September 30, 2022

Watch Live: Biden addresses U.N. General Assembly


The very basis of the United Nations Charter is under assault by those who wish to tear it down, President Biden said Wednesday in his second address as president to the United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

Mr. Biden began his speech by rebuking Russia over the war in Ukraine, before announcing new U.S. investments to address global food insecurity stemming from Russia’s war. The president’s address comes as the U.S. seeks to rally global leaders to continue supporting the Ukrainian government with arms and financial aid, with the war now in its seventh month. Nearly 200 world leaders are meeting in New York as the ongoing war in Ukraine presents Europe with a very real nuclear threat. 

“As we meet today, the U.N. Charter’s very basis of a stable and just, rule-based order is under attack by those who wish to tear it down or distort it for their own political advantage,” Mr. Biden said. “And the United Nations’ charter was not only signed by democracies of the world. It was negotiated among citizens, dozens of nations, with vastly different histories and ideologies, united in their commitment to work for peace.” 

On Monday, Ukraine accused Vladimir Putin’s regime yet again of “nuclear terrorism” after a Russian missile struck close to a nuclear power plant in the country’s south. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is scheduled to address the General Assembly by video on Wednesday. Putin is not attending the gathering. Putin on Wednesday ordered the partial mobilization of hundreds of thousands of additional Russian troops, and Russia is moving ahead with plans to annex large portions of disputed Ukrainian territory through the use of referendums that the U.S. and Ukraine quickly dismissed as illegitimate. 

“This world should see these outrageous acts for what they are,” Mr. Biden said Wednesday. “Putin claims he had to act because Russia was threatened. But no one threatened Russia, and no one other than Russia sought conflict. … 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.”

In an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the U.S. is “going to continue to do what we have been doing over the course of the past six months. We are going to condemn Russia. We’re going to isolate Russia. It will not be business as usual for the Russians here in New York for the 77th UNGA.”

The president also announced an additional $2.9 billion to address global food insecurity sparked by the conflict in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide supply chain problems. The money comes on top of the $6.9 billion the U.S. has already pledged to address food insecurity so far this year. Mr. Biden emphasized that, contrary to Russian misinformation, U.S. sanctions explicitly allow Russia to export food and fertilizer, “no limitation.” 

“It is Russia’s war that is worsening food insecurity. And only Russia can end it,” Mr. Biden said. 

The president’s speech comes a day later than originally planned, due to his traveling to the United Kingdom for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. At the U.N., Mr. Biden will hold bilateral meetings with leaders of allied nations, including his first meeting with the newly installed U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss. 

Mr. Biden’s address to the General Assembly last year, his first as president, came as the U.S. was completing its withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Then, the president said the global community stood at an “inflection point in history” amid the compounding crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and other challenges.

Pamela Falk contributed reporting.