Biden has planned to make the Ukraine war the centerpiece of his annual U.N. address, with aides previewing a harsh message for Moscow. But President Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he would order the “partial mobilization” of Russian citizens in the Ukrainian war and renewed fears of the use of nuclear weapons has greatly increased the risk of Biden’s speech.
Putin warned in his 20-minute speech that he would use “every means at our disposal” if he believed Russia’s “territorial integrity” was threatened.
The mobilization meant that citizens from the reserve could be drafted, while those with military experience would be drafted, Putin said, adding that the necessary decrees had been signed and entered into force on Wednesday.
The escalation comes after Russia suffered a stunning setback in the war, which has been going on for more than six months. Biden, who led the effort to isolate Russia and provide Ukraine with advanced weapons, has been planning to highlight those efforts in a speech Wednesday. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also scheduled to address the United Nations on Wednesday.
According to his national security adviser, Jack Sullivan, he wants to “resolutely condemn Russia’s unjust war in Ukraine” and “appeal to the world to continue to oppose the blatant acts of aggression we have seen over the past few months.” “
After Biden made his first speech at the United Nations last year, under the cloud of a chaotic troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and stagnating domestic ambitions, Biden’s aides believed he was coming into his sophomore year stronger.
“We have confidence that the president will ride the wind and waves to New York,” Sullivan told reporters at the White House on Tuesday, citing a largely united Western alliance and recent victories at home, including historic investment changes in tackling climate change. .
Questions About American Leadership
Still, despite Biden’s announcement to regain U.S. leadership, deeper questions remain about his ability to maintain that position for years to come as fears of a global recession and threats to American democracy mount.
Biden has spent a lot of time in recent weeks highlighting the threats, mostly to domestic audiences, but foreign capitals are also listening intently. In his most recent speech, he recounted last year’s G7 summit in Cornwall, England, where he sat at a table and told fellow leaders “America is back.”
Biden told the audience that French President Emmanuel Macron asked him: “How long?”
One of the issues currently at the forefront of global affairs — the re-opening of painful negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew — only underlines the impact of the pendulum swing in the U.S. leadership.
For Biden, the annual U.N. speech is another attempt to explain to the world how he has brought America back to leadership after Donald Trump’s “America First” year.
Sullivan said that in his speech, Biden plans to make a “major new announcement” to address food insecurity and “details on how the United States can restore its global leadership and integrity on the world stage.”
After Wednesday morning’s speech, Biden will host a pledging session for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. In the evening, Biden and the first lady will host a leadership reception at the American Museum of Natural History.
The schedule changed this week as world leaders gathered in London for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, one of the largest gatherings of heads of state in recent memory. Many flew from the British capital to New York for a United Nations meeting.
Biden’s speech was not delayed in his usual Tuesday morning speech slot, but was delayed by a day. Unlike the UN General Assembly in past years, which has been scaled down due to Covid-19, this year’s gathering has resumed its usual in-person capacity.
Speeches drafted over weeks
U.S. officials have warned that Ukraine’s current gains do not necessarily portend a broader change in the outlook for the war, which could still be a protracted conflict. Biden’s speech came a day after two Russian-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine announced plans to hold a referendum on formally joining Russia, which the United States had previously warned would be “sham”.
One of Biden’s goals in Wednesday’s speech was to stress the importance of keeping Western allies united in support of Ukraine in the uncertain months ahead.
The looming energy crisis has made that effort even more difficult, as Russia halts gas supplies to Europe as winter approaches. Western sanctions on Moscow have been tapered, in part because rising costs have led to an economic catastrophe that has created political turmoil for many of the leaders of the Biden coalition, including himself.
Later on Wednesday, the president met with one of the leaders, British Prime Minister Liz Truss. It will be their first formal face-to-face meeting since Truss took office earlier this month after her predecessor, Boris Johnson, decided to step down.
She inherited a severe economic crisis driven by high inflation and soaring energy costs, which has led to fears the UK could soon enter a prolonged recession. While few in the Biden administration have shed tears over Johnson’s resignation — Biden has described him as a “physical and emotional clone” of Trump — under his leadership, the US and the UK have seen a change in attitudes towards Russia. Same height.
White House officials expect cooperation to continue under Truss, even as she faces pressure to ease pressure on the domestic economy.
Less certain, however, is whether Truss’ tough stance on Brexit will sour relations with Biden. The president has taken a personal interest in the specific issue of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a post-Brexit arrangement that calls for additional checks on shipments between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The rules are designed to keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland open and avoid a resurgence of sectarian violence. But Truss has set out to rewrite those rules, causing deep anxiety in both Brussels and Washington.
Biden wants to warn China
Putin is not expected to attend this year’s assembly in person, although his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, will be in New York for the event. Chinese President Xi Jinping is also not planning to attend the United Nations in person this year.
The two autocratic leaders who met in person last week deepened ties between the two countries as relations with the West soured. Biden warned Xi not to support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, a theme he is expected to reiterate in a speech on Wednesday.
The absences of Putin and Xi have highlighted the limitations of venues such as the United Nations in addressing the world’s most serious problems. Russia, which holds a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, has been refusing to ratify resolutions on Syria and Ukraine, leading to inaction.
Efforts to reform the Security Council have gained more momentum under a Biden administration, although prospects for breaking the agency’s deadlock appear slim. Biden aides are still weighing how he will specifically articulate the U.S. desire to reform the Security Council during a visit to the United Nations this week, but he is expected to at least express his views privately with other leaders.
“We are committed to finding a way forward to make the United Nations fit for purpose in this century. Right now, the United Nations system is under attack. The charter is under attack. Da Thomas-Greenfield said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“I can’t change the fact that Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council, but I can continue the success we’ve had by isolating them, condemning them, and making sure they know and understand that this is not business as usual,” she told Jack Tapper .