Though the Ukrainian President couldn’t see it, the reaction in the UN General Assembly chamber to his speech was the one he wanted. A standing ovation from the representatives of many aligned countries.
President Putin’s stark nuclear threats had come before dawn US time while leaders and delegates at the annual General Assembly were asleep.
And as leaders arrived, our attempts to solicit their reactions failed.
The Canadian prime minister, the EU commission president and the Turkish foreign minister were all silent. This wasn’t the moment for off-the-cuff remarks.
There was anticipation instead for how America’s President Biden would react to the overnight language from Moscow. His speech had a sentence or two reworked and emphasis changed.
“This war is about extinguishing Ukraine’s right to exist as a state. Plain and simple. Wherever you are, whatever you believe that should make your blood run cold,” he said.
“If nations can pursue imperial ambitions without consequences then we put at risk everything this institution stands for.”
On the specifics of the Russian nuclear threat: “We do not seek conflict. We do not seek a Cold War… A nuclear war can not be won and must never be fought.”
Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy was video-linked into the chamber from Kyiv.
He demanded “just punishment” of Russia for a “crime committed against the values that make you and me a community of the United Nations”.
“There is only one entity among all UN member states who would say now, if he could interrupt my speech, that he is happy with the war, with his war,” Zelenskyy said.
Liz Truss’s speech came late in the day – nothing more than a quirk of UN timetabling.
Prime Minister for less than three weeks and already she’s at the podium on the world stage. What a baptism of fire.
It was a moment for her to make her mark and in a chamber like the UN, the impact so often is about more than just the words, it’s about the delivery.
“This morning we have seen Putin desperately trying to justify his catastrophic failures.” she said.
“He is doubling down by sending even more reservists to a terrible fate. He is desperately trying to claim the mantle of democracy for a regime without human rights or freedoms. And he is making yet more bogus claims and sabre-rattling threats.”
She’s not the orator her predecessor was. Commanding a forum like the UN chamber isn’t easy.
Earlier, she had her first one-to-one meeting with President Biden.
Ukraine was the focus of course there too, and naturally there was a united front.
But from the four minutes or so of the meeting that cameras were permitted to, the body language seemed stiff.
The UK and America are two nations with a special relationship – yes, but as leaders, Joe Biden and Liz Truss have very different politics and no obvious rapport.
The next focus in here later today – a UN Security Council meeting of foreign ministers, where – like the other permanent members – Russia has a veto.
Watch for a clash of words: Russia’s Sergei Lavrov opposite America’s Tony Blinken and Britain’s new foreign Secretary, James Cleverly.