Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the UN to push back against Vladimir Putin because he will not stop at Ukraine’s borders – and warned he could drop nuclear bombs.
“When hatred is unleashed against one nation, it never stops there,” he said at the annual UN General Assembly summit.
“The purpose of the current war against Ukraine is to turn our country, our people, our lives and our resources into weapons against you – against the international rules-based order.”
The war in Ukraine has exacerbated major disruptions to global supply caused by the pandemic, causing a massive spike in food and energy prices, jolting the global economy and increasing hardship in many developing countries.
Decades-old energy supply channels to Europe from Russia, a major oil and gas producer, were halted or severely disrupted by the war due to sanctions, trade disputes, pipeline closures and a major push from the West to find alternative sources.
Zelensky pointed to the food and fuel crisis, and he highlighted what Ukraine claims are kidnappings of at least tens of thousands of children taken from Ukraine after Moscow’s invasion: “What will happen to them?”
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another official in March, accusing them of kidnapping children from Ukraine.
President Joe Biden addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York City on Tuesday morning. In his speech, he went after Russia’s “illegal war of conquest” in Ukraine and rededicated the US to the cause of helping Ukraine.
The war in Ukraine has exacerbated major disruptions to global supply caused by the pandemic, causing a massive spike in food and energy prices, shocking the global economy and increasing hardship in many developing countries.
Both Russia and Ukraine are also major grain exporters, and Russia withdrew from an agreement last summer that allowed the shipment of Ukrainian grain through the Black Sea.
Pointing to food and fuel shortages, Zelensky highlighted what Ukraine claims are kidnappings of at least tens of thousands of children taken from Ukraine after Moscow’s invasion: “What will happen to them?”
“Those children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine, and all ties with their families are severed. And this is clearly a genocide,” Zelensky said in 15-minute remarks – the time limit often ignored.
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant in March for Russian President Vladimir Putin and another official on charges of kidnapping children from Ukraine. Russian officials have denied any forced transfer of children and say some Ukrainian youth are in foster care.
Russia will have the opportunity to address the General Assembly on Saturday. Deputy UN Ambassador Dmitry Polyansky sat in the Russian chair during Zelensky’s speech.
“Has he spoken?” Polyansky said with a wry smile when an Associated Press reporter asked about his reaction to the speech. ‘I didn’t notice him speaking. I was on my phone.”
Zelensky entered the world stage at a sensitive point in his country’s campaign to maintain international support for his struggle. Nearly 19 months after Moscow launched a full-scale invasion, Ukrainian forces are already three months into a counteroffensive that has not gone as quickly or as well as initially hoped.
Ukraine and its allies see the country’s case as a struggle for the supremacy of international law, for the sovereignty of any country with a powerful and potentially expansionist neighbor, and for the stability of global food and energy supplies.
“We must resist this naked aggression today and deter other potential aggressors tomorrow,” US President Joe Biden told the meeting in his own address on Tuesday. When he promised support to Ukraine, there was applause, including from Zelensky.
Russia continues to insist its war is justified, claiming it is defending Ukraine’s Russian speakers from a hostile government, protecting Russian interests from NATO encroachment, and more.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky applauds as President Joe Biden accuses Russia of the war in Ukraine during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday
President Joe Biden addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday
The war has been raging for longer and the losses are greater than Russia had hoped, and the fighting has led to widespread international condemnation against Moscow.
But the Kremlin also has influential friends who have not joined the chorus of disapproval: China and India, for example, have taken neutral positions. This also applies to many countries in the Middle East and Africa. Many Latin American and Caribbean countries prefer to focus the world’s attention on other global issues, including climate change and conflict in Africa.
Moscow is keen to demonstrate its global influence and its relationship with China, emphasizing that the country cannot be internationally isolated by the US and its European allies.
Meanwhile, Ukraine worries that support from its allies is waning. They have supplied billions of dollars worth of weapons, but fear their supplies are dwindling and defense companies are struggling to ramp up production lines.
Hours before Zelensky spoke at the UN, allied defense leaders met at a US military base in Germany to discuss next steps. Some countries promised even more money and weapons. But a major sticking point is whether to supply longer-range missiles that Kiev says it needs.
The US Congress is weighing Biden’s request to provide as much as $24 billion more in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, amid growing partisan division over spending on the conflict. Zelensky will spend time on Capitol Hill on Thursday and meet Biden at the White House.
After landing in New York on Monday, Zelensky suggested the UN must answer for giving his country’s invader a seat at the tables of power.
Whether there is still “a place for Russian terrorists” in the United Nations “is a question for all members of the United Nations,” Zelensky said after visiting wounded Ukrainian soldiers at Staten Island University Hospital.
Russia is a permanent member with veto power of the UN Security Council, which is charged with maintaining international peace and security.
Zelensky was already scrutinizing the United Nations before the war. In one memorable example, he complained at the 2021 General Assembly that the UN was “a retired superhero” that has long forgotten how great it once was.
Zelensky, a former comedian and actor who came to power in 2019, later became wartime leader. He wore military fatigues, gathered citizens at home and appeared virtually and in person before numerous international bodies.
At the Staten Island hospital, he presented medals to military members who had lost limbs. With help from Kind Deeds, a New Jersey charity, 18 service members have been fitted with prosthetics and are undergoing outpatient physical therapy, hospital leaders said.
“We will all be waiting for you when we get home,” Zelensky told those he met. “We absolutely need all of you.