Ukraine live briefing: Zelensky and Biden to address U.N. General Assembly


September 19, 2023 at 2:27 a.m. EDT

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visits Staten Island University Hospital, where Ukrainian soldiers are being treated for war injuries, Monday. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is set to speak to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly session opening Tuesday, aiming to gather more support for his embattled country and to promote Ukrainian food security, defense and recovery initiatives. He is also expected to visit Capitol Hill later this week to persuade U.S. lawmakers to approve a new $24 billion assistance package to Ukraine.

President Biden will also speak at the meeting ahead of Zelensky, according to a published schedule of the annual meeting of world leaders. The two must win the hearts and minds of developing countries that have increasingly called for a negotiated settlement with Moscow because of the war’s toll on food and energy prices.

Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.

Zelensky is expected to use his United Nations appearance to emphasize how the Kremlin’s invasion violates the U.N.’s most sacred principle of sovereignty of borders during his first in-person visit to the international gathering since the start of the war. “He will put forward some very specific steps that the organization can take to fortify the principle of territorial integrity,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said in a statement. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are not scheduled to attend.

Zelensky’s first stop during his U.S. trip was to wounded Ukrainian troops rehabilitating in New York. “Thanks to the team of doctors who are helping our boys recover from their injuries,” Zelensky’s office said in a post on Telegram. Photos showed the Ukrainian leader shaking hands with injured soldiers.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will meet Zelensky this week, Reuters reported. McCarthy has been facing demands from the right-most flanks of his party to cut aid to Ukraine.

Ukraine’s cabinet dismissed Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar from her post, along with six other top officials in the Defense Ministry, according to an update Monday shared on Telegram. The announcement comes after Zelensky ousted defense chief Oleksii Reznikov this month, as the ministry grappled with corruption claims. Five deputy defense ministers were removed, along with State Secretary Kostyantyn Vashchenko. No reason was provided for the dismissals in Monday’s announcement.

Cities and regions across Ukraine reported another night of Russian attacks. Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Odessa and Khmelnytskyi oblast reported overnight strikes early Tuesday. In the western city of Lviv, officials reported a 26-year-old man was sent to the hospital after being found under the rubble of an industrial warehouse.

Explosions were reported in the center of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk on Monday, according to local media. Denis Pushilin, the pro-Kremlin leader of occupied Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, reported no casualties. Video footage shared on Telegram by the Ukrainian Pravda news site showed thick plumes of smoke rising above buildings in the area.

A Russian national who helped smuggle U.S.-sourced dual microelectronics that can be used for rifle scopes, night-vision goggles and thermal optics has been arrested, the Justice Department said in a news release. Maxim Marchenko, 51, is accused of operating shell companies in Hong Kong for this purpose, the department said.

Germany will prepare a new military and humanitarian assistance package for Ukraine worth about $427 million, according to German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius. Speaking to BILD, a German newspaper, the minister said the package will include ammunition, clothing and heat generators for the coming winter.

China’s Wang Yi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov discussed Ukraine, among other topics, during a meeting Monday in Moscow. The two compared notes and “coordinated positions” on where the two countries stand on regional and international issues of common concern, including Ukraine, according to a readout by China’s foreign ministry.

Whatever the fuss over Elon Musk, Starlink is utterly essential in Ukraine: The internet services provided by SpaceX, a company owned by billionaire Elon Musk, are critical to Ukrainian troops, Alex Horton and Serhii Korolchuk report. Losing Starlink, one Ukrainian soldier said, would force Ukraine to fall back on inferior alternatives such as radio. It could be done, he said, but it would require difficult trade-offs such as soldiers being forced to leave the relative safety of trenches to pass on information orally.

“If they stopped working at some point, it wouldn’t be the end of the world,” one Ukrainian deputy battalion commander said, “but it would significantly worsen our situation at the front, our effectiveness.”

Isabelle Khurshudyan and Lyric Li contributed to this report.


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