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Five key takeaways from Joe Biden’s UNGA speech

In a wide-ranging UN address, the US President criticizes Russia and says Washington is not aiming for a “cold war” with Beijing.

Joe Biden has accused Russia of ending Ukraine’s right to exist as a nation and told the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) that Washington wanted the conflict to end on “just terms”.

In his second address to the UNGA as President of the United States on Wednesday, Biden stressed that Russia violated the UN charter when it invaded its neighbor earlier this year.

He also raised a variety of international issues, including the global need to tackle climate change and food insecurity.

Here’s a look at five key takeaways from Biden’s speech:

Biden began his remarks by condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine as an unjustified act of aggression.

“This war is about simply wiping out Ukraine’s right to exist as a state, and [Ukrainians’] Right to exist as a people,” Biden said. “Wherever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe in should make your blood run cold.”

Biden also dismissed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim that Russia was threatened by Ukraine’s bid to join NATO.

“The United States wants this war to end on just terms, terms that we have all advocated — that you cannot usurp a nation’s territory by force,” he said.

Biden’s comments came just hours after Putin announced a partial military mobilization on Wednesday and called up to 300,000 army reservists to duty in Ukraine.

Russia’s offensive has suffered major setbacks in recent weeks as Ukrainian forces – backed by US weapons – retook large areas in a rapid advance in the east of the country.

Biden called for reforms of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to make it more inclusive and better equipped to respond to global challenges.

He said the number of countries sitting on the 15-member body should be increased. Currently, the United Nations Security Council has five permanent members – China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States – and ten rotating states, elected for two-year terms.

“We have long supported permanent seats for countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean,” Biden said before the General Assembly.

Permanent members of the Council have veto power, which limits the Council’s ability to pass resolutions against them or their allies.

Though Washington has used its veto power dozens of times in the Security Council to shield Israel, a top US ally, from criticism for violating international law, Biden said Wednesday that vetoes should be used sparingly.

“Members of the UN Security Council, including the United States, should consistently uphold and defend the UN Charter and refrain from using the veto except in rare, exceptional situations to ensure the Council remains credible and effective,” Biden said .

Since taking office in early 2021, Biden has continued his predecessor Donald Trump’s approach of prioritizing competition with China in US foreign policy. But on Wednesday the US President said Washington wanted to avoid a confrontation with Beijing.

“Let me speak directly about competition between the United States and China as we deal with shifting geopolitical trends: The United States will behave as a sensible leader,” Biden said.

“We are not looking for conflict. We are not aiming for a cold war. We are not asking any nation to choose between the United States or any other partner.”

Biden has drawn Beijing’s ire for saying on various occasions that Washington would militarily defend Taiwan — a self-governing island that Beijing claims as its own — if China invaded.

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