Biden warns U.N.: Putin’s attempt to ‘extinguish’ Ukraine should ‘make your blood run cold’

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.

White House aides made changes to the draft of the speech Wednesday morning before Biden left his midtown Manhattan hotel for the short drive to the United Nations complex overlooking the East River. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan reviewed the speech with Biden in the morning, adjusting and emphasizing certain lines, aides said.

The president did not mince words evoking Russia’s alleged war crimes — another mass grave was found in recent days, some of the corpses showing signs of torture — as he declared that Putin had become a global pariah.

“A permanent member of the United Nations Security Council invaded its neighbor, attempted to erase a sovereign state from the map,” Biden said. “Russia has shamelessly violated the core tenants of the United Nations charter.”

Putin’s bellicose pronouncements set off alarms in global capitals, but U.S. officials quickly signaled they believed Moscow’s change in strategy came from a position of weakness.

Putin had long resisted any sort of military mobilization for fears that a widespread effort to recruit more fighters could lead to protests and other domestic turmoil. But the stunning strength of Ukraine’s recent counteroffensive forced his hand, revealing that the Russian military was still suffering from manpower and morale issues and was in danger of losing more of the territory it has …read more