Russia’s Invasion Shadows U.N. Assembly Amid ‘Colossal Global Dysfunction’

Divided by war, strained by deprivation and facing a cataclysm of global warming, dozens of world leaders convened at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday for Congress. First full personal coin since the pandemic began.

Out of all the global crises, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dominated the day, with heads of state addressing the violence of the conflict, supply chain chaos, energy prices. elevation and other effects of war.

“We cannot continue like this,” said António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his opening remarks. “We have a duty to act. However, we are stuck in a massive global dysfunction. “

At least two presidents, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Emmanuel Macron of France, have used the United Nations as a stage to portray themselves as peaceful participants in the war in Ukraine.

Mr. Erdogan met with Russian President Vladimir V. Putin in Uzbekistan last week and urged him to return the occupied territories in Ukraine – reflecting growing pressure on Mr. Putin from countries such as India and China which are important sources of economic support for Russia in the face of Western sanctions.

Mr. Macron spent months with Putin, seemingly with little success, although he helped keep Europe united after Ukraine. On Tuesday, the president of France is Most Outstanding Speaker of the Western alliance against Russia, and he vehemently denounced the invasion – even as he insisted that he could play a role in mediating peace.

“What we have seen since February 24 is a throwback to the era of imperialism and colonialism,” he told the council, referring to the date the Russian invasion began. “France denies this. France, obstinately, will seek peace”.

But it remains unclear how any of the world leaders gathered in New York will be able to sway Mr. Putin, who has chosen not to attend the conference, or what the UN may be determined to do. this week, however popularity is high. but not universal anger toward Mr. Putin.

As a member of the United Nations Security Council, Russia wields veto power over its actions, forcing nations and allies to come up with their own policies – and forcing Mr. Guterres must focus on specific crises, such as an agreement to eliminate grain exports. The ports of Ukraine and the mission to stabilize the Russian-controlled nuclear plant in Ukraine.

Erdogan, Turkey’s tolerant president, has played a central role in the grain talks, and on Tuesday he stressed his role in that deal and the host of the talks. indiscriminate negotiation. Words of Peace March.

“We think that the war will never be won, and that a fair peace process will have no losers,” he told the council. “We need a decent way out of this crisis, through a reasonable, fair and applicable diplomatic process.”

Throughout the war, Mr. Erdogan has managed to maintain a close relationship with Mr. Putin, seeking to minimize the damage from the war in Turkey as he enters an election year with the country’s economy faltering. . He also denounced The invasionand say in an interview TV on Monday by PBS that Russia should return all of the Ukrainian territory it had captured.

“This is what is expected,” Erdogan said in the interview. “This is what is desired.”

Since the war began, Mr. Macron has spoken periodically with Mr. Putin and stressed that Ukraine and Russia will have to negotiate to end the conflict.

On Tuesday, the French leader challenged countries that remained “neutral” in the war, saying they were “wrong” and made a “historic” mistake. “Those who are keeping silent today are, in a way, complicit in the cause of a new imperialism,” he said.

He called on members of the United Nations Security Council “to act so that Russia rejects the path of war and assesses the cost to itself and to all of us – and indeed to end its aggression.” this comb.”

Mr Macron and Mr Erdogan were two of the most closely watched speakers on Tuesday in the absence of President Biden, whose speech was delayed by a trip to Britain for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II. The US leader will speak ahead of the meeting on Wednesday, when he is expected to speak on the topics of international cooperation and human rights, while warning that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violates the law. international law and threaten order.

The war has affected much of Europe, spurred Sweden and Finland to apply to join NATO and prompted even Ignazio Cassis, the famously neutral Swiss president, on Tuesday to declare that “action Russia’s military aggression” violates the UN Charter.

“Neutrality does not mean indifference,” he said. “Neutrality does not mean lack of unity.”

To some extent, the war also gave the United Nations a new purpose – if it was trying to deal with urgent crises, such as the safety of a large nuclear power plant captured by Russian troops in Ukraine.

For Mr. Guterres, the conflict has suddenly elevated his role as a humanitarian mediator. He bluntly condemned Russia’s violation of the UN charter and called for an investigation into potential crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

Guterres said on Tuesday the war had “caused widespread destruction with massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law”.

But when war broke out during the meeting, the leaders of a number of smaller countries mentioned the conflict only briefly in their speeches, reflecting the reluctance of many to get caught up in the competition. war and economic sanctions, imposed on Russia since the war. started.

In their view, the focus on war has drawn global attention away from the crises they face, including climate change, food shortages and internal conflict.

Macky Sall, president of Senegal, urged the great powers not to let their rivalry sow new destruction on the African continent. “Africa has borne the brunt of history enough,” he said. “It doesn’t want to be the site of a new Cold War.”

For leaders from the Middle East, the war in Ukraine is not the most pressing issue. King Abdullah II of Jordan and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, ignored the fighting there and instead called on parliament to support the long unresolved Palestinian cause.

The leaders of the two mid-sized powers also expressed shared concern about the challenges facing their countries and the world, but did so without blaming anyone.

President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea, without naming any countries in his speech, said that freedom and peace were in “jeopardy”. And Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, has called on the international community to address the humanitarian effect of the fighting, especially over energy and food.

The coronavirus pandemic, although it has kept world leaders from gathering for two years, is not the focus of the discussion. But its presence is still felt, illustrating the struggles of UN officials trying to entice officials into even the most minimal cooperation. Calling the order board, the session chair, Csaba Korosi, begged them to heed the rules.

“I would like to remind members that attendees must wear masks at all times while indoors, except when speaking in person at the meeting,” he said, as presidents, ministers and diplomats left. around, most don’t wear masks.

Report contributed by Carlotta Gall, Cora Engelbrecht, Yonette Joseph and Jack Nicas.

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