Biden asks global leaders to counter Russia as Putin calls more troops to Ukraine

In the largest escalation of the war in Ukraine since Russia invaded, President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization of reservists. Moscow vows to send 300,000 additional troops into Ukraine and support sham referenda in Ukrainian territory that Russian troops currently occupy. President Biden and the world is responding at the United Nations General Assembly. Nick Schifrin reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    We have two lead stories tonight. The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates to their highest level in 14 years, in a move to fight inflation.

    But we begin with the largest escalation of the war in Ukraine since the Russia invasion. Overnight, Russia's President Vladimir Putin announced a draft of hundreds of thousands of military reservists. President Biden and the world are responding today at the annual U.N. General Assembly.

    Nick Schifrin is in New York, and he begins our coverage.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    On the 210th day of Russia's war in Ukraine, as a Russian rocket left another Ukrainian home a mangled mess, as Ukrainian soldiers maintained their momentum, evicting Russian occupiers and capturing equipment as Russian troops flee for their lives, President Vladimir Putin launched Russia's largest mobilization since World War II.

  • Vladimir Putin, Russian President (through translator):

    Only military reservists, primarily those who serve in the armed forces, will be called up. I have already signed the executive order on partial mobilization.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu promised to deploy an additional 300,000 veterans, doubling the number of Russian troops already committed to Ukraine.

    And in an echo of 2014 in Crimea, Putin endorsed referenda in occupied Ukrainian territory that the U.S. believes will lead to annexation.

  • Vladimir Putin (through translator):

    We will do everything necessary to create safe conditions for these referenda, so people can express their will. And we will support their choice for the future.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Western weapons have helped Ukraine survive and beat Russia back. Putin said the West — quote — "had gone too far" and unleashed what the U.S. today called a nuclear threat.

  • Vladimir Putin (through translator):

    Our country has different types of weapons as well, and some of them are more modern than the weapons NATO countries have. In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapons systems available to us. This is not a bluff.

    Joe Biden, President of the United States: If nations can pursue their imperial ambitions without consequences, then we put at risk everything this very institution stands for.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Forty five hundred miles away, President Biden addressed the annual U.N. General Assembly that Putin annually boycotts and called Putin's ambitions in Ukraine total.

  • Joe Biden:

    This war is about extinguishing Ukraine's right to exist as a state, plain and simple, and Ukraine's right to exist as a people.

    Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you believe, that should make your blood run cold.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Biden called the war a shameless violation of the very principle in which the U.N. was founded.

  • Joe Biden:

    You cannot seize a nation's territory by force. The only country standing in the way of that is Russia.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukrainian President:

    Greetings to all people of the world.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    This afternoon, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the world to help Ukraine quickly before Russia can freeze the front lines ahead of the winter.

  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy:

    It wants to prepare fortifications on occupied land and carry out military mobilization at home. We cannot agree to a delayed war, because it will be even hotter than the war now. For us, this is war for life.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    In Moscow, the mobilization sparked fury. A rare demonstration against the war ended with what independent rights group said were more than 1,000 arrests.

  • Narrator:

    Men and women chosen to represent the vast majority of mankind in this new effort to make life safe for the ordinary citizens throughout the globe.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    The U.N. General Assembly launched 76 years ago in the aftermath of two World Wars in one generation. President Biden harked back to those 1946 delegates' decision to try and bridge a divided world and today ended with a rallying cry of hope.

  • Joe Biden:

    The challenges we face today are great indeed, but our capacity is greater. Our commitment must be greater still. We're not passive witnesses to history. We are the authors of history. We can do this. We have to do it for ourselves and for our future, for humankind.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    But the very structure of the United Nations — Russia, of course, has a permanent veto on the Security Council — prevents this institution from having very much influence over the war in Ukraine.

    And that means, Judy, the war will be determined by the Ukrainian military (AUDIO GAP) to fight back against Russia and the West's ability to (AUDIO GAP) the support that Ukraine so badly needs.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Nick, a lot going on.

    And you were telling us there's also been talk today in New York about what has happened at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the largest nuclear plant in Europe, that there's discussion about its safety. What can you tell us about that?

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Yes, Rafael Grossi, the director general of the IAEA, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, is here doing shuttle diplomacy. He met earlier today with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba and then, after that, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to try and create a safe zone around that plant.

    That would include removing the Russian vehicles that are inside the plant and getting Russia to stop doing what the U.S. believes it is doing. And that's deliberately sabotaging the electricity lines going in and out of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

    Now, the electricity concerns have abated in the last week or so, Judy. But there was a new incident today that Grossi detailed that a pool where spent nuclear fuel is cooled actually stopped operating because there was an explosion at a nearby pipeline.

    Lastly, Judy, just a little bit of good news. There has been a prisoner swap between Ukraine and Russia moderated by the Saudis. And that includes the release of two Americans who had been held for three months and who had been sentenced to death. They are now free tonight.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Interesting timing there.

    And finally, Nick, we know that Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi spoke today at the U.N. Tell us what he said.

  • Nick Schifrin:

    Yes, Ebrahim Raisi recently spoke at the U.N. and was defined.

    At one point, he even held up a photo of Qasem Soleimani. That is, of course, the former Quds Force commander that was killed by a U.S. drone during the Trump administration. Raisi said that we will — quote — "continue down that path steadfastly," referring to the nuclear advancements that his country have made since leaving the Iran nuclear deal.

    But what he did not address, Judy, are those protests that have spread throughout Iran over the last five days over the death of a 22-year-old who died in Iranian custody. In those protests, seven people have been killed. Those protests continued today. And, today, Judy, President Biden said of the protests: "We stand with the women of Iran who are simply demonstrating for their basic rights."

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Nick Schifrin reporting on it all for us from the United Nations in New York.

    Thank you, Nick.

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