NEW YORK (NewsNation) — President Joe Biden addressed world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, highlighting U.S. efforts to strengthen global health and food security and rally allies to back Ukraine in its war with Russia.
During Wednesday’s address, Biden said that Russia has violated the United Nations charter with its “brutal, needless war” in Ukraine. He said the war is an affront to the heart of what the international body stands for as he looked to rally allies to stand firm in backing the Ukrainian resistance.
Delivering a forceful condemnation of Russia’s invasion to the international body, Biden said reports of Russian abuses against civilians in Ukraine “should make your blood run cold.” He also said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new nuclear threats against Europe showed “reckless disregard” for his nation’s responsibilities as a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
He criticized Russia for scheduling “sham referenda” this week in territory it has forcibly seized in Ukraine.
“A permanent member of the U..N Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase a sovereign state from the map. Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the U.N. charter,” he told his U.N. audience.
Biden called on all nations, whether democracies or autocracies, to speak out against Russia’s invasion and to bolster’s Ukraine effort to defend itself.
“We will stand in solidarity against Russia’s aggression, period,” Biden said.
Biden also highlighted the consequences of the invasion on the world’s food supply, pledging $2.9 billion in global food security aid to address shortages caused by the war and the effects of climate change. He praised a U.N.-brokered effort to create a corridor for Ukrainian grain to be exported by sea and called on the agreement to be continued despite the ongoing conflict.
But the heart of the president’s visit to the U.N. this year was his full-throated censure of Russia as its war nears the seven-month mark.
Biden’s Wednesday address comes as Russian-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine have announced plans to hold Kremlin-backed referendums in days ahead on becoming part of Russia and as Moscow is losing ground in the invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a partial mobilization to call up 300,000 reservists and accused the West of engaging in “nuclear blackmail.”
The White House said the global food security funding includes $2 billion in direct humanitarian assistance through the United States Agency for International Development. The balance of the money will go to global development projects meant to boost the efficiency and resilience of the global food supply.
“This new announcement of $2.9 billion will save lives through emergency interventions and invest in medium- to long-term food security assistance in order to protect the world’s most vulnerable populations from the escalating global food security crisis,” the White House said.
Biden is confronting no shortage of difficult issues as leaders gather this year.
In addition to the Russian war in Ukraine, European fears that a recession could be just around the corner are heightened. Administration concerns grow by the day that time is running short to revive the Iran nuclear deal and over China’s saber-rattling on Taiwan.
Beyond diplomacy, the president is also doing some politicking. This year’s gathering comes less than seven weeks before pivotal midterm elections in the United States. Shortly after arriving in Manhattan on Tuesday night, Biden spoke at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser for about 100 participants that raised nearly $2 million, and he’s set to hold another fundraiser on Thursday before heading back to Washington.
His Wednesday address comes on the heels of Ukrainian forces retaking control of large stretches of territory near Kharkiv. But even as Ukrainian forces have racked up battlefield wins, much of Europe is feeling painful blowback from economic sanctions levied against Russia. A vast reduction in Russian oil and gas has led to a sharp jump in energy prices, skyrocketing inflation and growing risk of Europe slipping into a recession.
Biden’s visit to the U.N. also comes as his administration’s efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal appears stalled.
The deal brokered by the Obama administration — and scrapped by former President Donald Trump in 2018 — provided billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for Iran’s agreement to dismantle much of its nuclear program and open its facilities to extensive international inspection.
Biden, during his time at the U.N. General Assembly, also planned to meet Wednesday with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss and press allies to meet an $18 billion target to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
This year’s U.N. gathering is back to being a full-scale, in-person event after two years of curtailed activity due to the pandemic. In 2020, the in-person gathering was canceled and leaders instead delivered prerecorded speeches; last year was a mix of in-person and prerecorded speeches. Biden and first lady Jill Biden were set to host a leaders’ reception on Wednesday evening.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.