Blinken says UN must tell Putin to stop ‘reckless nuclear threats’ over Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday called on the United Nations to send a clear message to Russia’s Vladimir Putin demanding an end to his “reckless nuclear threats.”

Blinken, addressing a U.N. Security Council meeting, said Putin has “doubled down” on the conflict despite concerns from the international community about the months-long invasion of Ukraine.

“That President Putin picked this week, as most of the world gathers at the United Nations, to add fuel to the fire he started shows his utter contempt for the U.N. charter, for the general assembly and for this council,” Blinken said.

“The very international order that we have gathered here to uphold is being shredded before our eyes,” he continued. “We cannot, we will not allow President Putin to get away with it.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a high level meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the situation amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, Sept. 22, 2022.

ary Altaffer/AP

Putin on Wednesday announced a partial mobilization expected to conscript 300,000 Russian reservists to the fight after Ukraine recaptured parts of the Kharkiv region earlier this month, making a potential turning point in the conflict.

The Kremlin is also moving this week to hold “sham referendums” in Russian-backed regions of Ukraine for people to vote on whether to join Russia. Blinken urged all U.N. members to reject these referendums and declare that all Ukrainian territory will remain part of the Eastern European nation.

Blinken said Putin’s war was a distraction from other pressing global issues the security council should address, including climate change, famine and international health security.

Blinken’s Russian counterpart — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov — was not in the room when the secretary of state spoke.

Blinken also discussed the mass graves uncovered in the recently recaptured Izium, stating the actions of Russian forces in the northeastern city are not acts of rogue units but fit a “clear pattern.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a high level meeting of the United Nations Security Council on the situation amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, at the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. Headquarters in New York City, Sept. 22, 2022.

Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy implored world leaders to punish Russia in his virtual address to the U.N. General Assembly, in which he said Russia wants to prepare another offensive that would include “new Iziums.”

“Russia wants war,” Zelenskyy said. “It’s true. But Russia will not be able to stop the course of history. Mankind and the international law are stronger than one terrorist state. Russia will be forced to end this war.

Blinken’s remarks came one day after President Joe Biden, in his own address to the U.N. General Assembly, rebuked Putin for having “shamelessly violated the core tenants” of the group’s charter.

Biden called for the U.N. to continue supporting Ukraine as he announced a U.S. commitment of $2.9 billion in global food aid as the war has disrupted supply chains and increased prices.