Biden denounces Putin’s nuclear threats as ‘reckless’ in UN address | Joe Biden

Joe Biden and allied leaders have reacted angrily to Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons and pledged to maintain support for Ukraine’s support in the face of Russia’s partial mobilization and planned annexation of more Ukrainian regions.

Appearing before the UN general assembly on Wednesday, Biden sought to unite the international community in the face of what he called “reckless” threats and “an extremely significant violation” of the UN charter.

The US president was speaking hours after Putin announced Russia’s first mobilization since the second world war and warned that his country had “lots of weapons to reply” to what he claimed western threats on its territory.

Biden portrayed the Russian leader and his “imperial ambitions” as a threat to the founding values ​​of the UN, seeking to consolidate Ukraine’s global support and coax some developing countries away from their neutral stance, as Putin raised the stakes.

“This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, plain and simple, and Ukraine’s right to exist as a people. Wherever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should make your blood run cold,” Biden said. “Because if nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences, then we put at risk everything this very institution stands for.”

‘This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state,’ says Biden – video

Earlier on Wednesday, Putin had delivered a highly anticipated televised address to declare a “partial mobilisation” which he claimed was a direct response to the west, he said wanted to destroy our country and was trying to “turn” Ukraine’s people into cannon fodder”.

“Military service will apply only to citizens who are currently in the reserve, especially those who have served in the armed forces, have certain military professions and relevant experience,” he said.

Vladimir Putin announces partial mobilization of Russian troops for Ukraine – video

Shortly after Putin’s announcement, the country’s defense ministry, Sergei Shoigu, said 300,000 Russians would be called up as part of the mobilization that will apply to “those with previous military experience”.

The announcement triggered an exodus of Russian men scrambling to avoid the draft. Air tickets rose in price and were soon sold out. Russian opposition groups called for nationwide anti-war street protests and by Wednesday evening, more than 650 people had been arrested at the demonstrations, according to the independent protest monitoring group OVD-Info.

The Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, slammed Russian plans to stage referendums in the occupied regions as a “noise” and thanked Ukraine’s allies for denouncing the votes.

“Putin’s announcement of a partial mobilization is an act of desperation,” the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said on Twitter. “Russia cannot win this criminal war. Putin has underestimated the situation from the outset – including the will to resist of Ukraine and the resolve shown by his friends.”

The UK defense secretary, Ben Wallace, said Putin’s announcement was “an admission that his invasion is failing” and that “Russia is becoming a global pariah”.

Nato’s secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, said that there had been no perceived nuclear forces change in the Russian deployment.

“The most important thing is to prevent that from happening, and that’s reason why we have been so clear in our communications with Russia about the unprecedented consequences, about the fact that the nuclear war cannot be won by Russia,” Stoltenberg told Reuters.

Putin’s announcement came a day after Russian-controlled regions in eastern and southern Ukraine announced plans to hold “referendums” this weekend on becoming part of Russia. In his speech Putin gave support to those ballots in the parts of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia under Russian control.

He also delivered barely veiled nuclear threats against Nato, saying: “I want to remind you that our country also has various means of destruction, and for separate components and more modern than those of Nato countries and when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened , to protect Russia and our people, we will certainly use all the means at our disposal.”

Putin added: “It’s not a bluff.”

The Russian leader and his senior officials have made a string of similar nuclear threats since launching the invasion in February, in an effort to deter Nato countries from intervening. But in his UN speech on Wednesday, Biden sought to make the US clear and its allies would not be deterred from supporting Ukraine’s fight to defend its territory.

“Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenets of the United Nations charter, none more important than the clear prohibition against countries taking the territory of their neghbour by force,” Biden said. “The Kremlin is organizing a sham referendum to try to annex parts of Ukraine, an extremely significant violation of the UN charter. This world should see these outrageous acts for what they are.

“Again, just today, President Putin has made overt nuclear threats against Europe and a reckless disregard for the responsibilities of the non proliferation regime,” he said, adding that such “irresponsible nuclear threats” directly contradicted Russia’s international responsibilities and its agreement with a joint statement by nuclear weapons powers at the beginning of this year that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”.

Seeking support from the developing world in what he framed a contest between democracy and dictatorship, Biden offered US support for reform of the UN security council to make it more inclusive and billion dollars for global food security and efforts to curb disease.

US officials have conceded that their focus on Ukraine has led some developing countries from the Global South to feel that their concerns were being ignored in a great power showdown.

In his speech on Wednesday, Biden sought to address those fears, pledging $2.9bn for food security this year, and $6bn for the Global Fund to Fight Aids Tuberculosis and Malaria.

He also threw in US security support behind a longstanding demand for a more inclusive and representative council with more permanent and non-permanent members, including permanent seats for countries from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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