Russia wants to 'erase' Ukraine from the map, Biden tells UN

Russia wants to 'erase' Ukraine from the map, Biden tells UN
Speaking about the plan to hold votes in Ukraine’s occupied territories to join Russia, President Joe Biden called it a “sham referendum” and “an extremely significant violation of the UN charter”. / bne IntelliNews
By Dominic Culverwell in Berlin September 21, 2022

US President Joe Biden condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at the UN General Assembly on September 21, saying that Moscow is trying “to erase” its neighbour.

Biden firmly blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the “brutal, needless war”. He denounced Putin’s justification that Russia was threatened, asserting that “no one threatened Russia”. Instead, Biden claimed that “no one other than Russia sought conflict” and that Moscow “violated the core tenets of the United Nations charter”.

"Let us speak plainly. A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded its neighbour, attempted to erase the sovereign state from the map," Biden said.

Biden referenced Putin’s speech where he called Ukraine a “creation of Russia”, and cited Russia’s numerous war crimes, including the recently uncovered mass graves in Izyum, as proof that Russia is attempting to “extinguish Ukraine’s right to exist as a state (...) and Ukraine’s right to exist as a people”.

Speaking about the recent plan to hold votes in Ukraine’s occupied territories to join Russia, Biden called it a “sham referendum” and “an extremely significant violation of the UN charter”.

The US leader also expressed concern over Russia’s nuclear threats as well as the partial mobilisation announcement. But Biden assured that the USA is working with its allies and partners to deter attacks against Nato and to “hold Russia accountable for its atrocities and war crimes”.

“If nations can pursue their imperialistic ambitions without consequences, then we put at risk everything this very institution stands for,” he said.

He called for UN members to be “clear, firm and unwavering” in their response to Russia and emphasised that the US will stand in solidarity with Ukraine against Russia’s aggression, describing the war as a fight between democracy and autocracy.

Over 40 UN members have contributed billions to Ukraine, with the US leading the way. Washington has provided Ukraine with “more than $25bn to date” in the form of humanitarian aid and direct economic support for Ukraine, Biden said.

The war’s consequences have been felt around the world. One of the major challenges facing the globe is the food crisis, which is causing acute food insecurity for 193mn people. In response, Biden announced that the US is providing an additional $2.9bn in humanitarian support. He also explicitly stated that “only Russia can end” food insecurity, blaming the war for the worsening crisis.

"Russia ... is pumping out lies, trying to pin the blame for the crisis the food crisis on the sanctions imposed by many in the world for the aggression against Ukraine. So let me be perfectly clear about something: our sanctions explicitly allow, explicitly allow, Russia the ability to export food and fertiliser. No limitation," he said.

Biden expressed gratitude for the Black Sea Initiative which opened up several Ukrainian ports for food exports and called for it to be extended. He specifically lauded UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who helped broker the deal.

Biden’s rhetoric echoed that of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron, who both openly called Russia’s invasion an act of “imperialism” in their UN speeches. Despite the German and French leaders previously receiving criticism for their hesitancy in aiding Ukraine, Macron and Scholz harshly criticised Russia during their speeches on September 20 and called the war in Ukraine “a return to imperialism”.

"We must not stand idly by when a major nuclear power, armed to the teeth a founding member of the United Nations and a permanent member of the UN Security Council no less seeks to shift borders through the use of violence," Scholz said.

Meanwhile, Macron expressed concern that the dangers of the war extend beyond Ukraine’s borders.

 “The longer this war goes on, the more it threatens Europe and the world. It could lead to greater conflict where security and sovereignty no longer depend on the strength of alliances, but on the strength of armed groups... and subjugation of others,” Macron stated. “France rejects this and will steadfastly search for peace.”

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