President of the United States Joe Biden strongly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Wednesday, telling the United Nations General Assembly that unprovoked war directly violates the organization’s charter and warning Russia’s president of an escalating nuclear threat Vladimir Putin.
“Let’s be clear: a permanent member of the UN Security Council invaded his neighbor, tried to wipe a sovereign state off the map,” Biden said, speaking at the UN headquarters in New York. “Russia has shamelessly violated the basic principles of the Charter of the United Nations, none more important than the express prohibition of countries to seize the territory of their neighbor by force.”
Biden’s remarks came as Europe faced its own the biggest crisis since World War II while countries struggle with how to contain Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The event marks the first in-person meeting of the UN General Assembly in three years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Putin’s own words make his true purpose unmistakable: Immediately before the invasion, Putin said, and I quote, ‘Ukraine was created by Russia’ and never had ‘real statehood,'” Biden said. “This war is the plain and simple destruction of Ukraine’s right to state existence.”
Putin announced a partial military mobilization in Russia early Wednesday morning in pre-recorded televised appearances. In his speech, the Russian president did not provide many details about what the partial military mobilization would entail, but it could mean that Russian businesses and citizens would have to contribute more to the war effort. Russia has not yet declared war on Ukraine, despite the invasion in February, and calls its invasion a “special military operation”.
However, in his morning speech, Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons, which Biden sharply rebuked.
“Regardless of what else happens in the world, the United States stands ready to pursue critical arms control measures. A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought,” Biden said. “Russia is deviating from the ideals of non-proliferation that all other countries accepted at the Tenth NPT Review Conference, and today, as I said, they are making irresponsible threats to use nuclear weapons.”
A senior White House official told NBC News that a line was added to Biden’s remarks in response to Putin’s address.
A similar opinion was expressed by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres introductory word to the body on Tuesday, saying “the world is in danger and paralyzed”, citing poverty, climate change and war.
“The UN Charter and the ideals it represents are under threat and we have a duty to act,” Guterres said on Tuesday.