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War in Ukraine is in the spotlight at UN

By Farnaz Fassihi


The world’s “blood should run cold” over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Joe Biden told dozens of global leaders during the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, a few hours after Russia undertook a significant expansion of its war effort.


“This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state,” Biden said, recounting what he said was “horrifying evidence” of Russian war crimes.


“If nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences,” he said, the post-World War II order crumbles. “We will stand in solidarity to Russia’s aggression,” Biden said.


Biden also accused President Vladimir Putin of Russia of making “irresponsible nuclear threats” and declared that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine was set to address the assembly in a prerecorded speech later Wednesday, the second day of leaders’ speeches. He was expected to renew his call for U.N. member states to support Ukraine with weapons, cash and humanitarian aid.


While Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been a central focus for many speakers so far, issues including the food and energy crises and climate change are also receiving significant attention from leaders.


Other highlights:


— Kenya’s newly elected president, William Ruto, made his debut address to the U.N. General Assembly, inviting development in his country. Like other African leaders, he called on the U.N. Security Council to expand representation from the continent.

— Iran’s hard-line conservative president, Ebrahim Raisi, told the leaders that his country was a fighter against injustice even as his government was cracking down on anti-government protests.

— A small set of world leaders are meeting behind closed doors for what they are calling a “frank and informal exchange” on climate issues.

— Biden also addressed two other thorny geopolitical matters: Iran and China. He implicitly threatened to use force if necessary to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons but said that he wanted to prevent conflict. He also said the United States did not want to escalate its rivalry with China. “The United States will conduct itself as a reasonable leader,” he said.

— European nations are calling for an independent monitor to put a spotlight on the Kremlin’s crackdown on critics and political opposition.

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