UNITED NATIONS — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday condemned Russia’s “vacillating and failing” president, joining a chorus of global outrage aimed at what he described as Vladimir Putin’s panicked escalation of a war that is escalating. collapsed in Ukraine.
Trudeau was wrapping up two days at the United Nations as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, addressing the General Assembly via video, pleaded with the international body to punish and isolate his country’s executioner.
The seven-month war dominated discussions at the UN during the prime minister’s visit, overshadowing an agenda heavily focused on Trudeau’s traditional priorities like climate change, biodiversity and international development.
This was even more the case on Wednesday after Putin announced plans for the largest mobilization of reservists in Russia since World War II and issued ominous warnings about the use of nuclear weapons.
For Trudeau, all of this was proof of an abject and growing failure.
“Putin got it wrong and he is failing and hesitating in his response to the situation,” he told a late-day news conference.
The decision to impose ‘partial conscription’ is proof of something Putin never wanted to admit to his own people, Trudeau said: that the war ‘is an example of things not going according to his plan’ .
Trudeau has pledged to maintain ever-tighter economic sanctions against Russia, help train Ukraine’s military, and maintain the flow of aid and humanitarian assistance — ammunition is a specific request, he said. he noted – but gave few details on what else might be in the cards.
He highlighted Canada’s expertise in exporting and shipping grain around the world, a particular challenge given Ukraine’s role as a leading global source. This particular pressure has recently eased following a UN effort, aided by Turkey, to get Ukrainian grain past Russian blockades.
Trudeau called Putin’s nuclear slashing – ‘It’s not a bluff,’ Putin said as he threatened to use any means at his disposal to prevail in the conflict – ‘absolutely unacceptable’ and too serious to ignore.
These threats, Trudeau said, “we have to take them seriously, but we also have to oppose them very strongly.”
Just before Trudeau’s press conference, Zelenskyy himself addressed the General Assembly via video – a rare exception to UN rules that leadership-level speeches must be delivered in person.
Zelenskyy urged delegates to strip Russia, a founding member of the UN, of its right to vote in international institutions, as well as its coveted veto in the UN Security Council.
Ukrainian soldiers “can return the Ukrainian flag throughout our territory. We can do it by force of arms,” he said. “But we need time.”
Earlier on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden brought his bully pulpit to the iconic Assembly Hall rostrum, saying Putin had “shamelessly violated the fundamental principles of the UN charter”.
“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…it should chill your blood.”
The Russia-Ukraine dynamic has largely usurped much of what Trudeau spent two days announcing and discussing in New York, including a landmark $1.21 billion announcement for the Global Fund, a 20-year-old effort. years to eradicate treatable infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS. , tuberculosis and malaria in the developing world.
“We live in dark and stormy times where things can look so dark,” Trudeau told the crowd, many of whom swarmed him for small talk and selfies during a break in the proceedings.
“But when I look at what we’ve done together in the face of diseases like HIV/AIDS, which for decades have ravaged communities, what I see is hope. What I see is is proof that our institutions can work well.”
There was also an additional $100 million for measures designed to help those efforts avoid being crippled by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis that Trudeau, when asked, would not say widely had. followed its course.
There was $20 million in post-earthquake reconstruction aid for Haiti, where rampaging gang violence has crippled the country and largely subdued a caretaker government.
And there has been a strenuous effort to ensure that climate change remains high on the agenda despite what Bob Rae, Canada’s ambassador to the UN, called a “cascade of crises” competing for attention and help.
That effort has been largely successful, even in Europe, where war from Russia poses a constant threat, Environment and Climate Change Minister Steven Guilbeault said Wednesday.
“They want to produce 25% of their electricity from rooftop solar panels by 2030. It’s amazing,” he said.
“They are investing more and more. And Canada has said we will help Europe in any way we can while continuing our fight against climate change.”
Biden, he added, recently signed his Cut Inflation Act, which includes some $369 billion in funding for climate initiatives, the largest such investment in US history. United.
“I don’t think climate change is on the back burner,” he said.
“We live in a time when, regardless of what is happening on the international scene, environmental issues like climate change and biodiversity loss have become international priorities.”
Rae said Tuesday he recently traveled to Haiti to see the chaos for himself. The gangs even took over the courthouse in the capital, Port-au-Prince, he said.
“We’re not going to declare…we have a magic bullet. That’s not how it works,” Rae said.
“We will try to play as constructive a role as possible. We all know it will take more.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 21, 2022.
— With files from the Associated Press
James McCarten, The Canadian Press