The United States and other countries opposing Russia’s war in Ukraine will be brought to the table this week at the United Nations General Assembly with countries that sympathize with Moscow or have refused to take sides, what a great test constitutes for the UN
The war is likely to be the dominant topic for the US and its allies in the New York discussion, fueling those countries that failed to convict Russian President Vladimir Putin.
While the war itself will be a major point of discussion, many of its ripple effects will be in terms of the global energy supply, economy, human rights, food security and more.
“I think it’s kind of a sub-theme of the event that a lot of countries are more sympathetic to the Russian perspective, or at least benefit from — in China’s case — lower oil prices,” said Michael Allen, special assistant to former President George W. Bush on the National Security Council.
Biden will address the General Assembly on Wednesday and is likely to focus on Putin’s aggression, along with other priorities, including tackling climate change.
“A key message I think you’ll hear from leaders across the US administration is that respect for the core principles of the international order is needed now more than ever,” said John Kirby, coordinator for strategic communications at the National Security Council. said Friday.
The UN was created in response to the kind of land war in Europe that worried many if Russia captured major Ukrainian cities and chose to move to other countries.
While the US, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and other allies have teamed up to impose economic sanctions on Russia and provide military aid to Ukraine, this week’s meetings will lift both the United Nations’ restrictions in confronting the Kremlin as the fractured nature of the organization.
The UN has had limited success in pushing Russia back, notably by suspending it from the Human Rights Council. But Russia sits on the powerful UN Security Council, giving it veto power over more sweeping proposals, as well as a podium to stand on.
Russia has also found allies in China, Brazil, India and other countries that will not go nearly as far in imposing sanctions or even condemning Moscow’s actions.
In the run-up to the General Assembly, Putin has met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian President Narendra Modi.
Daniel Hamilton, a Europe expert at the Brookings Institution, said the US and allies will be tasked this week with convincing more countries to oppose the war because it has global implications.
“They’ve caught up, frankly, by arguing with the rest of the world all over the world. So many countries around the world don’t really believe in the argument of whether they’re on the fence, either because they have contacts with Russia or because they’re skeptical of the US or European claims,” Hamilton said.
The meetings in New York also come amid successful counter-attacks by the Ukrainian military. Ukraine recently recaptured thousands of kilometers of territory in the northeast of the country, forcing thousands of Kremlin troops to withdraw.
Biden will likely emphasize in his speech how Kiev’s success on the battlefield is due in part to the steady flow of aid provided by the US and its allies. The Biden administration has pledged about $15 billion in military aid to Ukraine since the invasion began in February, including another $600 million announced days before the New York meeting.
He will also likely use the battle between Kiev and Moscow to highlight a long-standing theme of his presidency: that the world is at a turning point in the battle between democracies and autocracies, and that it is up to world leaders to come together work to ensure that democratic values survive and thrive.
“He will have to try to walk the line between not proclaiming victory too early, but arguing why we should continue to give Ukraine that support,” said Carrie Filipetti, executive director of the Vandenberg coalition and former senior policy officer. Advisor to the United States Mission to the United Nations.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has delivered rousing speeches to Congress and other governing bodies around the world to rally support for his country, may appear at the General Assembly via video. But Reuters reported that Russia is trying to block the message on the grounds that Zelensky would need to be there in person to speak.
Putin will not be in New York for the leaders’ meeting, but the US approved a visa for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Experts also predict that some sanctions coordination meetings will take place between the US and its allies, even on the sidelines of the meetings.
Kirby told reporters on Friday that he believed the recent footage from Izyum in Ukraine, where officials have discovered mass graves, leaders who should be sympathetic to Russia should reconsider their ties to Putin.
“I think you’re starting to see that even countries that weren’t loud and sharp against him are starting to question what he’s doing in Ukraine, and rightly so, because it’s just, it’s just brutal,” he said. “It is absolutely depraved and brutal. And I think it’s becoming clearer to the rest of the international community.”