- Leaders from at least 145 countries are scheduled to attend, with a few notable exceptions: France, Britain, China and Russia will all be absent.
- A “significant part” of Biden’s speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday will be devoted to the war in Ukraine.
- It will be the first time Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will attend the UN summit in person since the war began.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (L) and US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas (R) look on as President Joe Biden speaks about the government’s response and recovery efforts in Maui, Hawaii, and the ongoing response to Hurricane Idalia in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC, 30 August 2023.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will address the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, where he plans to promote democracy and advocate for increased aid to Ukraine.
For Biden, it’s another opportunity to promote the ideas of diplomacy and democracy over those of aggressive autocracies, as he did at the recent Group of 20 summit earlier this month.
“(Biden) will present to the world the steps he and his administration have taken to advance a vision of American leadership built on the premise of working with others to solve the world’s most pressing problems,” the national security adviser said in The White House. Jake Sullivan said in a briefing Friday.
Leaders from at least 145 countries are scheduled to attend, with a few notable exceptions: France, Britain, China and Russia will all be absent, meaning four of the five countries that hold permanent seats on the UN Security Council will not be there present .
The absence of China and Russia gives Biden an opening to promote ties between the United States and smaller developing countries.
Biden is due to meet on Wednesday with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, a key leader in the Global South who has also advocated for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. Lula has claimed that the US and other Western nations are prolonging the war with their defense support.
The president will also meet with the leaders of the five Central Asian nations of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, marking the first time a US president has done so jointly. He will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the first time they have met since the prime minister won re-election last fall.
It will be the first time Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will personally attend the UN summit since the war began in February 2022. He delivered a pre-recorded speech to the body at last year’s session.
“President Biden looks forward to hearing President Zelenskyy’s perspective on all of this and reaffirming to the world and to the United States, to the American people, his commitment to continue to lead the world in supporting Ukraine,” Sullivan said.
A “substantial portion” of Biden’s speech will be devoted to the war in Ukraine, Sullivan said.
“He will talk about the basic fact that the UN Charter … speaks to the basic proposition that countries cannot attack their neighbors and steal their territory by force,” Sullivan said, referring to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “It was also a proposal that was at the heart of the G20 statement last weekend.”
Biden’s message of support for Ukraine is complicated by the fact that a handful of hardline Republicans in Congress actively oppose more funding.
The White House is seeking $24 billion in additional aid to Ukraine, which it hoped would be passed along with a continuing resolution to keep the government open while budget negotiations continue. The measure has bipartisan support in the Senate, but has stalled in the House of Representatives, where some members, such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., has said she will not support any additional aid.
GOP House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is in a precarious position on the Ukraine issue, as his slim majority places him at the whim of every member of his caucus. Conservatives balked at McCarthy’s proposal last week to pair Ukraine aid with additional border funding.
Zelenskyy will travel to Washington, DC, on Thursday to meet with Biden at the White House and speak with lawmakers. Unlike his visit in December, Zelenskyy will not address a joint session of Congress. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said Zelenskyy will be “very, very convincing.”
“Zelenskyy is a great advocate,” Turner said on CBS News Sunday. “He really makes the case better than anyone else.”
It’s a position the White House agrees with.
“He has proven over the last 18, 19 months that there is no better advocate for his country, for his people and for the urgent and continuing need for countries like the United States and our allies and partners to step up. that provide the necessary tools and resources that Ukraine needs,” Sullivan said.