President Biden warned that Moscow’s war in Ukraine is a threat to the foundations of the United Nations in an address Wednesday to its General Assembly, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin dramatically escalated his aggression toward Ukraine.
“Let us speak plainly: A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase a sovereign state from its map. Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations charter,” Biden said in his address.
“This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, plain and simple. And Ukraine’s right to exist as a people,” he added.
Biden’s speech came hours after Putin moved towards the biggest escalation of his war against Ukraine since it began in February. He ordered the mobilization of roughly 300,000 reservists into the Russian military, and accused the U.S. and its European allies of “nuclear blackmail” against Moscow.
“To those who allow themselves such statements about Russia, I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and some components are more modern than those of the NATO countries,” Putin said in the recorded address.
Putin’s speech came after Ukrainians launched counteroffensives in recent weeks that have retaken thousands of miles of territory in the country’s northeast and forced thousands of Russian troops to retreat.
Ukraine President Vladimir Zelensky is set to deliver a virtual address on Wednesday afternoon.
Biden’s speech went through multiple drafts and was updated over the last 24 hours to reflect the latest developments in Europe.
The president highlighted steadfast U.S. support for Ukraine in recent months through billions of dollars of military aide and sought to rally global support against Russia, arguing it was a matter of sovereignty and international order.
Biden pointed to attacks on schools, railway stations, and hospitals from Russia’s military and mentioned the mass graves uncovered in Izium with bodies showing signs of torture.
“Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe… that should make your blood run cold,” the president said.
Biden announced that the U.S. will provide another $2.9 billion for humanitarian and food security assistance, accusing Putin of driving global food insecurity with his war.
“Russia in the meantime has been pumping out lies, trying to pin the blame for the food crisis on the sanctions imposed by many in the world for the aggression against Ukraine. So let me be perfectly clear about something: our sanctions explicitly allow, explicitly allow Russia the ability to export food and fertilizer,” Biden said.
“It’s Russia’s war that is worsening food insecurity and only Russia can end it,” he added.
The speech may prove to have a muted effect in terms of U.N. action, however.
Many UN members have either been sympathetic to Russia or antagonistic toward the United States. Russia sits on the U.N. Security Council, and as a result has the ability to thwart efforts to hold Moscow accountable.
For example, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in his speech at the U.N. on Tuesday criticized the economic impact of Western sanctions, but did not mention Russia in his remarks.
Yet, Biden reiterated his vow for the U.S. to stand in solidarity with Ukraine until the end.
“Like you, the United States wants their war to end on just terms. On terms we all signed up for,” the president said. “The only country standing in the way of that is Russia.”