Politics

Street closures: President Joe Biden rebukes Russia at UN General Assembly over war in Ukraine; Gridlock Alert continues


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 are on President Joe Biden.

Biden is delivering 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.

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.

Biden is making the case to world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly that Russia’s “naked aggression” in Ukraine is an affront to the heart of what the international body stands for as he looks to rally allies to stand firm in backing the Ukrainian resistance.

Biden, during his time at the U.N. General Assembly, also planned to meet Wednesday with new British Prime Minister Liz Truss, announce a global food security initiative and press allies to meet an $18 billion target to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

But White House officials say the crux of the president’s visit to the U.N. this year is a full-throated condemnation of Russia as its brutal war nears the seven-month mark.

“He’ll offer a firm rebuke of Russia’s unjust war in Ukraine and make a call to the world to continue to stand against the naked aggression that we’ve seen these past several months,” White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in previewing the president’s address. “He will underscore the importance of strengthening the United Nations and reaffirm core tenets of its charter at a time when a permanent member of the Security Council has struck at the very heart of the charter by challenging the principle of territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

The address comes as Russian-controlled regions of eastern and southern Ukraine have announced plans to hold Kremllin-backed referendums in days ahead on becoming part of Russia and as Moscow is losing ground in the invasion. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced a partial mobilization to call up 300,000 reservists and accused the West of engaging in “nuclear blackmail.”

Biden is 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.

Stewart Patrick, senior fellow and director of the Global Order and Institutions Program at the Washington think tank Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in an analysis that Biden’s task this year is “immense” compared to his first address to the U.N. as president.

“Last year, the U.S. leader won easy plaudits as the ‘anti-Trump,’ pledging that ‘America was back,'” Patrick said. “This year demands more. The liberal, rules-based international system is reeling, battered by Russian aggression, Chinese ambitions, authoritarian assaults, a halting pandemic recovery, quickening climate change, skepticism of the U.N.’s relevance, and gnawing doubts about American staying power.”

Beyond diplomacy, the president is also doing some politicking. This year’s gathering comes less than seven weeks before pivotal midterm elections in the United States. Shortly after arriving in Manhattan on Tuesday night, Biden spoke at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser for about 100 participants that raised nearly $2 million, and he’s set to hold another fundraiser on Thursday before heading back to Washington.

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.

Sullivan said no breakthrough with Iran is expected during the General Assembly but Biden would make clear in his speech that a deal can still be done “if Iran is prepared to be serious about its obligations.” He added that administration officials would be consulting with fellow signatories of the 2015 deal 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 during the leaders’ talks.

Last month, the U.N. human rights office raised concerns about possible “crimes against humanity” in China’s western region against Uyghurs and other largely Muslim ethnic groups. Beijing has vowed to suspend cooperation with the office and blasted what it described as a Western plot to undermine China’s rise.

Meanwhile, China’s government on Monday said Biden’s statement in a CBS “60 Minutes” interview that American forces would defend Taiwan if Beijing tried to invade the self-ruled island was a violation of U.S. commitments on the matter, but it gave no indication of possible retaliation.

The White House said after the interview that there has been no change in U.S. policy on Taiwan, which China claims as its own. That policy says Washington wants to see Taiwan’s status resolved peacefully but doesn’t say whether U.S. forces might be sent in response to a Chinese attack.

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.

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