By Jesse O’Neill

Sep. 19, 2023

New York Post


Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky called on world leaders to “act united to defeat the aggressor,” during a rousing speech at the United Nations in Manhattan Tuesday afternoon.

Zelensky, 45, framed Russia’s war on his country as an attack on the “international order” as he delivered an impassioned address in English to the General Assembly that lasted just over 15 minutes.

Clad in a trademark long-sleeved olive-covered polo shirt and sporting a beard, Zelensky warned that the “treacherous radiation threat” of nuclear war lingered without international intervention.

“Let unity decide everything openly,” Zelensky pleaded.

“While Russia is pushing the world to the final war, Ukraine is doing everything to ensure that after Russian aggression no one in the world will dare to attack any nation.”

“Weaponization must be restrained, war crimes must be punished, deported people must come back home and the occupier must return to their own land. We must be united,” he said, to spirited applause.

Zelensky had begun his speech slamming Russia for weaponizing food, energy and attacks on children against Ukraine.

“We know the names of tens of thousands of children kidnapped by Russia in the occupied territories of Ukraine and later deported.”

“The International Criminal Court issued international arrest warrants to [Russian President Vladmir] Putin for this crime. We are trying to get children back home but time goes by. What will happen to them?,” he asked.

“For the first time in modern history, we have a real chance to end the aggression on the terms of the nation that was attacked,” Zelensky said, pleading for international unity.

“And this is a real chance for every nation to have the same outcome if attacked,” he continued, as a Russian diplomat was pictured playing with his phone looking nonplussed.

Zelensky also made a pointed remark to Russian allies, claiming “evil can not be trusted,” and advising them to ask [apparently slain Russian warlord Yevgeny] “Prigozhin about Putin’s promises” — referencing the slain Wagner mercenary leader who was killed in a plane crash in August.

The embattled leader took the stage hours after President Biden, who also urged international unity against Russia’s offensive.

“I ask you this: If we abandon the core principles of the United States to appease an aggressor, can any member state in this body feel confident that they are protected?” Biden said in his Tuesday morning address.

“If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?”

Biden is the only head of the UN security council’s five permanent members to deliver an in-person address this year.

Putin and his informal ally, Chinese President Xi Jinping, did not attend the annual summit.

Washington, DC partners British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron, whose countries round out the Big Five, were also noticeably absent.

Zelensky, meanwhile, is set to attend a private pow-wow on Thursday with Biden at the White House and pay his second wartime visit to Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are divided on how to proceed on a proposed $24 billion military and humanitarian Ukraine aide package.

If approved, the US would have sent a total of $135 billion to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s unprovoked invasion in February of 2022, according to the Center for Strategic & International Studies non-profit think tank.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he would meet with Zelensky even as he remained skeptical of rubber-stamping additional support.

“Is Zelensky elected to Congress? Is he our president? I don’t think I have to commit anything and I think I have questions for him,” McCarthy told reporters Tuesday.

“Where’s the accountability on the money we’ve already spent?”

McCarthy’s comments came as some members of his caucus aligned with ex-President Donald Trump, pushing for a halt to Ukrainian aid.

The speaker has called for the bill to be debated on its own merits as a standalone measure, while Senate Democrats were looking to include the funds in a short term spending bill that will need to be passed to prevent a federal shutdown by the end of the month.