During his address to the United Nations General Assembly, President Joe Biden passionately urged world leaders to stand firmly with Ukraine in its ongoing struggle against Russia. He cautioned against Russia’s strategy of counting on other nations growing weary of the conflict and stressed that if the support provided by the U.S. and other nations were to wane, it would leave every nation vulnerable and isolated in the face of potential aggression.
Biden emphasized the critical importance of not allowing Ukraine to be dismembered, asking, “If you allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?” He firmly suggested that the answer to this question is a resounding “no.” His condemnation of Russia’s invasion and his plea for continued aid to Ukraine garnered the only round of applause during his half-hour speech.
These remarks come at a time when polls indicate a decline in U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense, which poses a challenge to Biden’s commitment to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” He recognizes the need to bolster the resolve of Americans, particularly in the face of economic pressures at home.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, an inspirational figure in Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, is currently in the U.S. and will meet with President Biden at the White House. Zelenskyy’s presence is seen as a positive development, as he has the ability to personalize the human costs of the war in Ukraine.
Aside from addressing the U.N., Biden’s visit to Manhattan includes private meetings with world leaders and fundraising events for his 2024 re-election campaign. On Wednesday, he is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose proposed overhaul of the judicial system has sparked concerns about its impact on checks and balances.
In his U.N. address, Biden also emphasized the urgency of addressing climate change and the need for collective action among nations to address global challenges. This stance was a clear departure from the “America First” approach taken by former President Donald Trump.
Biden faces increasing difficulty in convincing the American public of the ongoing importance of the war in Ukraine. A recent CNN poll showed that 51% of respondents believed the U.S. had done enough to assist Ukraine in its fight against Russia, compared to 48% who wanted more involvement. At the start of Russia’s invasion, 62% believed the U.S. should do more.
Biden is aware of the need to act swiftly, as funding for the conflict may not be sustainable for much longer. The visit of President Zelenskyy to the White House is seen as a strategy to maintain pressure on the situation. However, there is a growing sense of impatience, as evidenced by House Republicans’ proposal to avert a government shutdown, which did not include any reference to aid for Ukraine.
A Ukrainian victory in the war would deal a significant blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his territorial ambitions. It would also help President Biden in his efforts to isolate an autocratic leader whose actions have raised concerns among neighboring NATO countries.
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President Biden underscored his commitment to not aligning with autocrats like Putin, making it clear that his approach differs from that of former President Trump and his supporters.