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Biden urges world leaders to stand firm in support of Ukraine’s fight against Russia

President Joe Biden, speaking at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, said the world must remain united in defending Ukraine against Russia. He said that no country would be safe if “we allow Ukraine to be torn apart” in an attempt to win support for Kyiv in its efforts to fight the Russian army.

The US president urged heads of states to continue their support for Ukraine, saying Russia was counting on countries to tire of the protracted conflict in Kyiv, which would “allow it to brutalise Ukraine without consequence”. Biden said:

“I ask you this: If we abandon the core principles of the United States to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected? If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure? I’d respectfully suggest the answer is no.”

This message on the topic of Ukraine was addressed not only to a global audience but also to Washington, where an increasingly isolationist section of the Republican Party doubts that the US will successfully replenish the steady stream of aid flowing to Kyiv since the war began in February 2022.

The Biden administration has asked Congress to allocate an additional $24bn for security and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. However, the Republican Party has largely left the request unaddressed as lawmakers try to ensure funding continues beyond the end of September. Adhering to the views of former President Donald Trump, the Republican faction in the House of Representatives remains opposed to increased aid to Ukraine. Biden claimed:

“We have to stand up to this naked aggression today and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow. That’s why the United States – together with our allies and partners around the world — will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and their freedom.”

Washington remains wary of Chinese aggression in the South China Sea, where competing territorial claims are causing tensions in the region. Beijing also seeks to reunite the mainland with the self-governing island of Taiwan, raising the possibility of a new war.

The topic of Biden’s speech was the partnerships the U.S. is trying to forge around the world – from Africa to the Indo-Pacific – which he said promote economic progress, security and other achievements, while emphasising that these relationships are not intended to “contain any country” – a clear reference to Beijing. He said:

“When it comes to China, let me be clear and consistent. We seek to responsibly manage competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict. I’ve said we are for de-risking — not decoupling — with China.”

Biden emphasised the need for Beijing and Washington to cooperate on climate, and mentioned recent natural disasters – devastating heat waves, droughts and floods around the world – as part of a “snapshot” that tells “an urgent story about what lies ahead if we don’t reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and start protecting the world from climate change”.

However, Biden is not planning to attend a special summit on climate change to be held by UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Wednesday, although he himself says climate change is a policy priority. At the summit, countries will be invited to present new ideas and proposals to further reduce emissions and combat climate change. Officials did not explain Biden’s absence at the climate summit and said that John Kerry, the US climate commissioner, would attend instead.

The annual forum was a chance for Biden to demonstrate to other world leaders – and American voters in 2024 – that he has restored U.S. leadership on the world stage, which he believes was weakened under Trump.

Biden met with Guterres after the speech, and on Tuesday he was scheduled to meet with leaders of the so-called C5 group of Central Asian countries, which includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The meeting is expected to discuss regional security, trade, climate change, ongoing reforms to improve governance and other issues.

Biden is scheduled to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at the White House on Thursday.


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