Zelensky to address UN meeting – on video from Ukraine – News

Putin won’t attend annual gathering of world leaders

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Published: Wed Sep 21, 2022 5:30 PM

With his nation at war, Ukraine’s president turns to the world again on Wednesday, addressing the leaders of the United Nations General Assembly via video link hours after Russia announced a partial mobilization of its military to put down more resources available for the conflict.

On the very day that the leaders of two of the world’s most scrutinized nations – US President Joe Biden and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi – step in to have their say, Volodymyr Zelensky will become the only leader allowed to speak without appearing.

The 193-member assembly voted last week to allow Zelensky to give a pre-recorded speech because of his need to deal with Russia’s attack, making an exception to his requirement that all leaders speak in person. Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the annual gathering of world leaders.

Unsurprisingly, Ukraine was the center of attention at the assembly, with leaders after world leaders condemning Russia for attacking a sovereign nation. The war, which has already claimed thousands of lives, is driving up food prices around the world while driving up energy costs – a particularly worrying issue as winter approaches. It also raised fears of a nuclear disaster at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine, now occupied by Russia.

At the United Nations, where peace and dialogue are fundamental principles, leaders from many countries are trying to prevent wider conflict and restore peace in Europe. Diplomats, however, expect no breakthrough this week at the United Nations, where nearly 150 leaders address each other and the world.

“Helping Ukraine protect itself was not just the right choice to make,” said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. “It was the only choice consistent with the ideals of justice and brotherhood that underpin the Charter of the United Nations and the resolutions this Assembly has adopted since the beginning of the conflict.”

Biden’s speech on Wednesday is expected to focus heavily on the war in Ukraine, where the country’s troops have in recent weeks regained control of large swathes of territory in the northeast.

But even as Ukrainian forces have racked up battlefield victories, much of Europe is feeling a painful backlash from the economic sanctions imposed on Russia to punish Moscow for its invasion.

In the White House, there are also growing fears that Putin could escalate the conflict after recent setbacks. Biden, in a CBS-TV “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday, warned Putin that deploying nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine would prompt a “consecutive” response from the United States.

Biden’s visit to the UN also comes as his administration’s efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal appear to have stalled. The deal brokered by the Obama administration — and scrapped by Trump in 2018 — provided billions of dollars in sanctions relief in return for Iran agreeing to dismantle much of its nuclear program and open its facilities to international inspection.

Iran’s president said he had no plans to meet Biden on the sidelines of the UN event. Raisi called his first-ever appearance at the United Nations as Iran’s leader an opportunity to explain to the world the alleged “malevolence” that unspecified nations and world powers have towards Iran, but he did not give details.

Iran has come under international criticism over the death of a woman in the custody of its vice police which sparked days of protests including clashes with security forces in the capital and other unrest which killed at least three people.

Christi C. Elwood