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Biden urges UN General Assembly not to abandon Ukraine

The president said the UN must “resist this blatant aggression,” drawing applause from many in attendance, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who later addressed the gathering to ask for help for his bruised nation.

But the speech also differed from last year’s version in other ways. Biden’s call to stand with Ukraine came nearly 20 minutes into his speech, and he laid out a foreign policy vision that extended well beyond the war zone. He devoted much of his speech to the developing world, returning to his long-standing theme: rallying democracies against the world’s rising autocracies. On Tuesday, he went further, implicitly calling on developing countries to turn their backs on Russian and Chinese autocracies and join an interconnected, rules-based order promoted by the United States and its allies.

“The United States aspires to a safer, more prosperous, and more equitable world for all, because we know our future is linked to yours,” Biden said. “And no nation can meet today’s challenges alone. »

Biden, in his third speech to the General Assembly, cited his country’s own comeback from the pandemic as an example that “democracies can deliver results that matter to people’s lives.” He is committed to fostering international cooperation to push for solutions to far-reaching challenges such as climate change, equitable development, artificial intelligence and global health.

Ukraine remained at the center of concerns. The president hammered home the point from the podium at the United Nations, calling on the continent to strengthen its resolve as the United States continues to funnel billions of dollars in arms and supplies to the Ukrainian resistance. Biden framed the battle as a rivalry between democracies and autocracies, but also pushed non-democracies to stand with the West against Russia.

Biden’s speech also spoke to the ears of Washington, where Republicans called for slashing money sent to the war zone. Republican leaders in the House of Representatives introduced a government funding bill Sunday evening without any aid for Ukraine.

Donald Trump, expected to once again become the Republican presidential nominee, questioned the need to support Ukraine and reiterated his desire to quickly negotiate a peace deal with Russia. Officials on both sides of the Atlantic say Putin is trying to wait out the next U.S. election, believing his fortunes in the war could change if a Republican were in command from the Oval Office.

Congress has already approved $113 billion in aid to Ukraine, including about $70 billion for security assistance; more than 90 percent of this amount has already been spent or allocated. The White House’s latest request includes $13.1 billion for military aid to Ukraine and replenishment of the Pentagon’s weapons supplies used for the war effort.

Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the general assembly, as did China’s Xi Jinping, but Beijing’s presence was significant east of Manhattan. Much of Biden’s speech reads like a speech to the developing world, highlighting democratic efforts that have helped countries like Vietnam and Haiti, as well as ongoing global infrastructure projects. But his real topic was China, even if the president tried to publicly downplay tensions with Beijing, as he did a few weeks ago at the G20.

“None of these partnerships are about containing any other country,” Biden said. “We seek to responsibly manage competition between our countries.”

He was due to meet later Tuesday with the leaders of five Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – all countries bordering Russia or China.

Biden’s moment on the world stage came against a backdrop of swirling domestic political concerns.

The president is grappling with the potentially serious economic consequences of the United Auto Workers strike, as well as the continuing fallout from his son Hunter’s indictment and a congressional impeachment inquiry. His re-election bid is also a priority – and his likely revenge against Trump.

And the clock is ticking toward a government shutdown at the end of the month, an outcome that White House aides say is largely the fault of Republicans — but one that still carries political risk for the president.

Yet the White House has leaned on Biden’s image as a global statesman, using it as evidence of his leadership – and to emphasize the revitalization of coalitions damaged by Trump, his predecessor – as well as its vitality. Biden’s secret trip to Kiev earlier this year was turned into a recent campaign ad designed as a subtle rebuke to critics who think the 80-year-old president is too frail to get the job done.

The absence of New York’s heavyweights, too, White House aides acknowledged, has reinforced the impression that the United Nations, while still a glitzy gathering of global diplomacy, has been diminished as a a place conducive to real change.

In New York, Biden will also hold a meeting with the U.N. secretary-general, attend a labor event with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and host world leaders for a reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Biden is also expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the meeting on Wednesday, denying the right-wing leader the White House visit he wanted following a judicial reform Biden has denounced as undemocratic. Many in the White House are wary of Netanyahu’s leadership, although they could use the Turtle Bay meetings to push for a normalization of relations between longtime foes Israel and Saudi Arabia.

And once again mixing in the needs of domestic politics, he will participate in several campaign fundraisers.