President Obama slammed “the politics of ‘us vs. them’” and Russian aggression in Ukraine during an address at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Monday. Obama said that while he leads the strongest military in the world, the world can’t turn back to an era of constant conflict. “You can jail your opponents, but you can’t imprison ideas” he said, adding that technology and social media have aided people around the world in defining how they want to be governed. Speaking ahead of an address by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Obama called out Russia’s “continued aggression” in eastern Ukraine. He said the war has only served to drive Ukraine closer to the West.
During a subsequent speech, Putin criticized “people criticizing Russian ambition as if they have no ambitions themselves.” The Russian leader called the conflict in Ukraine a “civil war” triggered by a “military coup” rather than Russian aggression. In another jab at the U.S., Putin insisted on providing “comprehensive assistance to the legitimate government of Syria.” Obama and Putin are set to meet, possibly discussing the situation in Syria and Ukraine.