China's Xi, Russia's Putin push back at Trump during virtual gathering of the U.N. General Assembly
United Nations — Laying down the diplomatic gauntlet, President Trump referred to the "fierce battle against the invisible enemy — the China virus" in a full throttle attack on China, as he spoke by video to the U.N. General Assembly's general debate that began Tuesday amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world: China," Mr. Trump said.
China's President Xi Jinping's video message was part conciliation, part push-back. China has "no intention to fight either a Cold War or a hot one with any country," Xi said, but added, "Burying one's head in the sand like an ostrich in the face of economic globalization or trying to fight it with Don Quixote's lance goes against the trend of history."
"Let this be clear: The world will never return to isolation, and no one can sever the ties between countries," Xi said, warning that China will not "engage in zero sum game."
Responding to Mr. Trump's intended withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO), Xi said that the WHO was at the core of the pandemic response.
Just as Mr. Trump put China in his crosshairs at the U.N., Secretary General Antonio Guterres cautioned the U.S. and China.
"Our world cannot afford a future where the two largest economies split the globe in a Great Fracture — each with its own trade and financial rules and internet and artificial intelligence capacities," Guterres said. "A technological and economic divide risks inevitably turning into a geo-strategic and military divide."
Russia's President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday touted the importance of the U.N. and multilateralism, and decried the divisions within the 15-nation Security Council. The U.S. has been locked in a battle with world powers on several issues, the most recent is on the reimposition of sanctions on Iran.
Putin also took some jabs at mistaken views of his country.
"Forgetting the lessons of history is short-sighted and extremely irresponsible, just like the politicized attempts to arbitrarily interpret the causes, course and outcomes of the Second World War and twist the decisions of the conferences of the Allies and the Nuremberg Tribunal that are based on speculation instead of facts," Putin said.
He repeated his offer to establish "green corridors" free from trade wars and sanctions, primarily for essential goods, food, medicine and personal protective equipment needed to fight the pandemic.
And, he too, took the moment to commend the "central coordinating role of the World Health Organization, which is part of the U.N. system." He pointed out Russia's Registration of "the world's first vaccine, Sputnik-V" and offered it free of charge to U.N. staff.
During Putin's address to the U.N., he showed off Russia's new flagship nuclear-powered icebreaker that left a shipyard on Tuesday headed for the Arctic.
The U.N.'s Deputy Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy was not as diplomatic in his view of some of the speeches delivered to the U.N.
"We witnessed an #Election2020 campaign show in the UN. Of very mediocre quality and with clear cold-war connotations. Where is the expected address of a leader of a great nation to the United Nations?" he tweeted of Mr. Trump's address.
Putin also cautioned that the Russia-U.S. Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty will expire in February 2021 and called for "mutual restraint ... with regard to deploying new missile systems."
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