President Biden excoriated Russian President Vladimir Putin and announced another $1.2-billion aid package for Ukraine during his annual address to the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday.
“Let us speak plainly: A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded, attempted to erase the sovereign state from the map,” Biden said, calling Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “a brutal, needless war” that was “chosen by one man.”
Russia and China’s standing as two of the five Security Council members is undermining the U.N.’s ability to fulfill its mission, Biden went on to argue. Intent on signaling to allies and adversaries alike that the United States will not waver in its defense of Ukraine and support for other sovereign nations, the president urged the United Nations to add additional members to the Security Council to weaken Russia and China’s influence. But he did not go as fas as to call for revoking their Security Council membership, and with it, their veto power.
“The time has come for this institution to become more inclusive,” Biden said.
The annual week of meetings at U.N. headquarters, the first in-person gathering in three years, comes as Putin, his military having suffered major setbacks in recent weeks, has indicated he now plans to annex occupied regions of Ukraine. Moscow-aligned puppet governments there are preparing to hold sham referenda on joining Russia.
“The world should see these outrageous acts for what they are,” Biden said of the planned votes.
Just hours before Biden’s speech, Putin announced an immediate partial mobilization of 300,000 reservists in a pre-recorded address airing on Russian state television. Characterizing the conflict as a war with the West, he went as far as to threaten to deploy nuclear weapons.
“To defend Russia and our people, we doubtlessly will use all weapons resources at our disposal,” Putin said. “This is not a bluff.”
Putin’s remarks won’t come as a surprise to the White House, where national security officials continue to believe the war is nowhere near a resolution despite Ukraine’s success in pushing back Russian forces from formerly occupied territories in the country’s east.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, Biden’s guiding principle has been keeping the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization unified and out of any direct confrontation with Russia. Speaking to the world some seven months later, he looked to bolster the resolve of the world’s leading democracies in continuing to stand behind Ukraine, even as the drawn-out conflict has upended energy markets and exacerbated inflation, creating domestic issues for leaders in London, Paris and Berlin.
He will hold his first meeting with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss later Wednesday.
At the same time, he is trying to ward off a potential attack on Taiwan by China. In an interview Sunday on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Biden said he would respond militarily to any act of aggression by Beijing that violates Taiwan’s sovereignty — the kind of response he took off the table from the get-go when Russia was getting ready to invade Ukraine.
U.N. Secretary General António Guterres, in his remarks Monday, implored world leaders to rally together in support of the principles enshrined in the organization’s charter, offering a bleak summation of a world where democratic principles and institutions are increasingly under attack and multilateral organizations have been unable to muster the responses necessary to combat climate change, food insecurity, diseases, human rights violations and other challenges.
“We cannot go on like this,” Guterres said. “We have a duty to act. And yet we are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction.”