WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will use his remarks at the United Nations General Assembly Wednesday to rally the world in support of Ukraine as part of a broader call for countries to protect the established international order.
Russia’s war in Ukraine will “feature prominently” in Biden’s address as he plans to lay out how the invasion violates a central tenet of the United Nations charter around protecting countries’ borders and sovereignty, said White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.
“He will speak to everyone around the world, those who have joined our broad-based coalition to support Ukraine and those who so far have stood on the sidelines, that now is a moment to stand behind the foundational principles of the charter,” Sullivan said on Tuesday ahead of the remarks.
Biden’s remarks come at a perilous time on a number of fronts. Russia’s war in Ukraine has upended global food supplies and threatens to tip Europe into a recession this winter as the continent braces for a surge in energy costs. Biden is also facing heightened tensions with China, which has shown signs of increasing aggression towards Taiwan.
Biden will also hit on the wider issues of climate change, the need to better prepare for public health threats, like the Covid pandemic, and the benefits of democracies over autocracies.
Meanwhile, at home, Biden has been warning about the internal threats to America’s own democratic values. He has repeatedly accused former President Donald Trump and his supporters of promoting an extreme ideology that threatens democracy in rare prime-time remarks earlier this month.
During the gathering, Biden will also announce a more than $100 million commitment towards global food security and lay out his efforts to restore America’s global leadership by delivering on commitments around global health, climate change, and emerging technologies, Sullivan said.
Biden comes into the meeting on firmer ground than last year when his speech came just weeks after America’s deadly and chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan had world leaders questioning the US’s leadership role in the world.
Now, US efforts to support Ukraine in its fight against Russia have shown significant signs of progress in recent days after Ukraine reclaimed territory in the northeastern Kharkiv province, in what many observers said could be a decisive shift as the war nears its seventh month.
Biden will reaffirm the US commitment to help Ukraine defend itself for as long as necessary and call on others to do the same, Sullivan said.
“He’ll offer a firm rebuke of Russia’s unjust war in Ukraine and make a call to the world to continue to stand against the naked aggression that we’ve seen these past several months,” he said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the group virtually Wednesday. Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month he would not attend the meeting.
On China, Biden faces a delicate balancing act as tensions have escalated in recent months. During a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday, Biden said that US forces would defend Taiwan if China invaded, a position criticized by Beijing.
It is at least the fourth time since last year that Biden has made comments that appear to alter longstanding US policy on Taiwan although White House officials have said there has been no change to policy.
“We continue to stand behind the One China policy, we continue to stand against unilateral changes to the status quo, and we continue to stand for peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” said Sullivan on Tuesday. “The President has reiterated those basic commitments on every occasion that he’s talked about Taiwan.”
The US is bound by law to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons, but it has a policy of “strategic ambiguity” when it comes to exactly how it would respond to Chinese aggression towards the island.
China’s President Xi Jinping will also be skipping the gathering.
Biden has been working on his remarks in recent days with his speech team and senior advisers and has been “making sure that he communicates what is most important for the American people as it relates to domestic issues, as it relates to how foreign policy issues, international issues affect the American people,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
He arrived in New York on Tuesday, a day after returning to DC from London where he joined other world leaders in attending Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral.
While in New York, Biden will meet Wednesday with United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UK Prime Minister Liz Truss. He will also speak at the Global Fund conference on the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, and host a reception with other world leaders at the American Museum of Natural History.