Zelensky arrived in New York on Monday to address the United Nations General Assembly and plead for more aid as Ukraine painfully pushes ahead with a high-stakes counteroffensive to wrest back territory from Russian forces more than 18 months into the war. He is expected to use his speech at the famous rostrum to seek condemnation of Russia for its ongoing invasion, which began in February 2022. But he is also set to meet leaders with differing views including Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who has previously said that Ukraine shared blame for the war and faulted the billions of dollars in military aid to Kyiv. Read our live blog for all the latest developments on the war. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).
03:00am: Heading for UN, Ukraine’s president questions why Russia still has a place there
Days before potentially crossing paths with Russia’s top diplomat at the United Nations, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky suggested Monday that the world body needs to answer for allowing his country’s invader a seat at the tables of power.
“For us, it’s very important that all our words, all our messages, will be heard by our partners. And if in the United Nations still — it’s a pity, but still — there is a place for Russian terrorists, the question is not to me. I think it’s a question to all the members of the United Nations,” Zelensky said after visiting wounded Ukrainian military members at a New York hospital.
Zelensky is due to address world leaders at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday and speak Wednesday at a UN Security Council meeting about Ukraine. Russia is a permanent, veto-wielding member of the council, and Foreign Minister Minister Sergey Lavrov is expected to make remarks.
Asked whether he’d stay in the room to listen, Zelensky said, “I don’t know how it will be, really.”
02:30am: ‘Stay strong’: Zelensky visits wounded Ukrainian soldiers in New York
Before meeting world leaders, Zelensky headed to Staten Island University Hospital, where a group of Ukrainian soldiers are receiving prosthetic arms and legs and rehabilitation services.
In a large hospital room, the Ukrainian president watched as several soldiers in khaki uniform practiced walking and lifting weights with newly acquired prosthetic legs and arms.
Zelensky chatted with the soldiers and shook their hands — if they had them.
Even as he tried to lift the soldiers’ spirits, the Ukrainian leader was visibly shaken.
“Is it tough?” Zelensky asked one soldier.
“A little,” came the reply.
02:02am: Iran’s president denies sending drones to Russia and decries US meddling
Iran’s president on Monday denied his country had sent drones to Russia for use in the war in Ukraine, even as the United States accuses Iran of not only providing the weapons but helping Russia build a plant to manufacture them.
“We are against the war in Ukraine,” President Ebrahim Raisi said as he met with media executives on the sidelines of the world’s premier global conference, the high-level leaders’ meeting at the UN General Assembly.
The Iranian leader spoke just hours after five Americans who had been held in Iranian custody arrived in Qatar, freed in a deal that saw President Joe Biden agree to unlock nearly $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets.
Raisi acknowledged that Iran and Russia have long had strong ties, including defense cooperation. But he denied sending weapons to Moscow since the war began. “If they have a document that Iran gave weapons or drones to the Russians after the war,” he said, then they should produce it.
Iranian officials have made a series of contradictory comments about the drones.
US and European officials say the sheer number of Iranian drones being used in the war in Ukraine shows that the flow of such weapons has not only continued but intensified after hostilities began.
Despite his remarks about trust, Raisi’s tone toward the United States wasn’t all conciliatory; he had harsh words at other moments.
Raisi said his country “sought good relations with all neighboring countries” in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Key developments from Monday, September 18:
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in New York on Monday ahead of his address to the UN General Assembly and a scheduled meeting with US President Joe Biden.
Ukraine plans to sue Poland, Hungary and Slovakia over their bans on Ukrainian agricultural products, Politico quoted Ukrainian Trade Representative Taras Kachka as saying in an interview published on Monday.
The rights situation inside Russia has substantially worsened since Moscow launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, a top UN expert said Monday, decrying a “systematic crackdown” on civil society.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, Reuters and AP)