Chancellor Olaf Scholz gives his first speech at the UN general debate. He sharply criticizes Russia and Vladimir Putin. All voices and developments on the Ukraine war in the ticker here.
8:48 a.m .: According to Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, 300,000 reservists are to be mobilized against Ukraine. Reservists with combat experience should be used in the partial mobilization ordered by Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin, Shoigu said on Russian television on Wednesday. There are a total of 25 million reservists in Russia.
8:18 a.m.: Then Putin strikes the West again. He keeps repeating the same threats. He seems almost desperate after the Russians suffered heavy defeats. “The West wants to destroy Russia.” That’s why the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant was attacked. Russia would have more modern weapons than the West, Putin claims. Among other things, nuclear weapons, he adds. “We will use all means – and I’m not bluffing”. With that, Putin ends his statement.
08:16: The mobilization would start today – September 21, according to Putin. He emphasizes: “It is a partial mobilization.” Only those who are currently serving and have served will be called up – with further military training.
8:14 a.m .: He supports the announced referendums. “The decision, which will be supported by the majority of citizens in the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, in the Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts, Putin said in a televised address on Wednesday.
8:11 a.m .: Given the situation in Ukraine, Putin announces a partial mobilization of the armed forces. He made the decision following a proposal from the Defense Ministry and signed the decree, he said.
08:09: Putin continues to argue that the West and NATO are responsible for the escalation in Ukraine, “The West is reluctant to find a peaceful solution”.
08:06: “The West has made Ukraine cannon fodder,” says Putin. Western countries would fight Russia to the death – and would have forced Ukraine into war with Russia.
8:03 a.m.: Putin addresses the citizens of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaprizhia and Kherson. They would get their freedom back after the West wants to “violently impose its will on other countries.”
08:02: Russian President Vladimir Putin begins his address to the nation.
7.41 a.m .: Putin’s speech to the nation, which was actually announced for 10 p.m. on Tuesday evening, should now be broadcast on September 21, according to “Forbes Russia”, “when the Far East wakes up”. The editor-in-chief of “RT”, Margarita Simonjan, also suggested to her readers on the Telegram messenger service on Tuesday evening: “Go to bed!” Should Putin speak, FOCUS online will accompany the speech live.
In Russia, the announcement of Putin’s speech and the referendums in Ukraine seemed to cause unrest. There was a lot of talk on social networks about a possible general mobilization. Searches such as “how to leave Russia” and “mobilization” skyrocketed in Russia in the evening, Google Trends showed.
1:47 a.m .: Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) campaigned at the UN general debate in view of numerous crises for strengthening international cooperation and reforming the UN Security Council. It must be possible “to ensure that the multipolar world of the 21st century remains a multilateral world,” said Scholz on Tuesday evening (local time) in his speech to the UN General Assembly in New York.
“Nationalism and isolation do not solve the challenges of our time,” said the Chancellor. “More cooperation, more partnership, more participation is the only sensible answer, whether it’s about fighting climate change or global health risks, inflation and disrupted trade chains or how we deal with displacement and migration.”
In his first speech to the UN General Assembly, Scholz lamented a “new fragmentation of the world”: “New wars and conflicts have arisen. Major global crises are piling up in front of us, connecting and intensifying.” Nevertheless, there can be no talk of a “rules-free world”: “Our problem is not a lack of rules. Our problem is the lack of will to comply with and enforce them.”
Scholz called on the international community to support the goals and principles of the UN Charter. “That’s why we can’t sit back and relax when a well-armed, nuclear superpower – a founding member of the United Nations and a permanent member of the UN Security Council – wants to use force to move borders,” said Scholz, referring to Russia’s war of aggression Ukraine.
“There is no justification for Russia’s war of conquest against Ukraine. President (Vladimir) Putin is leading him with a single goal: to seize Ukraine. Self-determination and political independence do not count for him. There is only one word for that: It is sheer imperialism!” said Scholz.
The world community must not allow Russia to win the war, Scholz said. “That is why we will not accept a Russian dictated peace. That is why Ukraine must be able to repel Russia’s attack. We support Ukraine with all our might: financially, economically, humanitarianly and also with weapons.”
In his speech, Scholz also advocated a reform of the UN Security Council, in which Russia, as one of five permanent members, has a right of veto. Rules and institutions would have to be “adapted to the reality of the 21st century”, said the Chancellor.
A “reform and expansion” of the Security Council is therefore necessary, “above all to include countries of the Global South”. “Germany is also willing to take on greater responsibility – as a permanent member and initially as a non-permanent member in 2027/2028.”
Germany, which is bidding for one of the ten non-permanent seats on the UN Security Council in 2027 and 2028, has long sought to reform the most powerful UN body. Critics complain that the structure of the Security Council – in particular the great power of the five permanent members China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the USA – is no longer up to date and could lead to the body being blocked.
Most recently, the USA signaled openness to reforms. US President Joe Biden also wanted to deal with the topic in his speech at the UN general debate on Wednesday, as announced by his national security adviser Jake Sullivan.
12:21 a.m .: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has reacted with demonstrative calm to the announcement of sham referendums on the connection of occupied areas of his country to Russia. “Our position is not changed by noise or any announcements,” he said in his video address on Tuesday evening. “We are defending Ukraine, we are liberating our country, and most importantly, we are not showing any weakness.”
Zelenskyj thanked the unanimous condemnation of the Russian plans by many countries and organizations. “We have the full support of our partners,” he said in Kyiv. At the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday, he said he wanted to make Ukraine’s position clear and unambiguous. He will be connected to New York via video.
The Moscow-backed separatist regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as the Donetsk and Zaporizhia regions captured in the war, are planning referendums from September 23-27. The referendums held at the same time without any controls amount to a quick union with Russia and are seen as Moscow’s reaction to the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the east of the country. Similarly, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Wednesday, September 21, 12:04 a.m.: Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier expects a further escalation of the war as a result of the votes planned by Moscow on the accession of eastern Ukrainian regions to Russia. “This will undoubtedly lead to an aggravation of the conflict situation,” said Steinmeier on Tuesday during a visit to Mexico City. Chancellor Olaf Scholz had previously spoken of “sham referendums” that violate international law and would not be accepted. Steinmeier said that many had feared this development of the Ukraine war, now the time seems to be approaching.
11:47 p.m .: Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has condemned the announced votes in several Ukrainian regions on accession to Russia as a “mockery” of Ukraine and the United Nations. The renewed provocation should not result in a move away from support for Ukraine for fear of a further escalation of the conflict, the Greens politician warned on Tuesday evening in the ARD “Tagesthemen”. She spoke from New York, where she is staying for the 77th General Debate of the UN General Assembly.
“With all caution, with all the responsibility that we have, we must not allow ourselves to be fooled by this renewed provocation, but we must now continue to support Ukraine with full responsibility for peace in Europe,” said Baerbock. “The arms deliveries will continue because they will save lives,” she assured.
The world community will make it clear “that you can never accept a so-called vote held at gunpoint in the head,” said the Foreign Minister, referring to the sham referendums in the occupied territories. The fact that these were announced at the start of the UN General Assembly in New York shows “how much the Russian President tramples on the United Nations, international law, actually all other states in the world”. Because the Russian war of aggression is stepping up even more with it into the focus of the assembly, which signals to other countries that their issues and concerns are not really given space.
Baerbock also made it clear that she sees the planned votes as an act of desperation on the part of Russian President Vladimir Putin in view of the recapture of large areas by Ukraine: “Since he is currently not making any progress militarily, he is now taking this step,” said Baerbock. The Russian “regime” massively underestimated “that you can’t march through to Kyiv in a few days”. Putin also underestimated the international unity in rejecting such a breach of international law.
9:35 p.m .: The Russian announcement that “referenda” would soon be held in several regions caused a stir on Tuesday. In the evening, Putin wanted to make a speech on Russian television. The speech was eagerly awaited, as the timing seemed anything but coincidental. It would have been the first time in months that he addressed the Russian population in a speech.
Would be – because Putin never showed up. First, the speech should be delayed by an hour, then by two. Eventually, several Russian broadcasters withdrew the announcement from the program. Reporters, citing Sergei Markov, who is close to the Kremlin, reported that the speech would no longer take place on Tuesday. Instead, it should be postponed to Wednesday.
“RT” also took the announcement out of its broadcast notes. The head of the station, Margarita Simonyan, wrote in the evening: “Go to bed.” A clear indication that Putin really won’t speak anymore today.
5:06 p.m .: Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has rejected the referendums on annexation by Russia announced by the pro-Russian authorities in four Ukrainian regions as unacceptable. It was “very clear that these sham referendums cannot be accepted,” Scholz told journalists in New York on Tuesday. They are “not covered by international law and by the understandings that the international community has found”.
5:05 p.m .: Ukraine reacted calmly to the “referendums” announced by Russia and the Russian occupation authorities in the occupied areas in the east and south of the country. “Neither the pseudo referendums nor the hybrid mobilization will change anything,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. Ukraine will continue to liberate its territory, no matter what is said in Russia.
The head of the presidential office in Kyiv, Andriy Yermak, spoke of “naive blackmail” and “fear-mongering”. “This is what the fear of defeat (of the Russian troops) looks like. The enemy is afraid and manipulates in a primitive way,” wrote the 50-year-old on the Telegram news channel.
3:58 p.m .: Against the background of the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin has called for a significant increase in arms production. “Armaments industry organizations must ensure that the armed forces are supplied with the necessary weapons, technology and combatants as quickly as possible,” Putin said at a meeting with the heads of Russian armaments companies on Tuesday, according to the Interfax news agency. At the same time, it is necessary to completely dispense with imports in weapons production.
Putin stated that Russian weapons had proven to be equal to those of the West. But at the same time he claimed that “all the reserves of NATO’s arsenals” would be used in the war. Therefore, “we have to strengthen our opportunities in terms of quality and, based on the experience we have gained, perfect our technology and weapons where necessary,” said the 69-year-old.
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