Warning that Russia’s imperial
ambitions threaten the globe, President Joe Biden stood at the United Nations
and denounced Moscow’s efforts to “erase” Ukraine from the map just hours after
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced an intent to dramatically escalate
Europe’s largest war in generations.
Biden addressed a sea of world
leaders on Wednesday but blamed just one man, the Russian president, for the
war that has rattled the world. He pledged unending solidarity with Ukraine and
urged other nations — friend or foe — to stand against Moscow.
“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,” Biden said. “Whoever you are, wherever
you live, whatever you believe, that should make your blood run cold.”
The president’s speech to the
U.N. General Assembly came against the backdrop of a rare national address by
Putin, who authorized mobilizing up to 300,000 reserves to the war effort while
also resurfacing his threat to use nuclear weapons if Russia is threatened.
Putin also gave his blessing to what U.S. officials declared a sham referendum
for Ukrainian territories seized by Moscow to vote to become part of Russia.
“The world should see these
outrageous acts for what they are,” Biden said. “Putin claims he had to act
because Russia was threatened. But no one threatened Russia.”
All along, Biden planned to
use his speech to denounce Putin and urge the West to hold together in
continued support of Kyiv. But Putin’s inflammatory rhetoric heightened his
call’s urgency, with fears growing that the Russian president would use some sort
of tactical nuclear device on the battlefield.