US, Iran to speak at the UN; Zelenskyy will appear from Ukraine

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Leaders from two of the world’s most-watched nations – US President Joe Biden and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi – will be among those to have their say on the second day of the first fully face-to-face meeting of the UN General Assembly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. .

But Wednesday’s biggest draw will likely be the only leader to be seen and heard, but not in the flesh: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskky, whose nation is at war with Russia.

The 193-member assembly voted last week to allow Zelenskyy to deliver a pre-recorded speech because of his ongoing need to deal with Russia’s invasion, making an exception to the requirement that all leaders speak in person. Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the annual meeting of world leaders.

Unsurprisingly, Ukraine has been the center of attention at the assembly, with leader after world leader condemning Russia for attacking a sovereign nation. The war, which has killed thousands, is driving up food prices around the world while driving up energy costs – a particularly worrying issue in winter. It also raised fears of a nuclear catastrophe at Europe’s biggest nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine, now occupied by Russia.

Leaders in many countries are trying to avert a wider conflict and restore peace to Europe. Diplomats, however, do not expect any breakthroughs this week at the United Nations, where some 150 leaders address each other and the world.

Biden’s speech on Wednesday is expected to have a heavy focus on the war in Ukraine, where the country’s troops in recent weeks have regained control of large swaths of territory near Kharkiv that were seized by Russian forces at the start of the war. of almost seven months. .

But even as Ukrainian forces rack up battlefield victories, much of Europe is feeling a painful rollback of economic sanctions imposed on Russia to punish Moscow for its invasion.

In the White House, there is also growing concern that Putin could escalate the conflict further after recent setbacks. Biden, in a CBS-TV “60 Minutes” interview that aired on Sunday, warned Putin that the deployment of nuclear or chemical weapons in Ukraine would result in a “consequential” response from the United States.

Biden’s visit to the UN also comes as his administration’s efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal appear to have stalled. The deal brokered by the Obama administration — and scrapped by Trump in 2018 — provided billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for Iran’s agreement to dismantle much of its nuclear program and open its facilities to international inspection.

Iran’s president said he has no plans to meet Biden on the sidelines of the UN event. Raisi called his first appearance at the United Nations as Iran’s leader an opportunity to explain to the world about the alleged “malice” that unspecified nations and world powers have towards Iran, but he did not elaborate further.

Iran has faced international criticism over the death of a woman detained by its morality police, which triggered days of protests, including clashes with security forces in the capital and other riots that claimed at least three lives.

The UN human rights office called for an investigation. The United States has called on Iran to end its “systemic persecution” of women. Italy also condemned his death.

Iranian officials dismissed the criticism as politically motivated and accused unnamed foreign countries of fomenting the unrest.


Pia Sarkar, a Philadelphia-based journalist for The Associated Press, is covering the UN General Assembly. Follow her on Twitter at and for more AP coverage of the UN General Assembly visit

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at

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