September 24, 2023

Zelensky Courts Nonaligned Nations At UN General Assembly


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will address the U.N. General Assembly in New York Tuesday in an effort to convince nonaligned nations on the sidelines of the conflict to back Kyiv over Russia.

The United States and Western allies have supported Kyiv from the moment Russia launched its invasion in early 2022. But rising powers such as Brazil and India and smaller, less affluent countries in Africa and Latin America have avoided throwing their full support behind Ukraine, despite Zelensky’s efforts to broaden the international coalition opposing Russia’s invasion.

“The [U.N. General Assembly] offers Zelensky a chance to spend a bit of time lobbying the non-Western countries that have tried to stay nonaligned in the war,” said Richard Gowan, the UN Director for the International Crisis Group.

Bringing more countries on board won’t be easy, however.

The U.S. and its allies have spent billions supporting Ukraine in an effort to stop Russia from expanding its sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. President Biden made a forceful case for continuing to back Ukraine in his annual address Tuesday to the U.N. General Assembly.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky attends the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) at U.N. headquarters on September 19, 2023 in New York City.
Adam Gray/Getty Images

But the calculus has been different for some developing countries in parts of Asia, Africa, and Latin America that have had to weigh the benefits of joining the U.S.-led international coalition backing Ukraine with the downsides of harming relations with Russia and China.

Some nonaligned nations like India that depend on Russian energy and military technology have expressed support for Ukraine in broad terms but haven’t condemned Moscow. Others in the Global South have pushed Ukraine to seek a negotiated settlement that would end the war and the strain it’s put on global food and energy prices.

“They need to hedge their bets,” Bruna Santos, the director of the Brazil Institute at the Wilson Center, said of countries that have remained neutral in the conflict. “That’s one of the reasons why we’ve seen that ambiguity so clearly.”

Brazil typifies the dilemma facing rising powers caught between the West and Russia. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has sought to strengthen ties with the United States. But Lula has also positioned Brazil as an advocate for the Global South and a leader of the BRICS bloc of countries that includes Russia and China.

“It’s not clear for Brazil what it wins by joining the West” and supporting Ukraine, Santos told Newsweek.

Lula is also hampered by the uncertainty surrounding the 2024 U.S. presidential race, Santos said. Former President Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner, and other GOP candidates have questioned giving Ukraine continued support, a sign American foreign policy would likely shift if Biden loses reelection.

“There’s not a lot of clarity about what the direction of U.S. foreign policy [will be] if Biden loses the election next year,” Santos said.

That uncertainty will complicate Zelensky’s task at the United Nations. Ukraine’s slow progress in its major counteroffensive this year will also factor into how nonaligned countries weigh their approach to Kyiv.

“Zelensky’s got to walk a pretty fine line” in making the case for more countries to back Ukraine, Gowan said. “The big question is will Zelensky have the right tone to win hearts and minds.”

Source link

Leave a Reply