Updated Sep 19, 2023 - World

Biden warns against allowing Russia to "brutalize Ukraine" with no consequence

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

President Biden in his UN General Assembly speech Tuesday called for more international support for Ukraine and stressed the need for more cooperation between countries on issues like development, climate, artificial intelligence and infrastructure.

What he's saying: For the second year, the UN General Assembly "is darkened by the shadow of…an illegal war by Russia against Ukraine," Biden said. "Russia alone bears responsibility for this war. Russia alone has the power to end this war immediately."

  • Biden warned that Russia believes the world will grow tired of the war and stop providing support and assistance to Ukraine.
  • "Russia believes the world will grow weary, and allow it to brutalize Ukraine without consequence," he said.
  • "If we allow Ukraine to be carved up" no country's sovereignty is secure, he told world leaders. "We want this war to end. We support Ukraine's efforts to bring about a diplomatic solution," Biden said, drawing applause from leaders in the crowd, including Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky.

On China, Biden said the U.S. seeks "to responsibly manage competition" with Beijing "so it doesn't tip into conflict."

  • Biden made clear the U.S. policy towards China is "de-risking not de-coupling." And he stressed that while the U.S. will stand against China's aggressive actions, it also stands ready to work together with Beijing on issues like climate change.

On the Middle East, Biden said the U.S. is working on normalization between Israel and the Arab world, and, at the same time, continues to work on getting peace between Israel and the Palestinians based on "two states for two peoples."

Zoom out: Biden also called on countries to come together as the world faces an "inflection point in world history."

  • "As president of the United States, I understand the duty my country has to lead in this critical moment" and to "work with countries in every region, linking them to a common cause," he said, adding that the future of the U.S. is "bound" to the future of all countries.

Biden stressed the need to strengthen the UN and other international institutions, including implementing reforms that will allow more countries to benefit from and influence the work of these organizations.

What to watch: Zelensky is also scheduled to speak on Tuesday — his first in-person speech at the UN General Assembly since Russia's invasion.

  • Biden and Zelensky will meet at the White House on Thursday. They are expected to hold a joint press conference, according to Ukrainian sources. The Biden administration noted, however, that nothing is finalized.

Biden will meet on Tuesday with the leaders of five Central Asian nations — Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

  • It will be the first time this forum, which includes countries that border Russia or China, will meet at the leaders level.
  • On Tuesday evening, Biden will host the traditional reception for the world leaders who participate in the UN General Assembly.
  • He will meet separately with Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday before traveling back to Washington later that evening.

Flashback: Biden rebukes Russia's "outrageous" invasion of Ukraine in 2o22 UN speech

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details throughout.

Go deeper