President Joe Biden addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2022, at the U.N. headquarters. AP
"The only appropriate response to Putin's belligerent threats is to double down on supporting Ukraine. More sanctions on Russia. More weapons to Ukraine. More solidarity with Ukrainians. More businesses pulling out of Russia. More determination to hold Russia accountable," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement on social media.
Delivering a forceful condemnation of Russia's invasion to the international body, Biden said reports of Russian abuses against civilians in Ukraine "should make your blood run cold.'' He also said Russian President Vladimir Putin's new nuclear threats against Europe showed "reckless disregard'' for his nation's responsibilities as a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Said Biden: "We will stand in solidarity against Russia's aggression. Period."
President Joe Biden is making the U.S. case to world leaders at the United Nations that Russia's ``naked aggression'' in Ukraine is an affront to the heart of what the international body stands for as he looks to rally allies to stand firm in backing the Ukrainian resistance.
Biden, during his time at the U.N. General Assembly, also planned to meet Wednesday with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss and press allies to meet an $18 billion target to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. He also announced $2.9 billion in global food security aid to address shortages caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the effects of climate change.
White House officials said the crux of the president's visit to the U.N. this year would be a full-throated condemnation of Russia as its brutal war nears the seven-month mark.
"He'll offer a firm rebuke of Russia's unjust war in Ukraine and make a call to the world to continue to stand against the naked aggression that we've seen these past several months,'' White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in previewing the president's address. "He will underscore the importance of strengthening the United Nations and reaffirm core tenets of its charter at a time when a permanent member of the Security Council has struck at the very heart of the charter by challenging the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty.''
The address comes as Russian-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine have announced plans to hold Kremllin-backed referendums in days ahead on becoming part of Russia and as Moscow is losing ground in the invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a partial mobilization to call up 300,000 reservists and accused the West of engaging in ``nuclear blackmail.''
The White House said the global food security funding includes $2 billion in direct humanitarian assistance through the United States Agency for International Development. The balance of the money will go to global development projects meant to boost the efficiency and resilience of the global food supply.
"This new announcement of $2.9 billion will save lives through emergency interventions and invest in medium- to long-term food security assistance in order to protect the world's most vulnerable populations from the escalating global food security crisis,'' the White House said.
Biden is confronting no shortage of difficult issues as leaders gather this year.
In addition to the Russian war in Ukraine, European fears that a recession could be just around the corner are heightened. Administration concerns grow by the day that time is running short to revive the Iran nuclear deal and over China's saber-rattling on Taiwan.
When he addressed last year's General Assembly, Biden focused on broad themes of global partnership, urging world leaders to act with haste against the coronavirus, climate change and human rights abuses. And he offered assurances that his presidency marked a return of American leadership to international institutions following Donald Trump's "America First" foreign policy.
But one year later, global dynamics have dramatically changed.
Stewart Patrick, senior fellow and director of the Global Order and Institutions Program at the Washington think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in an analysis that Biden's task this year is "immense" compared to his first address to the U.N. as president.
"Last year, the U.S. leader won easy plaudits as the `anti-Trump,' pledging that `America was back,'" Patrick said. "This year demands more. The liberal, rules-based international system is reeling, battered by Russian aggression, Chinese ambitions, authoritarian assaults, a halting pandemic recovery, quickening climate change, skepticism of the U.N.'s relevance, and gnawing doubts about American staying power."
Beyond diplomacy, the president is also doing some politicking. This year's gathering comes less than seven weeks before pivotal midterm elections in the United States. Shortly after arriving in Manhattan on Tuesday night, Biden spoke at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser for about 100 participants that raised nearly $2 million, and he's set to hold another fundraiser on Thursday before heading back to Washington.
His Wednesday address comes on the heels of Ukrainian forces retaking control of large stretches of territory near Kharkiv. But even as Ukrainian forces have racked up battlefield wins, much of Europe is feeling painful blowback from economic sanctions levied against Russia. A vast reduction in Russian oil and gas has led to a sharp jump in energy prices, skyrocketing inflation and growing risk of Europe slipping into a recession.
This year's U.N. gathering is back to being a full-scale, in-person event after two years of curtailed activity due to the pandemic. In 2020, the in-person gathering was canceled and leaders instead delivered prerecorded speeches; last year was a mix of in-person and prerecorded speeches. Biden and first lady Jill Biden were set to host a leaders' reception on Wednesday evening.