While President Biden’s top priority was Russia, he also addressed communist China’s increasing ‘aggression and intimidation.’
U.S. President Joe Biden delivered his annual address on Sept. 19 to the U.N. General Assembly, where he condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for increased international assistance to Kyiv.
World leaders are gathering in New York for the opening of the 78th session of the U.N. General Assembly this week.
“Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence,” President Biden said. “But I ask you this: If we abandon the core principles of the U.N. Charter to appease an aggressor, can any member state feel confident that they are protected? If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?
“The answer is no. We must stand up to this naked aggression today to deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow.
“That is why the United States, together with our allies and partners around the world, will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity—and their freedom.”
While these words drew applause from world leaders, Vasily Nebenzya, Russia’s U.N. envoy, was spotted examining his phone during President Biden’s address.
“It’s Russia alone who stands in the way of peace because Russia’s price for peace is Ukraine’s capitulation, Ukraine’s territory, and Ukraine’s children,” President Biden said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is among the leaders attending the gathering this week, which is his first in-person appearance at the United Nations since Russia invaded his country.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were among the leaders who skipped this year’s meeting.
‘Aggression and Intimidation’
During his speech, President Biden also addressed the growing tension between the United States and communist China.
“When it comes to China, I want to be clear and consistent. We seek to responsibly manage the competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict. I’ve said we are for derisking, not decoupling with China,” President Biden said, referring to the U.S. decision to reduce reliance on China in critical supply chains.
The president also said that the United States will respond to the Chinese regime’s “aggression and intimidation.”
“We will push back on aggression and intimidation to defend the rules of the road,” President Biden said, adding that the United States was also eager to engage with China on global issues such as the climate crisis.
He also briefly referenced human rights violations in Xinjiang when calling on nations to defend human rights.
Besides the war in Ukraine, funding for international development projects is high on President Biden’s agenda at this year’s gathering.
During his speech, the president called for reforming the U.N. Security Council to make it more inclusive. In addition, he advocated for changes at the World Bank and other multilateral development institutions to better serve the infrastructure needs of low- and middle-income nations.
Since development banks are the most effective instruments for transparent, high-quality investment in poor countries, reforming these institutions could be a “game changer,” President Biden said.
After his speech, President Biden met with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to discuss global issues.
Today, he will also meet with the presidents of five Central Asian nations: Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
This will be the first “C5+1 presidential summit,” where President Biden and five Central Asian leaders plan to “discuss a range of issues related to regional security, trading connectivity, climate, and reforms to improve governance and the rule of law,” a senior administration official said during a briefing.
On Wednesday, the president will meet with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. He will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since the Israeli leader returned to office.
After concluding his meetings in New York, President Biden will welcome Mr. Zelenskyy to the White House, where he will be hosting him for the third time. The White House will announce an additional aid package for Ukraine this week.
President Biden’s meetings with foreign leaders come at a difficult time for him personally and politically. Last week, his son, Hunter Biden, faced indictment on three felony charges related to firearm possession while using narcotics.
Meanwhile, the president himself faces an impeachment inquiry. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced on Sept. 12 that the GOP-controlled House has launched an investigation into his potential involvement in Mr. Hunter Biden’s business dealings during his tenure as vice president under President Barack Obama.
The challenges don’t end there for the 46th president. David Ignatius, a prominent Washington Post columnist and ardent supporter of the president, opined last week that he should withdraw from the 2024 race. Mr. Ignatius, despite his respect for the president’s achievements, raised concerns about his age.
“In sum, he has been a successful and effective president,” he wrote. “But I don’t think Biden and Vice President [Kamala] Harris should run for reelection.”
President Biden is also dealing with the worst labor crisis of his presidency, which adds to an already onerous list of challenges. The United Auto Workers’ strike against Detroit’s three automakers, which began last week, has entered its fifth day with little sign of movement toward an agreement. A prolonged strike could have far-reaching effects on the economy and pose a significant setback for the president’s economic agenda, called “Bidenomics.”
In addition, the president faces continued low approval ratings, and the majority of Americans are unhappy with his handling of the economy.
However, according to Biden officials, these issues are not causing the president any distractions.
“This president has focused on advancing his positive agenda,” a senior administration official told reporters on Monday.
The world leaders will “hear a vision that we think is pretty compelling and a vision that not many other countries can offer,” the official said.