Tags: united nations | ukraine | russia

Ukraine War Set to Dominate UN General Assembly

Ukraine War Set to Dominate UN General Assembly

Monday, 19 September 2022 05:55 PM EDT

The war in Ukraine is expected to dominate the U.N. General Assembly meeting this week, The Hill reports.

As members gather at U.N. headquarters in New York, the United States and its allies who have condemned Russia's invasion of Ukraine will meet with those who have not.

President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak on Wednesday and is expected to address Russian President Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine along with other issues such as climate change, The Hill reported.

The global food crisis aggravated by the war will be another focus of world leaders, a gathering that is unlikely to yield any progress toward ending the conflict, Reuters reported.

"It would be naive to think that we are close to the possibility of a peace deal," said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres ahead of the high-level meeting of the 193-member General Assembly, which starts Tuesday. "The chances of a peace deal are minimal, at the present moment."

Geopolitical divides, hardened by the 7-month-old war, are likely to be on full display as the United States and Western allies compete with Russia for diplomatic influence.

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that "other countries have expressed the concern that ... as we focus on Ukraine, we are not paying attention to what is happening in other crises around the world."

"That is not the case," she told reporters, adding that while Ukraine will be featured this week, "it will not be the only thing that we're dealing with."

Guterres said the geopolitical rifts were "the widest they have been since at least the Cold War." He warned they "are paralyzing the global response to the dramatic challenges we face," citing war, climate, poverty, hunger and inequality.

Russia and Ukraine are major grain and fertilizer exporters, and the United Nations has blamed the war for worsening the food crisis that was already fueled by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The United States is due to co-host a food security summit with the European Union and the African Union on the sidelines of the U.N. gathering, along with a COVID-19 global action plan ministerial meeting and a replenishment conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

"Underlying a lot of these meetings will be a huge amount of tension between Western countries and representatives of the global south in particular," said Richard Gowan, U.N. director at the International Crisis Group.

"There's still a lot of ill feeling over issues such as the COVID vaccine rollout, climate financing ... and now food prices. All these issues are driving major wedges amongst U.N. member states," Gowan said.


Russia has been trying to chip away at its international isolation after nearly three-quarters of the General Assembly voted to reprimand Moscow and demand it withdraw its troops within a week of its Feb. 24 invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his U.S. counterpart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and French President Emmanuel Macron have all visited African states in the past several months, vying for influence. Africa has been hit hard, with a famine expected to be declared in Somalia in the coming months.

Macron intends to use his two-day visit to New York to lobby countries that have remained neutral regarding the war to try to bring them in line with the West, French officials said, with a focus on India, Gulf countries, Africa and some Latin American states.

"What we need is peace in Europe, a turning away from great power confrontation and its endangerment of global security, and the shaping of a fairer and more responsive multilateral order," said Kenya's U.N. ambassador, Martin Kimani. "That's where they need to pay attention, as do we all."

Russia's strategic partner China has been firmly on the fence, criticizing Western sanctions against Russia but stopping short of endorsing or assisting in the military campaign. In a surprise acknowledgment, Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said Chinese leader Xi Jinping had concerns about Ukraine.

'Gender Apartheid'

For the past two years, leaders were allowed to submit video statements because of pandemic restrictions, but this year they have to travel to New York to speak in the General Assembly chamber. Putin and Xi are sending their foreign ministers.

The General Assembly, however, agreed on Friday to allow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to send a recorded video statement. The decision was adopted with 101 votes in favor, seven against and 19 abstentions.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is expected to attend a U.N. Security Council ministerial meeting on Thursday on Ukraine, along with Blinken, Lavrov and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The U.S. president is traditionally the second leader to address the General Assembly, but Joe Biden will speak on Wednesday this year. His appearance has been delayed because he traveled to London for Queen Elizabeth's funeral on Monday.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that so far, Lavrov had received requests for about 20 meetings with other leaders.

She told reporters in Moscow that Russia would advocate "the strengthening of the U.N.'s central coordinating role in world affairs and strict observance of its Charter, including the principles of the sovereign equality of states and non-interference in their internal affairs."

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is also traveling to New York. While it is unlikely Tehran and Washington will overcome an impasse to salvage the 2015 nuclear pact soon, Iran will use the gathering to keep the diplomatic ball rolling by repeating its willingness to reach a sustainable deal.

While Ukraine will dominate the weeklong U.N. event, the climate crisis will also garner attention. But many other global crises are likely to take a back seat, such as the loss of women's rights in Afghanistan since the Taliban regained power of the country 13 months ago.

Afghan lawmaker Naheed Farid urged world leaders to "name the regime of Afghanistan as a gender apartheid," telling reporters in New York: "This language was a catalyst to change in South Africa and can be a catalyst to change in Afghanistan."

Reuters contributed to this report.

© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

The war in Ukraine is expected to dominate the U.N. General Assembly meeting this week, The Hill reports.
united nations, ukraine, russia
Monday, 19 September 2022 05:55 PM
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