(Bloomberg) — World leaders got a chance to mingle in person as the United Nations General Assembly kicked off this week with the war in Ukraine taking yet another critical turn.
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Russia’s seven-month-old invasion of its neighbor dominated the debate, both from the podium and on the sidelines. As the session began, news broke that the Kremlin was racing to stage sham votes on annexing the regions of Ukraine its forces still control. In his first speech as German chancellor to the General Assembly, Olaf Scholz accused Vladimir Putin of “sheer imperialism” and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said the UN’s response to the Russian president’s aggression is a measure of the integrity of the world body.
Click here for the full schedule of speakers on Tuesday.
(All times ET)
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Scholz Slams Putin for Defying Global Peace (8:32 p.m.)
Scholz called on other countries to condemn the Russian president’s decision to invade Ukraine. “The return of imperialism is not just a disaster for Europe. This is also a disaster for our global peace order, which is the antithesis of imperialism and neo-colonialism,” Scholz said.
Putin will only give up the war when he realizes that he can’t win and he’s isolated, the chancellor added. He condemned Russia’s attempts to stage “sham referenda” in the eastern regions of Ukraine.
Scholz added the Security Council must be reformed to better reflect the rise of developing countries. He has been asking member states to support Germany’s candidacy.
The chancellor denounced China for its human right record. “A few weeks ago, the former High Commissioner for Human Rights presented us with her report on the situation of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang,” Scholz said, adding the Chinese government should implement those recommendations.
UN Report Accuses China of ‘Serious’ Rights Abuses in Xinjiang
Japan PM Says UN’s Credibility at Stake (8:10 p.m.)
Kishida said the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a member of the UN Security Council, puts the credibility of the United Nations at stake. In a speech to the General Assembly, he called for an end to decades of debate on the “dysfunctionality” of the council and said a swift start should be made on reforms.
A native of Hiroshima, one of the two cities to have suffered a World War II nuclear attack by the US, he called Russia’s threats to use atomic weapons “absolutely unacceptable.”
Truss Will Make Case in UN Speech for ‘Economic NATO’ (6 p.m.)
UK Prime Minister Liz Truss will use her first speech to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday to say allies should act as an “economic NATO,” in a reference to the post-World War II military alliance. She will say that it’s a mechanism needed to tackle the threat of authoritarian regimes such as Russia “who seek to weaponize the global economy.” She will also reiterate her plan to increase defense spending to 3% of UK national income by 2030.
Macron Warned Iran Against Nuclear Escalation (5:40 p.m.)
During a meeting on the sideline of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron warned his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi against any nuclear escalation or “destabilizing actions in the region” that would jeopardize the resumption of talks to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal.
Macron insisted that he regretted Iran’s response to the latest proposal on the table, according to a readout of the two leaders’ conversation shared by a Macron aide.
The French leader also expressed ‘’shock” at the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, who died after her arrest by the Iranian police, causing international outrage, and asked for “a transparent investigation to shed light on this tragedy.”
Iranian-Americans Gather Protest Presence of Raisi in NY (5:48 p.m.)
As violence erupted in Tehran, President Ebrahim Raisi was in New York where a different kind of protest awaited him.
Over 100 Iranians and New Yorkers alike gathered midtown on the corner of 44th and 2nd Avenue to try and intercept his arrival for the UN conferences this week. Attendees spanned all age groups evenly and many were adorned in yellow vests that read “a free Iran.” Signs referenced the death of Mahsa Amini and a plot to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton.
The unrest back home is some of the most violent in Iran since November 2019 protests over fuel price. It’s awkward timing for Raisi, a cleric who has spent much of his career helping to define the country’s Islamic laws, as he makes his first physical appearance at the UN General Assembly.
Almost all attendees communicated in fluent Farsi, though the protesters chants intermittently switch to English to say things like “down with terrorist regime of Iran, down with Khomeni, down with Raisi, Raisi is a murder.”
In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” with Raisi was asked whether his government had ordered the assassination of Bolton. He response, through a translator was: “That’s the type of the actions that the Americans and Zionist regimes are doing in the world. We are not going to carry out the same actions.”
Macron Accuses Putin of Return to ‘Imperialism’ (2:30 p.m.)
The French President, an unapologetic multilateralist, once again defended his decision to keep speaking to Vladimir Putin, and urged all countries to condemn the invasion of Ukraine explicitly.
“It’s not about picking a side between the East and the West, neither between the North and the South,” he said. “It’s about the responsibility of all those who care about the respect of the Charter, and about our most precious good: Peace.”
In some of his strongest language yet, he denounced Russia’s actions as a “return to the age of imperialism and colonies,” of trying to rope in the support of countries that have lived through colonialism and are now reluctant to raise their voice against Russia.
Those who remain silent today are complicit, he said, after slamming his fist on the lectern.
Erdogan Plays Up His Role as Mediator in Ukraine Crisis (2:03 p.m.)
The Turkish leader used his speech at the UN to paint himself as a mediator: “We need a dignified way out of this crisis, through a diplomatic process that is rational, fair and which is applicable.”
Earlier, in an interview with PBS in New York, he said he had “very extensive discussions” with President Vladimir Putin last week in Uzbekistan. Russia should return occupied territory to Ukraine as part of a peace settlement, Erdogan said.
“He is actually showing me that he’s willing to end this as soon as possible,” Erdogan, who has pushed Turkey as a mediator in the conflict, told the broadcaster. “That was my impression, because the way things are going right now is quite problematic.”
For NATO member Turkey, the relationship with Moscow is not just about potential financial support but a strategic alliance it can use to seek leverage with the West. Erdogan has had to navigate a tricky position since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He helped negotiate a deal to resume grain shipments from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. While helping to arm Kyiv, he’s also publicly defended Putin against sanctions and urged nations not to “underestimate” Russia.
Erdogan also accused Greece of forcibly pushing back migrants in the Aegean Sea and causing the deaths of at least two refugee children recently: “Greece is turning the Aegean into a refugee graveyard with its unlawful and reckless pushbacks.”
NATO’s Stoltenberg Decries ‘Sham’ Referendums (12:38 p.m.)
In an interview with Bloomberg Television, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg denounced Russia’s plans for what he called “sham” referendums in occupied parts of Ukraine, warning President Vladimir Putin against further escalating the conflict.
“Such sham votes, referendums, do not have any legitimacy, and therefore they do not change the nature of the conflict,” Stoltenberg said in Tuesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. “This will only further worsen the situation, and therefore we need to provide more support to Ukraine.”
North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies and partner countries “have to support Ukraine for as long as it takes, because the alternative is much more dangerous for all of us,” Stoltenberg said. “We have to understand that this goes beyond Ukraine.”
Colombia’s Leader Warns US of ‘Failed’ War on Drugs (11:49 a.m.)
Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro made a passionate speech to the UN warning that millions of young Americans will die if the “failed” war on drugs continues for another four decades.
Nearly three million US citizens will overdose on fentanyl if there’s no change of direction, he said.
Colombia’s first leftist president, who took office last month, also warned that US-led war on drugs has contributed to the destruction of the Amazon. Colombia is the world’s biggest producer of cocaine.
Chile’s President Gives Rousing Speech at UN Debut (11:22 a.m.)
The world’s youngest leader, Chile’s President Gabriel Boric, reminded his more experienced colleagues that the discontent over inequality and basic services that exploded into nationwide protests in his country in 2019 can also prompt unrest elsewhere, in a passionate speech calling for more government accountability.
The 36-year-old former student protest leader, who rose to prominence during his country’s 2019 social uprising and reached power in March, said Chile will soon have a constitution that makes the country proud. Boric also defended Ukraine after the ‘unfair’ aggression of Russia and spoke against human rights abuses around the world.
Truss Says Russia Should Pay Reparations to Ukraine (10:30 a.m.)
Truss told broadcasters at the Empire State Building that Russia should use its “vast oil and gas reserves” to pay reparations to Ukraine. She also said that the the US and its allies have a duty to halt Putin’s aggression “because he won’t stop at Ukraine.”
She is on her first foreign trip as the newly-installed prime minister following ten days of mourning for Queen Elizabeth II. Hers is the most high-profile UN debut. She comes to power at particularly tumultuous political period for the UK. For any UK leader, coming to America involves face time with the president. She and Joe Biden crossed paths in London for the Queen’s funeral but a more formal encounter won’t happen until Wednesday.
She also plans to meet French President Emmanuel Macron and the European Union’s Ursula von der Leyen against the backdrop of UK threats to rip up the post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.
In comments to reporters on the flight over, she said she was pessimistic about a trade deal between the UK and US coming together in short or even medium term. A trade accord with the US was once the great hope of the UK’s post-Brexit export policy.
Bolsonaro Touts His Feats at UN Before Brazil Vote (10:17 a.m.)
President Jair Bolsonaro said Brazil’s economy has quickly recovered from the pandemic, with inflation easing and activity gaining steam, as he tried to talk up his government’s image in his last major speech to a global audience before the country’s Oct. 2 election.
He also called for an end to economic sanctions imposed against Russia after its invasion of Ukraine, saying it’s exerting a heavy toll on the global economy. The right-wing leader, trailing his leftist challenger in all major opinion polls, delivered moderate remarks, departing from the aggressive rhetoric that’s all too common in his speeches.
Scholz, Erdogan discuss Russia’s War against Ukraine (10:00am)
Scholz met Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, one of the key conduits to Putin. They discussed on the sidelines of UNGA the ways to end Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Scholz, who currently heads the Group of Seven most industrialized countries, thanked Erdogan for his role as mediator to lift Russia’s blockage of grain exports from Ukraine. A readout released by Scholz’s office said that the chancellor” made it clear that sham referenda in areas illegally occupied by Russia are not acceptable and would not be given any recognition.”
Guterres Says World Is in ‘Peril and Paralyzed’ (9:30 a.m.)
Antonio Guterres, a former Portuguese prime minister who has been leading the UN since 2017, gave a stinging assessment of the state of world affairs and the inability of world leaders to take urgent action on a range of issues from climate change, to inequality and the war in Ukraine.
He was the first person to speak at the opening of the General Assembly and he did not hold back.
“Let’s have no illusions. We are in rough seas. A winter of global discontent is on the horizon,” he told the audience. “We have a duty to action, and yet we are gridlocked in colossal global dysfunction.”
Protests Roil Tehran With Iran President in NY (8:27 a.m.)
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi is in New York for UNGA as protests roil the streets of Tehran following the death of a young woman who fell into a coma after being detained for flouting Islamic dress codes by the so-called “morality police.”
Mahsa Amini’s death has drawn widespread condemnation. The incident, which has sparked some of the biggest unrest in Iran since the November 2019 fuel protests, could overshadow Raisi’s visit and any efforts to break the latest deadlock in Tehran’s indirect talks with Washington to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Thousands of Iranian-Americans are planning to protest Raisi’s presence at the UN outside its headquarters.
Send More Weapons, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Asks (Earlier)
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged western nations to supply more weapons so his government can press ahead with its counteroffensive against Russian forces.
Kuleba said in an interview Monday with Bloomberg Television that Ukraine wants to add to its recent territorial gains and deny Russian President Vladimir Putin any strategic advantage gained since his army invaded on Feb. 24.
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