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Zelensky to UN: Criminal Russia ‘weaponizing’ food, energy

By Jake Beardslee · September 20, 2023

In brief…

  • In an impassioned UN speech, Ukrainian President Zelensky called for international unity against Russia's invasion and warned of a nuclear threat.
  • Zelensky will visit President Joe Biden and address Congress this week to seek more military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
  • Some conservative Republican lawmakers are pushing to halt further assistance to Ukraine.
  • House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he has "questions" for Zelensky and wants accountability for aid already provided.
In his UN address, Ukraine' President Zelensky urged unity against Russia's invasion invastion of his beleaguered nation.  President Of Ukraine from Україна/Wikimedia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky implored world leaders to unite against Russia’s aggression in a rousing speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.

Clad in his signature olive polo shirt, Zelensky warned in English that “the treacherous radiation threat” of nuclear war lingers without unified international action.

“Let unity decide everything openly,” Zelensky declared.

The leader of war-torn Ukraine asserted that “while Russia is pushing the world to the final war, Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that after Russian aggression no one in the world will dare to attack any nation.”

Zelensky said Ukraine has a “real chance to end the aggression on the terms of the nation that was attacked” with international unity, which would show “every nation” will have “the same outcome if attacked.”

Zelensky slammed Russia for “weaponizing food, energy and attacks on children.” He highlighted the “tens of thousands of children…kidnapped by Russia in the occupied territories of Ukraine and later deported,” asking “what will happen to them?”

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for these alleged crimes.

The Ukrainian leader spoke just hours after U.S. President Joe Biden also called for unity against Russia’s offensive in his General Assembly address.

“If we abandon the core principles of the United States to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected?” Biden asked. “If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?”

Zelensky is set to meet with Biden at the White House on Thursday and address Congress again to seek additional military and humanitarian aid as some conservative Republican lawmakers have pushed to halt assistance.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said he has “questions” for Zelensky and wants accountability for previously allocated aid.

In his Tuesday speech, Zelensky asserted “evil cannot be trusted,” in an apparent jab at Russia’s allies. He also referenced slain Russian mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin, advising Russia’s partners to “ask Prigozhin about Putin’s promises,” alluding to the Wagner Group chief’s mysterious death in a plane crash last month.