Biden rebukes Russia at UN General Assembly over war in Ukraine; Gridlock Alert continues

The traffic zone to watch out for is East 42nd Street up to 57th Street, between 1st and 5th avenues.

WABC logo
Wednesday, September 21, 2022 10:26PM
EMBED <>More Videos

At the U.N. General Assembly, all eyes will be on President Joe Biden, who is set to speak Wednesday morning. N.J. Burkett has the story.

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- World leaders have descended on New York for the U.N. General Assembly amid a Gridlock Alert for New York City motorists - and all eyes were on President Joe Biden Wednesday.

Biden delivered a powerful rebuke of Russia's war on Ukraine, hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization of hundreds of thousands of reservists.

The president said Russia has "shamelessly violated the core tenets" of the United Nations charter with its "brutal, needless war" in Ukraine.

Delivering a forceful condemnation of Russia's invasion to the international body, Biden said reports of Russian abuses against civilians in Ukraine "should make your blood run cold."

For New Yorkers, the massive international presence at the United Nations means traffic restrictions remain in effect through the rest of the week. Full details on the street closures are listed below.

He also said Putin's new nuclear threats against Europe showed "reckless disregard" for his nation's responsibilities as a signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

"We will stand in solidarity against Russia's aggression, period," he said.

Biden also highlighted consequences of the invasion for the world's food supply, pledging $2.9 billion in global food security aid to address shortages caused by the war and the effects of climate change. He praised a U.N.-brokered effort to create a corridor for Ukrainian grain to be exported by sea, and called on the agreement to be continued despite the ongoing conflict.

Biden, during his time at the U.N. General Assembly, met with Secretary General António Guterres, before his first meeting with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss and a separate huddle with French President Emmanuel Macron.

He was also expected to press nations to meet an $18 billion target to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, reiterating the U.S. commitment of $6 billion to that goal.

But the heart of the president's visit to the U.N. this year was his full-throated censure of Russia as its war nears the seven-month mark. One of Russia's deputy U.N. ambassadors, Gennady Kuzmin, was sitting in Russia's seat during Biden's speech.

The address came as Russian-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine have announced plans to hold Kremlin-backed referendums in days ahead on becoming part of Russia and as Moscow is losing ground in the invasion.

The White House said the global food security funding includes $2 billion in direct humanitarian assistance through the United States Agency for International Development. The balance of the money will go to global development projects meant to boost the efficiency and resilience of the global food supply.

"This new announcement of $2.9 billion will save lives through emergency interventions and invest in medium- to long-term food security assistance in order to protect the world's most vulnerable populations from the escalating global food security crisis," the White House said.

Biden was confronting no shortage of difficult issues as leaders gather this year.

In addition to the Russian war in Ukraine, European fears that a recession could be just around the corner are heightened. Administration concerns grow by the day that time is running short to revive the Iran nuclear deal and over China's saber-rattling on Taiwan.

When he addressed last year's General Assembly, Biden focused on broad themes of global partnership, urging world leaders to act with haste against the coronavirus, climate change and human rights abuses. And he offered assurances that his presidency marked a return of American leadership to international institutions following Donald Trump's "America First" foreign policy.

But one year later, global dynamics have dramatically changed.

His Wednesday address comes on the heels of Ukrainian forces retaking control of large stretches of territory near Kharkiv. But even as Ukrainian forces have racked up battlefield wins, much of Europe is feeling painful blowback from economic sanctions levied against Russia. A vast reduction in Russian oil and gas has led to a sharp jump in energy prices, skyrocketing inflation and growing risk of Europe slipping into a recession.

Biden's visit to the U.N. also comes as his administration's efforts to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal appears stalled.

The deal brokered by the Obama administration - and scrapped by Trump in 2018 - provided billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for Iran's agreement to dismantle much of its nuclear program and open its facilities to extensive international inspection.

"While the United States is prepared for a mutual return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, if Iran steps up to its obligations, the United States is clear: We will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons," Biden said.

U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said no breakthrough with Iran was expected during the General Assembly and that administration officials would be consulting with fellow signers of the 2015 agreement on the sidelines of this week's meetings.

This year's U.N. gathering is back to being a full-scale, in-person event after two years of curtailed activity due to the pandemic. In 2020, the in-person gathering was canceled and leaders instead delivered prerecorded speeches; last year was a mix of in-person and prerecorded speeches. Biden and first lady Jill Biden were set to host a leaders' reception on Wednesday evening.

China's President Xi Jinping opted not to attend this year's U.N. gathering, but his country's conduct and intentions will loom large.

Weeks after tensions flared across the Taiwan Strait as China objected to the high-profile visit to Taiwan of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Biden called for "peace and stability" and said the U.S. would "oppose unilateral changes in the status quo by either side." That came days after Biden repeated that the U.S. would militarily assist Taiwan if China sought to invade.

China's government on Monday said Biden's statement in a CBS "60 Minutes" interview that American forces would defend the self-ruled island was a violation of U.S. commitments on the matter, but it gave no indication of possible retaliation.

Biden on Wednesday also declared that "fundamental freedoms are at risk in every part of our world," citing last month's U.N. human rights office report raising concerns about possible "crimes against humanity" in China's western region against Uyghurs and other largely Muslim ethnic groups.

He also singled out for criticism the military junta in Myanmar, the Taliban controlling Afghanistan, and Iran, where he said the U.S. supports protests in Iran that sprang up in recent days after a 22-year-old woman died while being held by the morality police for violating the country's Islamic dress code.

"Today we stand with the brave citizens and the brave women of Iran, who right now are demonstrating to secure their basic rights," Biden said. "The United States will always promote human rights and the values enshrined in the U.N. Charter in our own country and around the world."

Biden also highlighted his administration's new investments in addressing climate change, primarily through last month's passage of Democrats' massive "Inflation Reduction Act" which marks the largest single U.S. investment in addressing climate change.

He encouraged other nations to meet their own environmental commitments. "And none too soon - we don't have much time."

GRIDLOCK ALERT DETAILS

A Gridlock Alert remains in effect for the largest United Nations General Assembly in years, with detours, road closures, and checkpoints across Manhattan's East Side all week long.

Everyone is urged to take public transportation if possible.

Despite there being no credible threats, police are monitoring worldwide events, and thousands of officers will be spread out throughout the city, including traffic officers.

"There will be hundreds of motorcades moving around the city, sometimes simultaneously," NYPD Chief of Department Kenneth Corey said. "There will be security checkpoints. There'll be street closures, detours and other driving restrictions, including unannounced traffic freezes. It's a balance we strike each year because our plans are focused on minimizing, as much as possible, the impact all of this will have on New Yorkers, on the city's vehicular and pedestrian traffic."

Here are the announced street closures:

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2022

The following streets will have one traffic lane dedicated to emergency vehicles for the duration of the General Assembly:

--42nd Street from 1st Avenue to 5th Avenue

--57th Street from 2nd Avenue to 5th Avenue

--2nd Avenue from 41st Street to 57th Street

The following streets in the vicinity of the United Nations will continued to be closed to vehicular traffic:

--1st Avenue from 42nd Street to 48th Street. The tunnel underpass from 41st Street to 48th Street will remain open for passenger cars. Trucks and other large vehicles will not be able to access until the end of each day's session.

--44th Street from 1st Avenue to 2nd Avenue

--45th Street from 1st Avenue to 2nd Avenue

--46th Street from 1st Avenue to 2nd Avenue

The following will be closed to vehicular traffic beginning at approximately 5 a.m.:

--42nd Street from the FDR Drive to 2nd Avenue

--42nd Street Exit and Entrance Ramps of the FDR Drive

Please note: These areas will reopen each evening after the day's session.

The FDR DRIVE will be subject to intermittent closures:

--Southbound at 63rd Street

--Northbound at South Ferry

The following streets will have managed access and no vehicle parking permitted:

--49th Street from 3rd Avenue to Lexington Avenue

--50th Street from Park Avenue to Madison Avenue

--51st Street from Park Avenue to Madison Avenue

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2022

The following streets will have one traffic lane dedicated to emergency vehicles for the duration of the General Assembly:

--42nd Street from 1st Avenue to 5th Avenue

--57th Street from 2nd Avenue to 5th Avenue

--2nd Avenue from 41st Street to 57th Street

The following streets in the vicinity of the United Nations will continued to be closed to vehicular traffic:

--1st Avenue from 42nd Street to 48th Street. The tunnel underpass from 41st Street to 48th Street will remain open for passenger cars. Trucks and other large vehicles will not be able to access until the end of each day's session.

--44th Street from 1st Avenue to 2nd Avenue

--45th Street from 1st Avenue to 2nd Avenue

--46th Street from 1st Avenue to 2nd Avenue

The following will be closed to vehicular traffic beginning at approximately 5 a.m.:

--42nd Street from the FDR Drive to 2nd Avenue

--42nd Street Exit and Entrance Ramps of the FDR Drive

Please note: These areas will reopen each evening after the day's session.

The following streets will have managed access and no vehicle parking permitted:

--49th Street from 3rd Avenue to Lexington Avenue

--50th Street from Park Avenue to Madison Avenue

--51st Street from Park Avenue to Madison Avenue

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2022

The following streets will have one traffic lane dedicated to emergency vehicles for the duration of the General Assembly:

--42nd Street from 1st Avenue to 5th Avenue

--57th Street from 2nd Avenue to 5th Avenue

--2nd Avenue from 41st Street to 57th Street

The following streets in the vicinity of the United Nations will continued to be closed to vehicular traffic:

--1st Avenue from 42nd Street to 48th Street. The tunnel underpass from 41st Street to 48th Street will remain open for passenger cars. Trucks and other large vehicles will not be able to access until the end of each day's session.

--44th Street from 1st Avenue to 2nd Avenue

--45th Street from 1st Avenue to 2nd Avenue

--46th Street from 1st Avenue to 2nd Avenue

The following will be closed to vehicular traffic beginning at approximately 5 a.m.:

--42nd Street from the FDR Drive to 2nd Avenue

--42nd Street Exit and Entrance Ramps of the FDR Drive

Please note: These areas will reopen each evening after the day's session.

The following streets will have managed access and no vehicle parking permitted:

--49th Street from 3rd Avenue to Lexington Avenue

--50th Street from Park Avenue to Madison Avenue

--51st Street from Park Avenue to Madison Avenue

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24th, 2022

The following streets will have managed access and no vehicle parking permitted:

--49th Street from 3rd Avenue to Lexington Avenue

--50th Street from Park Avenue to Madison Avenue

--51st Street from Park Avenue to Madison Avenue

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

ALSO READ | Why a New Jersey teacher has kept an empty chair in his classroom for 52 years

----------

* Get Eyewitness News Delivered

* More Manhattan news

* Send us a news tip

* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts

* Follow us on YouTube

Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News

Have a breaking news tip or an idea for a story we should cover? Send it to Eyewitness News using the form below. If attaching a video or photo, terms of use apply.