1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

UN summit: Scholz wary of sham solutions to war in Ukraine

Published September 19, 2023last updated September 20, 2023

Olaf Scholz and Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Russia to end the war in Ukraine, while Secretary General Antonio Guterres said it was high time for global compromise. The latest on the UN General Assembly.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stands at a podium and speaks into two microphones
Image: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • World leaders gathered for the 78th UN General Assembly UN headquarters in New York
  • US President Joe Biden, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi were among those who delivered speeches Tuesday
  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attended the meeting in person
  • The meeting's opening coincided almost precisely with Azerbaijan sending troops into the contested ethnic-Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh
Skip next section Day 1 of the UN General Assembly ends
September 20, 2023

Day 1 of the UN General Assembly ends

Day 1 of the UN General Assembly has come to a close after 37 speeches that spanned across nearly 13 hours. The General Debate ends on September 26.

Skip next section Peace without justice is dictatorship, says Germany's Scholz
September 20, 2023

Peace without justice is dictatorship, says Germany's Scholz

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned of "phony solutions" in the search for peace in Ukraine during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

"For peace without freedom is called oppression. Peace without justice is called dictatorship. Moscow must finally understand that," Scholz said, calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war.

Ukrainians were "fighting for their lives and their freedom for the independence and territorial integrity of their country, for the preservation of the very principles to which we all committed ourselves in the UN Charter," Scholz said.

"And it is Russia's president who can end it (the war) at any time with a single order," he added.

Scholz backed Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' comments about the need for reform of the UN Security Council.

Scholz said the UN must "reflect the reality of a multipolar world" and that has not been the case so far. "Nowhere is this more obvious than in the composition of the Security Council." 

The German leader said that human-induced climate change was the greatest global challenge of our times. He added Germany was fulfilling its pledges on international climate financing.

"From €2 billion in 2014 to €4 billion in 2020, we tripled our contribution last year to €6 billion. This means we are keeping our word," Scholz said.

Skip next section Algeria, Nigeria leaders address coup in Niger
September 20, 2023

Algeria, Nigeria leaders address coup in Niger

Nigerian President Bola Tinubuwho is attending his first UN General Assembly as president, said he was seeking to re-establish constitutional order in Niger following the coup.

The coup in July toppled the  West African country's democratically elected president Mohamed Bazoum.

Tinabu said the many coups across Africa since 2020 "does not demonstrate favor towards coup" on the continent. It was "a demand for solution to perennial problems." He said he was negotiating with Niger's military leaders.

As chairman of West Africa's regional bloc ECOWAS, Tinubu said he seeks "to re- establish democratic governance in a manner that addresses the political and economic challenges confronting that nation, including the violent extremists who seek to foment instability in our region."

Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune also used his speech to demand a return to democracy in Niger. Any attempt at that must be done through political means, Tebboune said.

He warned of "dangerous repercussions on peace and stability" in the region if the threat of force is carried out. "We call for vigilance given the intentions of foreign military intervention."

Explainer: What is the ECOWAS?

Skip next section Iran accuses US of fanning the 'flames of violence' in Ukraine
September 20, 2023

Iran accuses US of fanning the 'flames of violence' in Ukraine

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has accused the US of fanning the "flames of violence in Ukraine in order to weaken the European countries."

"This is a long-term plan, unfortunately," Raisi said. His comments come a day after the US and Iran agreed to a high-stakes prisoner swap.

Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the UN General Assembly
Iran’s President Ebrahim Raisi addresses the UN General AssemblyImage: Seth Wenig/AP/dpa/picture alliance

Raisi insisted that Iran was neutral in the war in Ukraine, saying: "We support any initiative for a cessation of hostilities and the war."

The US accuses Iran of supplying Russia with drones used to bomb Ukrainian civilians as the Kremlin continues its invasion of Ukraine.

Iran has said it supplied a "small number" of drones to Russia before the invasion of Ukraine but has denied providing any more since troops crossed the border last February.

Skip next section Zelenskyy says Russia starts new war each decade
September 19, 2023

Zelenskyy says Russia starts new war each decade

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says Russia has followed a pattern of starting a new war each decade, citing Georgia, Moldova, and the rather more dubious example of Syria.

"When hatred is weaponized against one nation it never stops there," the Ukrainian leader said. "Each decade, Russia starts a new war."

"Parts of Georgia and Moldova remain occupied. Russia tore Syria into ruins," he said, claiming that chemical weapons would never have been used in the Middle Eastern country's civil war if it had not been for Russia. 

"Russia has almost swallowed Belarus. It is obviously threatening Kazakhstan and now the Baltic States."

"And the goal of the present war against Ukraine is to turn our land, our people, our lives, our resources into a weapon against you. Against the international rules-based order," said Zelenskyy.

"Many seats in the General Assembly hall may become empty. Empty, if Russia succeeds with its treachery and aggression."

Skip next section Ukraine's Zelenskyy says Russia using 'weaponization' against world
September 19, 2023

Ukraine's Zelenskyy says Russia using 'weaponization' against world

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that as well as Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Moscow was also trying to "weaponize" things like the global food and energy supply to create broader disruption.

"The aggressor is weaponizing many other things and those things are used not only against our country but against all of yours as well." 

"There are many conventions that restrict weapons but there are no real restrictions on weaponization."

"Since the start of the full-scale war, the Ukrainian ports in Black Sea and the Azov Sea have been blocked by Russia. Until now, our ports on the Danube River remain the target for missiles and drones."

"It is clearly Russia's attempt to weaponize the food shortage on the global market in exchange for the recognition for some, if not all of the captured territories."

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses the 78th Session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City
Zelenskyy said children, energy and food were among the things that Moscow had weaponizedImage: Brendan McDermid/REUTERS

"Russia is launching food prices as weapons. The impact spans from the Atlantic Coast of Africa to southeast Asia."

The Ukrainian leader took a sideswipe at European neighbors such as Poland that have banned imports of Ukrainian grains, saying they were helping Russia.

Zelenskyy also highlighted the weaponizing of energy such as oil and gas to Europe, and said Russia was using nuclear power plants as potential "dirty bombs."

Children were also being weaponized, said Zelenskyy.  "We know the names of tens of thousands of children" who had been deported, he said. 

"What will happen to them? Those children in Russia are taught to hate Ukraine and all ties with their families are broken and this is clearly a genocide."

At the beginning of his speech, Zelenskyy also lamented the fact that Russia had retained nuclear weapons at the end of the Cold War while his country had given them up.

"The world then decided Russia should become a keeper of such power, yet history shows it was Russia who deserved nuclear disarmament the most back in the 1990s, and Russia deserves it now."

"Terrorists have no right to hold nuclear weapons. No right." 

Skip next section South Africa's president says lesson learned from apartheid
September 19, 2023

South Africa's president says lesson learned from apartheid

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa says his country's own experience from the end of the apartheid era had informed its efforts to seek peace in Ukraine as part of the African Peace Initiative.

"From the experience of our own journey from apartheid to democracy, we value the importance of engaging all parties to conflicts to achieve peaceful, just and enduring resolutions," Ramaphosa said. 

"It is these principles that inform South Africa’s participation in the African Peace Initiative, which seeks a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. "

Ramaphosa said urgency was needed to end the conflict for those most directly affected by it, as well as the millions of others who "are now vulnerable to worsening hunger and deprivation."

Similarly to Turkey's Erdogan, Ramaphosa and South Africa's push for talks has sometimes met a frosty reception among NATO governments.

Skip next section Turkish leader defends Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh
September 19, 2023

Turkish leader defends Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan described Azerbaijan's  military operation in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region as "steps to preserve its territorial integrity."

Addressing the UN General Assembly, Erdogan said majority-Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh was part of Azerbaijan's sovereign territory and that any other status for the breakaway region was unacceptable.

"We are moving together with Azerbaijan under the slogan, under the motto that we are two nations, one state," he said.

"Everybody had the right to coexist on Azerbaijan's soil, including the Armenians and that should be our primary goal."

Armenia and Turkey have never established formal diplomatic relations and their shared border has been closed since the 1990s, although relations have shown signs of improvement in recent years. 

Skip next section Turkey's Erdogan says will increase Ukraine peace efforts
September 19, 2023

Turkey's Erdogan says will increase Ukraine peace efforts

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has sought to position himself as a mediator between Russia and Ukraine, says his country will step up diplomatic efforts to end the war in Ukraine.

"We have been endeavoring to keep both our Russian and Ukrainian friends around the table with a thesis that war will have no winners and peace will have no losers," Erdogan said in a speech to the General Assembly.

"We will step up our efforts to end the war through diplomacy and dialogue on the basis of Ukraine's independence and territorial integrity."

Since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Erdogan has tried to maintain good relations with both Moscow and Kyiv.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the 78th United Nations General Assembly
The Turkish president has tried to keep friendly relations with both Ukraine and Russia Image: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

He is said to have fostered a close rapport with fellow authoritarian Vladimir Putin, particularly after the Russian president was the first major world leader to offer him support him after a failed coup in 2016. However, at the same time, Turkey has also supported Ukraine, meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and saying it will back Kyiv's bid to join the Western alliance.

In addition to wider peace efforts, Erdogan has said he is not "hopeless" about reviving a deal with Russia that allowed Ukraine to export grain via the Black Sea, and says Russia, Ukraine, and Turkey will continue to discuss it. The agreement was brokered last year by Turkey and the United Nations.

Skip next section Poland's Duda warns against 'frozen war' in Ukraine
September 19, 2023

Poland's Duda warns against 'frozen war' in Ukraine

Polish President Andrzej Duda has called for the conflict in Ukraine to be ended by pushing Russia out of the country, fully beyond Ukraine's internationally recognized borders.

"This brutal war must end, and not be converted into a frozen war," Duda said. "This can only be done by restoring the full territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders."

"Poland's position in the face of any war is clear and straightforward. We demand absolute respect for internationally recognized borders."

"The inviolability of these borders is a fundamental element of the world order. Today the victim is Ukraine. Tomorrow, it could be any one of us if we do not follow these ironclad rules; If we do not insistently enforce compliance with international law."

After his speech, Duda told reporters that Ukraine should remember that it receives help from Poland amid a deepening row between the countries over agricultural imports.

"It would be good for Ukraine to remember that it receives help from us and to remember that we are also a transit country to Ukraine," Duda, from Poland's ruling nationalist Law and Justice party, said.

Skip next section Biden urges leaders to 'stand up to naked aggression' in Ukraine
September 19, 2023

Biden urges leaders to 'stand up to naked aggression' in Ukraine

"For the second year in a row, this gathering that is dedicated to the peaceful resolution of conflicts is darkened by the shadow of war," US President Joe Biden told world leaders at the UN General Assembly meeting.

"We strongly support Ukraine in its efforts to bring about a diplomatic resolution that delivers a just and lasting peace," he said, referring to Ukraine's offer of negotiations with Russia, albeit only after a full military withdrawal. 

"Russia alone bears responsibility for this war," Biden said.

"If we allow Ukraine to be carved up, is the independence of any nation secure?" he asked, urging the assembly to "stand up to this naked aggression today to deter would-be aggressors tomorrow."

"That's why the United States, together with our allies and partners around the world, will continue to stand with the brave people of Ukraine as they defend their sovereignty, their territorial integrity, and their freedom," the US president said, to a round of applause from the assembly, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who was present.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, applauding US President Joe Biden's speech at the UN General Assembly
Biden's pledge for continued support for Ukraine was met with applause from the assemblyImage: Susan Walsh/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section US President Biden addresses the General Assembly
September 19, 2023

US President Biden addresses the General Assembly

US President Joe Biden took to the stand at the UN General Assembly. He is the only permanent Security Council member leader present for the debate.

"We're gathered once more at an inflection point of history," he told the assembly.

He called on world leaders to work together for a "common vision of the future of the world, where our children do not go hungry, and everyone has access to quality healthcare. Where workers are empowered and our environment is protected. Where entrepreneurs and innovators everywhere can access opportunities everywhere. Where conflicts are resolved peacefully, where countries can chart their own course."

"We know our future is bound to yours," he emphasized.

He expressed Washington's commitment to the UN, but also called for the modernization of its institutions, including repeating his call to expand the permanent and non-permanent members of the Security Council.

The US president also brought up several of the challenges facing the world, including climate change, the drug trade and AI.

"It's going to take all of us," Biden told world leaders, referring to how to deal with the "opportunities" and "perils" posed by artificial intelligence.

He also discussed the threats to democracy, highlighting the recent slew of coups in Western Africa that have toppled democratically elected governments.

"When it comes to China, I want to be clear and consistent," Biden continued. "We seek to responsibly manage the competition between our countries so it does not tip into conflict."

He said the US would push back "on aggression and intimidation" but "we also stand ready to work together with China on issues where progress hinges on our common efforts."

"Nowhere is that more critical on decelerating the climate crisis," he said. "We see it everywhere, record-breaking heatwaves in the United States and China, wildfires ravaging North America and Southern Europe, the fifth year of drought in the Horn of Africa, tragic flooding in Libya."

"Together these snapshots tell an urgent story of what awaits us if we fail to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels," he said.

Skip next section 'Brazil is back' Lula tells assembly
September 19, 2023

'Brazil is back' Lula tells assembly

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was the first world leader to speak to the assembly.

He attacked global inequality and the fact that many of the world's poor are currently going hungry. "The world is increasingly unequal. The world's 10 richest billionaires have more wealth than the poorest 40% of humanity," he said.

But he celebrated Brazil's democratic principles, saying that "Brazil is back," a core message of his presidency following the end of his predecessor Jair Bolsonaro's time in office.

"Democracy ensured that we overcame hate, misinformation and oppression," he said of his election victory.

He also called for talks for peace to end the war in Ukraine, saying "no solution will be lasting if it is not based on dialogue."

Skip next section UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opens General Assembly session
September 19, 2023

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opens General Assembly session

"Just nine days ago many of the world's challenges coalesced in an awful hellscape, thousands of people in Derna, Libya, lost their lives in epic unprecedented flooding," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said to open the assembly, pointing to the issues of conflict, climate change, inequality and governance all coming together.

"Our world is becoming unhinged. Geopolitical tensions are rising. Global challenges are mounting. And we seem incapable of coming together to respond," the UN chief said, which he said required the modernization of global institutions.

"The world has changed. Our institutions have not."

"Democracy is under threat, authoritarianism is on the march," he continued and called for "compromise" to deal with the multiple challenges the world is facing.

Guterres also highlighted Russia's invasion of Ukraine as an example of countries violating the UN charter and the consequences that it has for the world. "I will not give up on my on efforts" to restart the Black Sea grain deal, he said.

Guterres urged world leaders to work together to tackle the major challenges including climate change, conflict, the possible threats of technology and AI, women's rights, and uneven development.

Skip next section What is planned for today?
September 19, 2023

What is planned for today?

Several world leaders are expected to speak on Monday, as well as UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who will be kicking off the speeches, is expected to try to position Brazil as a leader of the Global South, in an effort to counterbalance the dominance of China and the US.

US President Joe Biden is also speaking today, as well as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.

Before the summit kicked off, Guterres stressed the importance of addressing the worsening climate emergency as well as the escalating conflicts worldwide.

"People are looking to their leaders for a way out of this mess," Guterres said. He warned that despite all the challenges, "geopolitical divisions are undermining our capacity to respond."

UN warns world off track to meeting development goals

Show more posts