By Steve Holland
NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will use his speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday to make a full-throated appeal for world leaders to stand with Ukraine against Russian invaders – and he hopes Republicans in Congress will take notice too.
Biden’s address at the annual gathering is the centerpiece event of his three-day visit to New York, which will include meetings with the heads of five Central Asian nations, and the leaders of Israel and Brazil.
Biden, a Democrat, has made rallying U.S. allies to support Ukraine a leading component of U.S. foreign policy, arguing the world must send a clear signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin that he will not be able to outlast the West.
“We rallied the world to support Ukraine and united NATO because I was convinced at the beginning that Putin was counting on NATO not being able to stick together and that would be enough” for victory, Biden said at an election campaign fundraiser in New York on Monday.
But Biden has faced criticism from some Republicans who want the United States to spend less money there. Former President Donald Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election, has argued he would seek a quick end to the war if he is elected again.
House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in Washington, has questioned whether the U.S. should keep sending billions in weaponry to Ukraine.
In his speech, Biden plans to argue that Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and occupation of territory is a violation of the founding UN Charter, a main principle of which is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, U.S. officials said.
“He will make a very full-throated defense of why supporting Ukraine really does matter, not just for our national security but for the maintenance of the UN Charter and the idea of sovereignty and territorial integrity and what all that means,” a senior administration official said.
Another administration official said Biden and U.S. officials would also focus on mobilizing resources for infrastructure and sustainable development and fighting climate change.
Solid majorities of Americans support providing weaponry to Ukraine to defend itself against Russia and believe that such aid demonstrates to China and other U.S. rivals a will to protect U.S. interests and allies, according to a Reuters/Ipsos survey in June.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is expected to visit Biden at the White House on Thursday and meet with some congressional leaders as well.
The United States is preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine to coincide with his visit, and has asked Congress to approve billions more in security assistance for the rest of the year.
“We have confidence that there will be bipartisan support for this. I think President Zelenskiy does as well,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.
After his speech, Biden will sit down with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to discuss world hotspots.
Later, he will attend a summit with the presidents of five Central Asian nations, a first. They are Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
On Wednesday, Biden will meet Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Lula, and join him in an event with labor leaders from Brazil and the United States.
Also on Wednesday, Biden will have his first face-to-face meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu since Netanyahu regained power last December.
Sullivan said they would discuss “a vision for a more stable and prosperous and integrated region, as well as to compare notes on effectively countering and deterring Iran.”
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Heather Timmons and Grant McCool)
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