The US President says Russia must be held accountable for war crimes in Ukraine. There was “even more appalling evidence” of Russian atrocities and war crimes, Biden said in his speech at the general debate at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday in New York.
Biden accused Russia of a “shameless” violation of the UN charter over the war in Ukraine. “A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council has invaded his neighboring country in an attempt to erase the sovereign state from the map,” said the US President. In doing so, he violated the cornerstones of the UN Charter, the set of rules of the United Nations.
“That should make your blood run cold”
Putin has just “uttered blatant nuclear threats against Europe” again, and the Kremlin is organizing mock referendums, Biden said. These are “outrageous acts”. Putin justifies his war by claiming his country was threatened, Biden said. “But nobody threatened Russia, and nobody but Russia sought the conflict.”
The US President accused Russia of wanting to destroy Ukraine’s right to exist. “This war is simply about wiping out Ukraine’s right to exist as a state. And Ukraine’s right to exist as a people,” Biden said. “Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe in, that should make your blood run cold.”
Biden has also spoken out in favor of reforming the United Nations Security Council. The most powerful UN body must remain credible and effective, said Biden. Countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean needed permanent seats on the Security Council, Biden said. The United States had recently surprised with the push to reform the 15-member Security Council. Above all, Russia and China are seen as opponents of the plans.
Climate change as the “most urgent crisis”
In his speech, Biden described climate change as an urgent crisis. “We don’t have much time left. We all know that we are already living in a climate crisis,” said the US President. “We know that a large part of Pakistan is still under water and needs help. The Horn of Africa is experiencing an unprecedented drought. Families are faced with impossible choices, having to decide which child to feed and wondering if it will survive.” These are the human costs of climate change.
Billions in aid against the food crisis
In his speech, Biden also announced further billions in aid to alleviate the food crisis in the world. Specifically, he promised aid of more than 2.9 billion US dollars (around 2.9 billion euros). According to the White House, the new funds add to the $6.9 billion the US government has already allocated this year to support global food security.
Biden called for the extension of the United Nations-brokered grain deal between Russia and Ukraine. The deal signed at the end of July is valid for four months. In it, Russia pledged not to block the export of millions of tons of grain from Ukraine across the Black Sea. Putin recently threatened to scrap the most important agreement between the warring parties to date.
Van der Bellen met Erdogan: “Positive development”
Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen has meanwhile met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the UN General Assembly. “The bilateral relations between Austria and Turkey have developed very positively this year,” summarized Van der Bellen. “It is important to maintain this momentum. That’s why it was important to me to meet the Turkish President as part of my visit to New York.”
He thanked Erdogan for his commitment “to seek solutions to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” said the Federal President. “However, the current development must be taken very seriously. Now it is all the more about international unity and determination.” Turkey maintains close ties with both Ukraine and Russia and sees itself as a mediator between the two parties.
Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (both ÖVP) also presented citizenship notices to descendants of Holocaust survivors at the Austrian Consulate General in New York on Wednesday afternoon (local time) and visited Rabbi Arthur Schneier in the Park East Synagogue. Together with Nehammer and Schallenberg, Van der Bellen also had an appointment with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday.
Guterres: World is in big trouble
At the start of the 77th general debate at the UN General Assembly in New York, Guterres expressed pessimism on Tuesday. He listed various political crises and conflicts such as the Ukraine war, lamented hunger and food shortages, exploding living costs and social inequalities in dramatic tones. “Our world is in deep trouble,” Guterres said.
The world is also waging a “suicidal war on nature”. Guterres warned: “These crises threaten the future of humanity and the fate of our planet.” The ideals for which the United Nations stand are also in danger.
During the general debate, more than 140 heads of state and government want to give speeches at the UN headquarters in New York. The world’s largest diplomatic meeting is dominated by Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. A video address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is eagerly awaited, scheduled for late afternoon (midnight CEST). Because of the Russian war of aggression against his country, Zelensky is the only head of state who does not have to appear in person in New York to give a speech.