Russia is left an outlier among world leaders gathered at the UN

WASHINGTON: America and its allies have a new opportunity to use Vladimir Putin look like an isolated on the global stage with a gathering of world leaders in New York this week, even as the United Nations has failed to stop or even contain Russia’s war. in Ukraine.
The big question is whether condemnation matters, and whether some countries hesitate to choose sides that will turn words into action.
In speech after speech, the leaders who appeared before the General Assembly condemned Russia’s act of aggression against its neighbour. They also sought to give new impetus to efforts to combat the global food crisis caused by war, including the US announcement of an additional $2.9 billion in food aid. UN Security Council is expected to meet Ukraine on Thursday in a meeting where Russia’s actions are certain to be condemned, although it has the veto power to block actual action.
“This war is about stamping out Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, plain and simple,” the President Joe Biden told the General Assembly in a speech on Wednesday. “If nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequence, then we will risk everything this institution itself stands for – everything.”
While the reaction from Biden and other Western leaders came as no surprise, even some of the leaders who had previously been wary of taking sides were a bit more outspoken in calling Putin. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to choose himself as a mediator but also used the interview with PBS NewsHour to urge Putin to return the occupied territory to Ukraine.
“The invaded lands will be returned to Ukraine,” Erdogan said. However, the Turkish leader refrained from blaming Putin directly, instead calling for a negotiated solution.
The war in Ukraine has dominated more than the official speeches that have characterized this busy week of global diplomacy. Conflict is also shaping much of the bilateral conversation between leaders in boardrooms, and framing private conversations in the lobbies of luxury hotels that fill the city.
So far, however, Putin seems undaunted by all the criticism.
As has often been the case in the past, President Putin skipped the big week of the General Assembly, appointed Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in his place and seemed to heed any calls for peace by hastening the war. With diplomatic events in full swing, he announced the partial mobilization of up to 300,000 more troops and announced his intention to hold referendums and annex the territory still held by his army.
“The United Nations was created to help avoid cases like this but as long as Russia has a veto in the Security Council and can wage aggressive wars, the UN cannot serve that purpose,” the former Ambassador said. US ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst said in an interview on Bloomberg Television “Balance of Power with David Westin.”
There could be more, from countries that have more influence over Putin. He has faced criticism – albeit mild – from the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi in recent weeks, although the Indian leader has not joined the US-led efforts to impose sanctions on Russia over the war.
Modi will not attend this week’s event in New York but his foreign minister could bring some pressure in India’s speech on September 25.
At the same time, there is a lot of evidence that all the condemnations from the West, other countries still want to do business with Russia. Lavrov had a series of meetings – although his staffers did not tell anyone.
Senegal’s Macky Sall called for a “negotiated solution” to the crisis and urged leaders not to split the less powerful nations along ideological lines.
“Africa has borne the brunt of history enough,” he said. “It doesn’t want to be the site of a new Cold War.”
Although some countries in Southeast Asia and Africa have been reluctant to join the sanctions against Moscow, this week there is also great attention on the global food crisis, which has worsened. as a result of the Russian war.
“Zambia joins other governments in expressing particular concern about the ongoing war in Ukraine,” President Hakainde Hichilema said from the United Nations podium on Wednesday afternoon. “We also take this opportunity to highlight the far-reaching negative consequences of this war, particularly on food prices around the world.”
“A few months of war can erase decades of progress,” he said.
With Russia holding a veto as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, the United Nations will have to rely on such unified expressions.
“We must face the fact that the credibility of the United Nations is at stake due to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, a permanent member of the Security Council,” said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. from the podium on Tuesday, criticizing the “dysfunction” of the Security Council – which is not among its permanent members – and noting Tokyo’s longstanding desire for an overhaul of the United Nations. country. “The United Nations does not exist just for the sake of the great powers. The United Nations exists for the international community as a whole.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who sought to call attention to the deep divisions in his opening remarks to the week and his speech.
“We can’t go on like this,” Guterres said. “We have a duty to act. However, we are stuck in a huge global dysfunction.”

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