On Tuesday, September 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the UN General Assembly. The coronavirus pandemic prevented the Russian leader from travelling to the United States, and his pre-recorded video speech was sent to New York. As his press secretary Dmitry Peskov noted yesterday, "this year the overwhelming majority of heads of state will be addressing this way." So was it at the current 75th session of the UN General Assembly due on September 22 to 29.
With regard to the session's milestone nature, the Russian national delegation is traditionally led by the head of state. It bears reminding that in the fall of 2015, at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, Vladimir Putin was among the top ten speakers. This time, his performance was seventh in a row. Before him there were speeches delivered by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, US President Donald Trump, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Chinese President Xi Jinping, as well as Chilean and Cuban leaders Sebastian Piñera and Miguel Diaz-Canel. A combined total of 121 heads of state, 54 heads of government, one vice-president, 16 foreign ministers, one deputy prime minister and two charge d'affaires are expected to address the general debate this time.
At the very beginning of his 15-minute speech, Vladimir Putin noted that "the international community celebrates two, without exaggeration, historic anniversaries: the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and establishment of the United Nations." All of this, according to the President, made it possible to create a new world order. "It was built on the ultimate foundation of the UN Charter that remains the main source of international law to this day," he said. At the same time, the Russian leader urged that the permanent members of the Security Council retain their veto power in the UN Security Council. According to him, "such a right pertaining to the five nuclear powers, the victors of the Second World War, remains indicative of the actual military and political balance."
In his video message, Vladimir Putin once again condemned attempts to rewrite history. In his opinion, politicized attempts to arbitrarily interpret the history of World War II are blow to the very foundation of the post-war world order, "which is particularly dangerous in view of the global stability facing serious challenges, the arms control system breaking down, regional conflicts continuing unabated, and threats posed by terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking intensifying."
As expected, President Putin could not ignore the coronavirus-caused global challenge in his speech. Having developed the world's first vaccine against COVID-19, "Sputnik-V", Russia is ready to provide it free of charge to the UN staff. Note the fact that in this part of his speech, the head of state did not try to look for guilty parties as regards the worldwide spread of coronavirus, unlike US President Donald Trump who blamed China, but wrote a story straight.
Putin particularly believes the coronavirus will make the process of restoring the global economy a long one. In his opinion, this requires innovative decisions. He hopes that world trade will become free of illegitimate sanctions, barriers, bans and restrictions, which would be of great help in revitalizing global growth and reducing unemployment. Putin cited expert opinions that a complete or partial reduction in global employment in the second quarter of 2020 equals to the loss of 400 million jobs.
Moreover, President Putin drew attention to the need of extending the Russia-US Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-3), which expires in February 2021. He also said Russia expects mutual restraint with regard to deploying new missile systems: "For all the disputes and differences, at times misunderstanding and even distrust on the part of some colleagues, we will consistently advance constructive, uniting initiatives, first of all in arms control and strengthening the treaty regimes existing in this area. This includes the prohibition of chemical, biological and toxin weapons."
The Russian leader noted that 2019 saw Moscow declare a moratorium on deploying ground-launched medium and short-range missiles in Europe and other regions of the world as long as the United States refrains from such actions. "Unfortunately, we have not received any reaction to our proposal from either our US partners or their allies", the President emphasized. Russia, according to Putin, is "putting forward an initiative to sign a binding agreement between all the leading space powers that would provide for the prohibition of the placement of weapons in outer space, threat or use of force against outer space objects."
"I wish all the peoples of our planet peace and well-being," Vladimir Putin closed his speech.
We note finally that apart from Vladimir Putin, the official Russian delegation to the UN General Assembly in New York includes Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Senator Konstantin Kosachev, State Duma Deputy Leonid Slutsky, presidential aide Yuri Ushakov, and others. After the President of Russia withdraws from the delegation after his video message, Sergey Lavrov will take over the duties of the delegation leader.