Wednesday, 20 September 2023 04:44

What to know after Day 573 of Russia-Ukraine war

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At UN General Assembly, Biden asks world to stand with Ukraine

U.S. President Joe Biden appealed to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to stand with Ukraine against Russian invaders, hoping Republicans in Congress will also take notice.

"Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence," Biden said in his speech to UNGA. "If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?"

Biden drew applause when saying that the United States and its allies would stand with Ukraine's fight for freedom. "Russia alone bears responsibility for this war," the president said. "Russia alone has the power to end this war immediately."

Biden's address at the annual gathering was the centerpiece event of his three-day visit to New York, which will include meetings with the heads of five Central Asian nations, and the leaders of Israel and Brazil.

Biden, a Democrat, has made rallying U.S. allies to support Ukraine a leading component of U.S. foreign policy, arguing the world must send a clear signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he will not be able to outlast the West.

Biden has faced criticism from some Republicans who want the United States to spend less money on the war effort.

Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election, has vowed to seek a quick endto the war if returned to power.

Trump has voiced skepticism about Washington's engagement with traditional allies, including NATO, and has been complimentary of Putin.

House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the leading Republican in Washington, has questioned whether the United States should keep sending billions of dollars in weaponry to Ukraine.

In his speech, Biden said Russia's February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and occupation of territory violated the founding U.N. Charter, a main principle of which is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

His remarks echoed those of U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who in his opening speech to UNGA on Tuesday said Russia's invasion "has unleashed a nexus of horror."

A Biden administration official said Biden and U.S. officials would also focus at the U.N. meetings on mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development and fighting climate change.

Solid majorities of Americans support providing weaponry to Ukraine to defend itself against Russia and believe that such aid demonstrates to China and other U.S. rivals a will to protect U.S. interests and allies, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey in June.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who attended and applauded Biden's remarks ahead of his own speech at UNGA on Tuesday, was expected to visit Biden at the White House on Thursday and to meet some congressional leaders as well.

The United States is preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine to coincide with Zelenskiy's visit, and Congress has been asked to approve billions of dollars more in security assistance for the rest of the year.

"We have confidence that there will be bipartisan support for this. I think President Zelenskiy does as well," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.

After his speech, Biden was due to sit down with Guterres to discuss world hot spots.

Later, he will attend a summit with the presidents of five Central Asian nations, a first. They are Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

On Wednesday, Biden will meet Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and join him in an event with labor leaders from Brazil and the United States.

Also on Wednesday, Biden will have his first face-to-face meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Netanyahu regained power last December.

Sullivan said they would discuss "a vision for a more stable and prosperous and integrated region, as well as to compare notes on effectively countering and deterring Iran."

** At UN, Zelenskiy tells Russia to stop war so world can fight climate, other crises

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy implored world leaders gathered at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to stand united against Russia's invasion and said Moscow had to be pushed back so the world could turn to solving pressing global challenges.

Zelenskiy drew applause as he took his place at the United Nations General Assembly lectern in New York for his first in-person appearance at the annual UNGA since Russia invaded his country in 2022.

"Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that after Russian aggression, no one in the world will dare to attack any nation," he said. "Weaponization must be restrained, war crimes must be punished, deported people must come back home and the occupier must return to their own land."

"We must be united to make it - and we'll do it."

He accused Russia of manipulating global food markets to seek international recognition of ownership of land it seized from Kyiv.

In a nod to the Global South, whose support he is seeking in his standoff with Russia, Zelenskiy spoke about the worsening climate crisis and natural disasters, mentioning the recent earthquake in Morocco and floods in Libya.

"We have to stop it. We must act united to defeat the aggressor and focus all our capabilities and energy on addressing these challenges," he told the General Assembly.

Earlier on Tuesday, Ukrainian officials said nine people were killed in Russian attacks, including a drone strike that set ablaze industrial warehouses.

Zelenskiy accused Russia of kidnapping Ukrainian children.

In March, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin on suspicion of illegally deporting children from Ukraine. The Kremlin rejects the accusations and the court's jurisdiction.

"Those children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine and all ties with their families are broken. And this is clearly a genocide when hatred is weaponized against one nation," Zelenskiy said.

Last year, Zelenskiy presented a 10-point plan that included restoring Ukraine's territorial integrity, the withdrawal of Russian troops and cessation of hostilities, and the restoration of Ukraine's state borders.

He said he was now working towards a peace summit based on that: "Tomorrow I will present the details at a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council."



Ukraine conflict set to ‘last a long time’ – Erdogan

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine is set to drag on for a “long time,”Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said. Moscow is actually among the parties seeking to end the hostilities as soon as possible, he argued.

Erdogan made the remarks in an interview with American broadcaster PBS that aired on Monday. The president was asked about a recent meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and whether the latter believed Moscow was “winning that war.”

The Turkish leader said the pair did not discuss the conflict in terms of who was winning. He said, however, that Russia was actually seeking a speedy resolution to the hostilities, which have been dragging on since February 2022. 

“It’s quite obvious that this war is going to last a long time. And for the war to end as soon as possible, we would like to be very hopeful. And Mr. Putin is actually on the side of ending this war as soon as possible,” Erdogan said. “That’s what [Putin] said. And I believe his remarks,” he added. 

Erdogan expressed doubts that Russia will ever “withdraw” from Crimea, revealing he had certain “deliberations” with Putin back in 2014 on the matter. The peninsula broke away from Kiev in the aftermath of the Maidan coup and was incorporated into Russia following a referendum.

“I couldn’t make them withdraw from Crimea. I think it’s not going to be possible for the time being either. I think time will only tell,” Erdogan stated.

Over the course of the conflict, top Ukrainian officials have repeatedly pledged to expel Russian forces from all of Ukraine’s former territories. In addition to Crimea, this includes Kherson and Zaporozhye Regions, and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, all of which were also incorporated into Russia after referendums last fall. 

Moscow has repeatedly signaled that it considers the matter closed and that the new territorial reality must be recognized.

** Russia to hit back hard if Ukraine attacks Crimea — diplomat

Any attempt by Ukrainian troops to infringe on Crimea with the use of force will be met with Russia’s immediate and tough response, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said at a briefing.

"Any attempts to assault the peninsula will be met with an immediate and harsh response as before," she said, commenting on a statement by Alexey Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, who threatened to "smoke Russians out of Crimea" with weapons.

"I would like to remind all Kiev extremists that the Crimea chapter was closed when its residents made their choice back in 2014, knowing what awaited them, that they would be ‘smoked out’ as Danilov put it, in different ways over all these years, economically, socially, in the humanitarian sense, based precisely on this nationalistic logic," the diplomat added.



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