On eve of UN address, Ukraine's Zelenskiy says: We want to be heard

By Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) -Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy met with wounded Ukrainian soldiers at a New York City hospital on Monday, shortly after arriving in the United States to address world leaders at the United Nations.

In his first in-person visit to the 193-member world body since Russia's February 2022 invasion of his country, Zelenskiy is due to speak to the annual high-level U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

"For us it's very important that all our words, all our messages will be heard by our partners," Zelenskiy told reporters during a visit to Staten Island University Hospital, where Ukrainian soldiers have been treated for amputations.

"And if in the United Nations still ... there is a place for Russian terrorists, the question not to me I think, it's a question to all the members of the United Nations," he said.

Zelenskiy traveled straight to the hospital from the airport after landing in New York on Monday. He honored the wounded soldiers and some hospital staff with medals.

Zelenskiy also said he would attend a U.N. Security Council meeting on Ukraine on Wednesday, but was unclear on whether he would remain seated at the 15-member body's horseshoe-shaped table if Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov speaks.

"I'm not sure that we will choose the format. I don't know how it will be," he told reporters.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia last week said the council meeting, convened by Albania as the president for September, would simply be a "big show."

After New York, Zelenskiy will travel to Washington, where he is expected to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden and members of Congress. In a post on Telegram, Zelenskiy said he also plans to meet military and business officials.

(Reporting by Ron Popeski and Michelle Nichols; editing by Don Durfee, Howard Goller and Grant McCool)