Zelenskiy to Address UNGA in Person, Seeks Support for Ukraine
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is set to make an in-person address at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. This marks his first appearance since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.
President Zelenskiy emphasised the significance of his presence at the United Nations during a visit to the Staten Island University Hospital on Monday.
During his visit to the hospital, President Zelenskiy took the opportunity to award medals to wounded soldiers and select hospital staff. He expressed gratitude for their continued efforts and sacrifices.
In 2022, unable to attend in person due to the ongoing conflict, President Zelenskiy delivered a pre-recorded speech to the UN General Assembly. He expressed Ukraine’s desire to reclaim its entire territory, and mentioned the potential use of force, but also stressed the importance of patience in resolving the crisis.
President Zelenskiy’s schedule in New York includes participation in a UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine, scheduled for Wednesday. However, there is uncertainty surrounding whether he will remain seated at the horseshoe-shaped table of the 15-member body if Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, takes the floor.
Zelenskiy expressed doubts about the appropriateness of providing a platform for Russian officials amid the ongoing conflict. He questioned whether there is a place for Russian terrorists within the United Nations, suggesting that it is a matter to be deliberated upon by all UN member states.
President Zelenskiy is expected to make an appeal to the international community, with a particular focus on Washington, for ongoing support in countering Russia’s invasion. The invasion has persisted for nearly 19 months. Ukraine’s Western allies have already provided critical aid, including weapons and humanitarian assistance, and discussions are ongoing in the US Congress regarding President Joe Biden’s request for up to $24 billion in additional support for Ukraine. However, this request has sparked a growing divide among US lawmakers.
Recent developments on the ground have seen Ukraine achieve significant victories, with the retaking of the strategically important village of Klishchiivka marking the country’s second notable counteroffensive success in just three days. President Zelenskiy praised the soldiers in a video address, commending their courageous efforts in reclaiming Ukrainian territory in the Bakhmut area.
Russian UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia has characterised the upcoming Security Council meeting, convened by Albania as the president for September, as nothing more than a “big show.”
In another development, the office of the Brazilian presidency announced that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is scheduled to meet with President Zelenskiy in New York on Wednesday. President Lula da Silva has previously proposed the formation of a group of nations to mediate an end to the war between Russia and Ukraine. However, in May, he made statements suggesting that both Moscow and Kyiv shared blame for the conflict, which caused frustration among the United States and European countries supporting Ukrainian resistance to the Russian invasion.
Zelenskiy aims to persuade President Lula that the ongoing war in Ukraine should not impede progress for the world’s impoverished populations and that Ukraine’s fate is a matter of global concern, extending well beyond the borders of Europe.
The two leaders have not met in person before. However, they did hold a video call in March. This conversation took place shortly after Brazil voted in favour of a UN resolution calling for peace and urging Moscow to withdraw its troops from Ukraine, signalling Brazil’s interest in contributing to the resolution of the conflict.
The meeting between Presidents Zelenskiy and Lula was specifically requested by the Ukrainian government, given their inability to connect during the G7 summit in Hiroshima earlier this year.
President Zelenskiy’s diplomatic tour of the United States also includes a visit to the White House, where he is scheduled to meet with President Joe Biden on Thursday. During his stay in Washington, the Ukrainian leader plans to engage with congressional leaders from both political parties. Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has confirmed his intention to meet with President Zelenskiy this week, highlighting the bipartisan support for Ukraine in the United States.
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