Biden Renews Support for Ukraine At The UN, Drawing Contrast With Trump Wing of GOP

Biden again blamed Russia for its "illegal war of conquest" against Ukraine, even as numerous Republicans say U.S. support for the country should end.
President Joe Biden addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 19.
President Joe Biden addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 19.
Susan Walsh/Associated Press

President Joe Biden for the second year in a row denounced the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday and renewed his promise of continued United States support for the embattled country.

“If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure? I would respectfully suggest the answer is ‘no,’” he said in a 27-minute speech to the body at its annual meeting in New York City. “We have to stand up to this naked aggression today and deter other would-be aggressors tomorrow.”

Biden said he supports peace efforts, but not on the terms that Russia wants.

“Russia alone bears responsibility for this war. Russia alone has the power to end this war immediately. And it’s Russia alone that stands in the way of peace because the Russians’ price for peace is Ukraine’s capitulation, Ukraine’s territory and Ukraine’s children,” Biden said. “The United States together with our allies and partners around the world will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty and territorial integrity and their freedom.”

Biden’s backing of Ukraine, in the context of generally protecting democracies around the world and with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the audience, also provided a sharp contrast with the ascendant wing of the Republican Party, led by coup-attempting former President Donald Trump.

In the days following Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s incursion into Ukraine in early 2022, Trump called the move “genius.” More recently, Trump said he would end the war “in 24 hours” if he is elected to the White House again, although he has not said how he would accomplish that.

Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who has fashioned himself as a Trump acolyte as he runs for the GOP nomination, has said he would end the war by forcing Ukraine to concede some of the territory Russia has taken and would promise never to allow Ukraine into NATO.

A large number of Republicans in the House have echoed similar sentiments, and additional military aid to Ukraine is certain to be a flashpoint as Congress works to pass government spending bills before the end of the budget year on Sept. 30. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has been a strong advocate of aid to Ukraine as a way to weaken Russia’s military without putting U.S. troops at risk.

Other GOP candidates running for their party’s nomination have also backed continued support for Ukraine as important to American interests, although they have paired that with criticism of Biden’s handling of the matter.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for example, says Biden has from the start given Ukraine just enough arms to “not lose,” and that he, in contrast, would provide everything Ukraine needs to win. And former Vice President Mike Pence has criticized Biden for failing to explain to the American people why backing Ukraine was the right thing to do.

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