UN Latest: Zelenskiy Accuses Russia of Weaponizing People, Food

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of turning food, energy and even people into weapons of its war, and warned the UN General Assembly that they must stop such moves.

(Bloomberg) — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy accused Russia of turning food, energy and even people into weapons of its war, and warned the UN General Assembly that they must stop such moves. 

“The aggressor is weaponizing many other things, and those things are used not only against our country but against all of yours as well,” he said, referring to restrictions of Black Sea grain exports, shelling of nuclear power plants and deporting children from occupied territories of Ukraine to Russia. 

“Weaponization must be restrained. War crimes must be punished. Deported people must come back home. And the occupier must return to their own land,” he said. 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as the perils of climate change, dominated remarks at the UN General Assembly’s annual debate on Tuesday. Tthe US and its allies warned that the conflict may last years.

Click here for the full schedule of speakers at the UN General Assembly. 

Essential reading:

  • Latest on Russia’s invasion: Biden Calls for More Ukraine Aid as Allies See Longer War
  • Read The Big Take on global fragmentation: The Global Economy Enters an Era of Upheaval
  • Bloomberg geoeconomist Jennifer Welch breaks down China’s effort to exert more influence at the UN
  • Read Iain Marlow’s World Disappointed by the UN Now Looks Elsewhere for Answers. And watch here.

(All times are NY)

NATO Chief Confident US Will Support Ukraine (2:15 p.m.)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was “confident” the US and other allies would continue to support Ukraine, despite the risk of war fatigue among the public and calls by House Speaker Kevin McCarthy for greater oversight of aid for Kyiv.

Not supporting Ukraine would be “much more costly for the alliance in the long run, because then we would be more vulnerable for Russian or Chinese coercion or military threats,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. “So it’s in our security interest to support Ukraine and therefore I’m confident that the United States will continue.”

G-7 Expects Ukraine War to Last Years (11:48 a.m.)

The US and its allies in the Group of Seven now expect the war in Ukraine may drag on for years to come and are building that possibility into their military and financial planning.

A senior official from one European G-7 country said the war may last as much as six or seven more years and that allies need to plan financially to continue support for Kyiv for such a long conflict. G-7 officials discussed the darker outlook at a dinner on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly Monday night and agreed that the conflict is likely to last for the medium or long term, a senior US State Department official told reporters Tuesday. 

Biden Draws Applause at UN With Defense of Ukraine (10:47 a.m.)

Biden drew applause from the UN General Assembly with his pledge to stick with Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion.

“Russia believes that the world will grow weary and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequences,” Biden said in a speech on the first day of the General Assembly’s annual debate. “We have to stand up to this naked aggressor today to deter would-be aggressors tomorrow.”

Biden also cited floods in Libya and rising temperatures around the world as signs the world must do more to fight climate change.

“Taken together these snapshots tell an urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and begin to climate-proof our world,” Biden said.

Lula Sees Sweeping UN Reforms (10 a.m.)

Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called for big changes in institutions like the UN that he said have failed to successfully prevent wars, combat climate change or address the needs of the world’s poor.

The leftist leader, who has long sought a permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the developing world, said Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine “exposes our collective inability to enforce” the organization’s principles.

He also urged wealthy nations to follow through on unfulfilled financial pledges to help poorer countries combat climate change. And he cited disparities in the amount of funding the International Monetary Fund had made available while saying the “unequal and distorted representation on the board of the IMF and World Bank is unacceptable.”

UN Chief Has Sharp Words for Russia Over Ukraine (9:48 a.m.)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called out Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, saying it had “unleashed a nexus of horror” that had shattered lives and destroyed dreams.

“If every country fulfilled its obligations under the Charter, the right to peace would be guaranteed,” Guterres said in his speech opening the UN General Assembly’s annual session. “When countries break those pledges, they create a world of insecurity for everyone. Exhibit A —  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Guterres also urged countries to phase out all oil and gas. The 1.5C temperature target global leaders agreed to when they signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 is still within reach, but the world’s richest countries and fossil fuel companies must act, he said.

“If fossil fuel companies want to be part of the solution they must lead the transition to renewable energy,” Guterres said. “No more dirty production, no more fake solutions no more bankrolling climate denial.”

US Sees Chance to Reset Thai Alliance (6:00 a.m.)

Thailand’s recently elected Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is said to be bringing his incoming military chief for security talks with the US. Washington sees the new leader and his government as its best opportunity in two decades to get its alliance with Thailand back on track after ties were strained under the previous military-backed regime. While Srettha is seeking an audience with President Joe Biden, he’s indicated that any rapprochement won’t come at the expense of China.

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