WASHINGTON: The United States and its allies had another chance to make Vladimir Putin a lone pariah on the world stage with this week’s gathering of world leaders in New York, even as the United Nations failed to stop or even curb Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The big question is whether condemnation will matter and whether some reluctant nations will turn words into deeds.
Speech after speech, leaders appearing before the General Assembly condemned the Russian invasion of its neighbor. They also sought to reinvigorate efforts to address the global food crisis sparked by the war, including the United States’ announcement of $2.9 billion in additional food aid. the UN security Council was due to convene on Ukraine on Thursday in a meeting where Russia’s actions were certain to be condemned despite the veto it holds to prevent real action.
“This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, plain and simple,” President Joe Biden told the General Assembly in a speech on Wednesday. “If nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences, then we are jeopardizing everything this institution stands for – everything.”
While the response from Biden and other Western leaders came as no surprise, even some leaders previously hesitant to take sides have been a little more blunt in calling out Putin. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to portray himself as a mediator, but also used an interview with PBS NewsHour to urge Cheese fries return the occupied territory to Ukraine.
“The lands that were invaded will be returned to Ukraine,” Erdogan said. Yet the Turkish leader has refrained from directly blaming Putin, instead calling for a negotiated solution.
The war in Ukraine has not only dominated the official discourse that characterizes this busy week of global diplomacy. The conflict also shapes many two-way conversations between leaders in boardrooms and frames the hushed conversations in the hallways of the city’s crowded luxury hotels.
So far, however, Putin seemed indifferent to all criticism.
As he has done frequently in the past, President Putin skipped the big General Assembly week, sending Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in his place, and seemingly thumbed his nose at all calls to peace by accelerating war. As diplomatic events are in full swing, he announced the partial mobilization of 300,000 additional troops and declared his intention to hold referenda and annex the territory his troops still occupied.
“The UN was created to help avoid such circumstances, but as long as Russia has veto power in the Security Council and can wage wars of aggression, the UN cannot serve this purpose.” , former US Ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst said in an interview with Bloomberg. Television’s “Balance of Power With David Westin”.
There may be more to come, from nations that have more influence on Putin. He has come under criticism – albeit moderate – from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in recent weeks, even though the Indian leader has not participated in US-led efforts to impose sanctions on the country. Russia during the war.
Modi will not attend this week’s event in New York, but his foreign minister could exert some pressure in India’s September 25 speech.
At the same time, there was plenty of evidence that despite all the condemnation from the West, other countries still wanted to do business with Russia. Lavrov had a full list of meetings – although his team didn’t specify with whom.
Senegalese Macky Sall called for a “negotiated solution” to the crisis and urged leaders not to divide less powerful nations along ideological lines.
“Africa has suffered enough from the burden of history,” he said. “He does not want to be the site of a new cold war.”
Although some countries in Southeast Asia and Africa have been reluctant to join in on sanctions against Moscow, the global food crisis has also attracted immense attention this week, which has worsened considerably in the wake of the war. from Russia.
“Zambia joins other governments in expressing its particular concern over the ongoing war in Ukraine,” President Hakainde Hichilema said from the UN rostrum on Wednesday afternoon. “We also take this opportunity to highlight the profound negative consequences of this war, especially on food prices around the world.”
“A few months of war can wipe out decades of progress,” he said.
With Russia having veto power as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the UN will have to rely on such displays of unity.
“We have to face the fact that the credibility of the United Nations is at stake because of the aggression against Ukraine by Russia, a permanent member of the Security Council,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tuesday from the rostrum. , criticizing the “dysfunction” of the Security Council – where it is not among the permanent members – and noting Tokyo’s long-standing desire for an overhaul of the UN. “The United Nations does not exist solely for the benefit of the great powers. The United Nations exists for the entire international community.”
The most impassioned cri de coeur about Putin’s invasion came from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who sought to draw attention to the deep divisions in his speech launching the week of meetings and speech.
“We can’t go on like this,” said António Guterres. “We have a duty to act. And yet we are stuck in a colossal global dysfunction.”

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