Sep 20, 2017

Pence hits Russia in UN speech

Mike Pence sits with Nikki Haley at the UN Security Council. Photo: Mary Altaffer / AP

Vice President Mike Pence wrapped Russia together with the worst state actors in the world in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly today, naming it among the countries and terror groups "who seek to undermine...sovereignty, prosperity, and security."

Why this matters: What Pence said about Russia is as important as the context in which he said it. He rhetorically grouped Russia with the menaces of Iran, North Korea, and radical Islamic terrorism, making his one of the harshest messages the Trump administration has sent to Russia in nine months.

  • Trump didn't call out Russia by name in his speech to the UN on Tuesday, though he did obliquely criticize the Kremlin's occupation of Crimea, saying: "We must reject threats to sovereignty from the Ukraine to the South China Sea."

Here are the key grabs, from Pence's speech to the UN Security Council Wednesday morning:

"For as President Trump observed yesterday, we are once again confronted, in his words, by 'those who threaten us with chaos, turmoil, and terror,' who seek to undermine the sovereignty, prosperity, and security, all of which the President called the 'pillars of peace.'

"In Eastern Europe, Russia continues to compromise the sovereignty of its neighbors and seeks to redraw international borders by force. Radical Islamic Terrorism continues to beset nations with barbarous attacks – in Barcelona, Paris, London. In the Middle East, the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism continues to flout the spirit of Iran Deal, destabilizing the region and brazenly threatening the security of sovereign nations. And as the world has seen in just the past few days, the depraved regime in North Korea is relentlessly pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles – and now, as the president said, 'threatens the entire world with unthinkable loss of human life'."

Pence also echoed Trump's attacks on the Human Rights Council — a UN body that conservatives frequently lambast for what they argue is unfair and hypocritical scrutiny of Israel.

  • "The truth is, the Human Rights Council doesn't deserve its name...Today, the United Nations Human Rights Council actually attracts and welcomes many of the worst human rights violators in the world...As to its operation I think of what President John F. Kennedy warned more than 50 years ago. That the United Nations must not become a 'forum for invective' – and yet today, its Human Rights Council has become exactly that – a forum for anti-Semitism and invective against Israel."
  • "It is, as the President said, a 'massive source of embarrassment' – and we call on the Security Council and this entire body to immediately reform the membership and practices of the Human Rights Council – and end the Human Rights Council's blatant bias against our cherished ally, Israel."
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