Peacebuilding Chief Notes Human, Material Tolls Brought on by Russian Federation

Despite positive progress in exporting grain and other food products from Ukraine’s ports, the people of that country and beyond urgently need peace, the Secretary-General of the United Nations told the Security Council today, as Council members took stock of the now six-month-old conflict on the thirty-first anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, briefed the Council on his recent visit to Ukraine where — due to the Black Sea Grain Initiative — dozens of ships have sailed in and out of Ukrainian ports loaded with over 720,000 metric tons of grains and other food products.  He recalled seeing wheat pouring into the holds of cargo ships and the United Nations flag flying over vessels bound for the Horn of Africa, emphasizing that the Initiative is a powerful demonstration of what can be achieved “when we put people first”.

Also spotlighting the other part of the deal — which allows Russian food and fertilizer unimpeded access to global markets — he called on all Governments and the private sector to cooperate to bring these goods to market.  There will not be enough food in 2023 if the fertilizer market is not stabilized in 2022, he stressed, also calling for a massive scaling-up of support to developing countries reeling from the global food crisis as the shipment of grain and other foodstuffs “won’t mean much if countries cannot afford them”.

He went on to express grave concern over the situation in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, underscoring that “the warning lights are flashing”.  The security of the plant must be ensured, and he urged that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) be allowed to conduct a mission to the site as soon as possible.  Noting the thirty-first anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, he underscored that “the people of Ukraine and beyond need peace, and they need peace now”.

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, next briefed the Council that there is no end in sight to the conflict triggered by the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine.  During the past 181 days, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 13,560 civilian casualties — 5,614 killed and 7,946 injured — and the actual numbers are considerably higher.  She further voiced concern over the situation facing prisoners of war on both sides, stressing that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) must have unimpeded, confidential access to all places of detention.

She also highlighted rising humanitarian needs, pointing out that at least 17.7 million people — 40 per cent of Ukraine’s population — require humanitarian assistance and protection.  She additionally noted the worldwide repercussions of the war in Ukraine, citing a July estimate by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that up to 71 million people may have already been pushed into poverty in the three months following the start of the invasion.  Stressing that the human and material toll of the war is tragic, colossal and evident — first and foremost for Ukraine and its people — she underscored:  “It must end”.

In the ensuing debate, many Council members expressed concern over the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the site and urging that IAEA be allowed to evaluate conditions there.  While members also welcomed the positive development of resumed Ukrainian grain exports, some highlighted the continuing consequences for the world resulting from ongoing military hostilities in Ukraine.

Kenya’s representative, spotlighting multilateralism as the last hope against a new world war, stressed that Ukraine’s immediate fate is important to the world.  Unless the war is stopped through dialogue, it could be the first in a series of conflicts that historians term the “third world war”, he said, calling for intuitive, bold leadership from any and every country with influence to push the parties into dialogue.

The representative of Brazil, also urging the parties to keep channels for dialogue open, pointed out that both reality and history demonstrate that closing that door is not the right approach to resolving conflict.  It is in everyone’s best interests that the two countries are able to live side-by-side in the future, he added.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates similarly called on leaders from both sides to commit to charting a path forward, with the support of the international community.  The Charter of the United Nations provides many tools with which to end conflict, provided that the political will to use them exists.  In this vein, she welcomed agreements to facilitate the export of grain, food supplies and fertilizers to global markets, but stressed that this “rare example of tangible progress” cannot be the last.

On that point, the representative of the Russian Federation said that, while the Secretary-General’s “so-called ‘Black Sea Initiative’” is considered a sort of “success story”, only one of the 34 dry cargo ships went to Africa over four weeks of export operations.  The true cause of global food security issues is Western sanctions, he stressed, calling on all involved to take the “package” nature of the initiative seriously and resolve the financial and logistical problems that impede the export of Russian food and fertilizers to the global market.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, while noting that different parts of the world have different approaches and values, underscored that life, peace and economic prosperity have value everywhere in the world.  Calling for the Russian Federation to be held accountable for its crimes of aggression against Ukraine, he underscored that, if Moscow is not stopped now, then “all these Russian murderers will inevitably end up in other countries”.  “It is on the territory of Ukraine that the world’s future will be decided,” he said, adding that “our independence is your security”.

At the outset of the meeting, the representative of the Russian Federation requested a procedural vote concerning the President of Ukraine’s participation in today’s meeting by video teleconference.  Following statements by representatives of the Russian Federation and Albania, the Council extended an invitation to the President of Ukraine to participate in the meeting via video teleconference by a vote of 13 in favour to one against (Russian Federation), with one abstention (China).

Also speaking were representatives of the United States, Albania, France, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, Gabon, Ghana, India, Mexico and China, along with the European Union in its capacity as observer.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 12:34 p.m.

Procedural Vote

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), objecting to the virtual participation of the President of Ukraine in today’s meeting, said that his country does not oppose the President’s participation; rather, he said that such participation must be in-person.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Council decided to work virtually, but such meetings were informal and, after the pandemic’s peak, the Council returned to the provisional rules of procedure.  Stressing that the Council cannot make an exception for one country or one person, he pointed out that the meeting was announced a week in advance, that the President of Ukraine has travelled around the country to meet foreign delegations, that Ukraine’s Minister for Foreign Affairs has travelled abroad and that the Secretary-General has recently travelled to Ukraine.  Reiterating that his country’s objection pertains specifically to the President’s participation by video teleconference, he called for a procedural vote on this matter.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said that, while post-pandemic Rule 37 participation by video teleconference should be the exception, the democratically elected leader of a sovereign country cannot leave that country for reasons beyond his control.  “We all know what those reasons are,” he said, emphasizing that the justification for this exception remains unchanged from when the Council previously agreed that the President of Ukraine could address the 15-member organ by video teleconference in April and June.  Ukraine is at war, and the situation in that country requires the President to be there.  Due to this unique situation, he supported the President’s participation via video teleconference and urged other members to do the same.

The Council then adopted a proposal to extend an invitation to the President of Ukraine to participate in today’s meeting via video teleconference, pursuant to Rule 37, by a vote of 13 in favour to one against (Russian Federation), with one abstention (China).

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) voiced regret that Council members had spoken out against complying with the rules of the organ.  “We can understand the logic of Kyiv’s Western backers…,” he said, expressing disappointment that other members today contributed to the erosion of the Council’s very foundation and practices.  Despite his delegation’s position, it will hear Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy because “we have something to say to him as well”.  He hoped that Mr. Zelenskyy would remain until the conclusion of today’s meeting.  “We shall see whether Mr. Zelenskyy will be able to come to the seventy-seventh session of the General Assembly as the head of the Ukrainian delegation or not, as the representative of Albania has claimed,” he said.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, briefing the Council on his recent visit to Ukraine, said that the Black Sea Grain Initiative is progressing well.  Dozens of ships have sailed in and out of Ukrainian ports — loaded with over 720,000 metric tons of grains and other food products — and he recalled seeing wheat pouring into the holds of cargo ships and the United Nations flag flying on vessels bound for the Horn of Africa where millions of people are at risk of famine.  He said that the Initiative is a powerful demonstration of what can be achieved “when we put people first”, also spotlighting the other part of the deal that allows Russian food and fertilizer unimpeded access to global markets.  All Governments and the private sector must cooperate to bring these goods to market, as there will not be enough food in 2023 if the fertilizer market is not stabilized in 2022.  He also stressed that, while getting more food and fertilizer out of Ukraine and the Russian Federation at reasonable costs is vital to calm commodity markets, the shipment of grain and other foodstuffs “won’t mean much if countries cannot afford them”.  He therefore called for a massive scaling-up of support to developing countries “getting hammered by the global food crisis”.

He went on to express grave concern over the situation in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, underscoring that “the warning lights are flashing”.  Any actions that might endanger the physical integrity, safety or security of the plant are unacceptable, and any further escalation of the situation could lead to self-destruction.  He called for the security of the plant to be ensured, for the facility to be re-established as purely civilian infrastructure and for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct a mission to the site as soon as possible.  Also expressing concern over alleged violations of international humanitarian law, he stressed that such law protects prisoners of war and that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) must have access to such prisoners wherever they are held.  Further, the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine must be able to freely conduct its work to find the facts through safe, secure and unfettered access to all relevant places, persons and evidence.  Noting the thirty-first anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, he underscored that “the people of Ukraine and beyond need peace, and they need peace now”.

ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, recalled that on 23 February, the Council heard impassioned pleas to avert a war in Ukraine to no avail.  Today, exactly six months later, there is no end in sight to the conflict triggered by the Russian Federation’s invasion, she said.  The heaviest fighting is concentrated in the eastern Donbas region, in the south near Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, and in the north-east near Kharkiv.  However, virtually all corners of Ukraine are affected, and no one is out of reach of missile strikes.  During the past 181 days, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had recorded 13,560 civilian casualties:  5,614 killed and 7,946 injured, she said, adding that actual numbers are considerably higher.  Noting other figures documented by OHCHR, she underscored that the indiscriminate shelling and bombing of populated areas, killing civilians and wrecking hospitals, schools and other civilian infrastructure, are actions that may amount to war crimes.

Voicing concern about the situation of prisoners of war on both sides, she said there is a need for unimpeded and confidential access by ICRC to all places of detention.  Noting reports that the Russian Federation and affiliated armed groups in Donetsk are planning to try Ukrainian prisoners of war in a so-called “international tribunal” in Mariupol, she stressed that any tribunal must respect the protections afforded to all prisoners of war by international law, and that the failure to uphold those standards could amount to a war crime.  Humanitarian needs continue to rise rapidly, she pointed out, noting that at least 17.7 million people, or 40 per cent of the Ukrainian population, need humanitarian assistance and protection, including 3.3 million children.  “As winter approaches, the destruction caused by war, combined with the lack of access to fuel or electricity due to damaged infrastructure, could become a matter of life or death, if people are unable to heat their homes,” she warned.  The United Nations ongoing winterization efforts aim to complement and support the work led by the Government of Ukraine.

She went on to say that the United Nations revised flash appeal requires $4.3 billion to support 17.7 million people in need of assistance through December 2022.  Donors have generously provided $2.4 billion, as of 19 August.  The humanitarian response has scaled-up to 500 humanitarian organization partners reaching over 11.8 million people with at least one form of assistance.  The war has severely impacted agriculture in Ukraine, leaving thousands of farmers without income, destroying grain storage facilities and exacerbating food insecurity among vulnerable groups.  Noting the worldwide repercussions of the war in Ukraine, she said that in July, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) estimated that up to 71 million people may have already been pushed into poverty in the three months after the start of the war.  The global financial situation remains volatile, she added, noting that energy markets remain under stress and inflation continued to accelerate in July, more drastically affecting developing and least developed countries.

Noting that today’s grim six-month anniversary coincides with Ukraine’s National Day — an occasion to celebrate the country’s sovereignty and independence and proud heritage, she said the human and material toll of the war is tragic, colossal and evident, first and foremost, for Ukraine and its people.  In closing, she said:  “In deepening global divisions and exacerbating mistrust in our institutions, the war is weakening the foundations of our international system.  The consequences of a breakdown in how the world manages questions of peace and security are frightening to contemplate.  This war is not only senseless, but exceedingly dangerous, and it touches all of us.  It must end.”

Statements

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, President of Ukraine, said that the Russian Federation has placed the world on the brink of nuclear catastrophe by turning the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant into a war zone.  The plant has six reactors — only one exploded at Chernobyl — and IAEA must take permanent control of the situation as soon as possible.  Further, he called on the Russian Federation to cease its “nuclear blackmail” and completely withdraw from the plant.  While he welcomed the fact that the Russian Federation was forced to accept the international community’s terms to allow grain exports from three Ukrainian ports, he emphasized that this development only relieves tensions in global food markets — it does not remove the threat of food insecurity.  Expressing regret that the international community still must fight in the twenty-first century to save tens of millions of people from artificial hunger “provoked by a single country with its insane aggression”, he called on the international community to do everything possible in the coming weeks to expand the existing grain initiative.  He also pointed out that the Russian Federation is deliberately trying to impose “energy poverty” on tens of millions of people by deliberately raising energy prices.

While noting that different parts of the world have different approaches and values, he underscored that life, peace and economic prosperity have value everywhere in the world.  All countries — if they respect themselves — punish murder.  However, there is one country that behaves differently — rewarding murderers and encouraging executioners — and is proud of doing so.  Moscow does not comply with fundamental conventions concerning prisoners of war, and there is no war crime that the Russian occupiers have not yet committed on Ukraine’s territory.  If Moscow is not stopped now, he stressed, then “all these Russian murderers will inevitably end up in other countries”.  The Russian Federation must be held accountable for its crimes of aggression against Ukraine, and the international community must force Moscow to recognize that the inviolability of borders and peace are unconditional values for all nations.  “It is on the territory of Ukraine that the world’s future will be decided,” he said, adding that “our independence is your security”.

LINDA THOMAS GREENFIELD (United States) said the Russian Federation’s goal is as clear as ever:  to dismantle Ukraine as a geopolitical entity and erase it from the world map.  Its disinformation campaigns are increasingly being weaponized to prepare for further attempts to annex Ukrainian territory.  However, the international community will never recognize the Russian Federation’s attempt to change Ukraine’s borders by force, she underscored.  Noting that Ukraine had an impeccable record of nuclear energy safety and security at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, she said the Russian Federation recklessly attacked and seized control of that site by force, risking nuclear disaster.  She voiced concern about Moscow’s “so-called filtration operation”, which involves the systematic and forced deportation of Ukrainian civilians to remote areas of the Russian Federation.  Millions of Ukrainians are still under siege and tens of millions around the world are being driven to hunger by the Russian Federation’s actions, she said, stressing that Moscow is the sole hindrance to a swift resolution to the crisis.  The international community must continue to call for and ensure accountability for all atrocities committed by the Russian Federation.

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) recalled that 31 years ago today, Ukraine declared its independence from “the decaying Soviet Union”.  Today also marks six months since the start of the invasion, when the Charter of the United Nations “was thrown in the Kremlin shredder” and “respect for international law” lost any meaning for Moscow.  It marks 27 weeks since the General Assembly’s resolution asking the Russian Federation to stop the war and 25 weeks since an International Court of Justice order for Moscow to stop its military activities.  Yet, the Russian Federation shows a clear intention to dismantle Ukraine, amid unquestionable evidence that its actions are destabilizing global security, energy and food security conditions.  Five children have been killed for each day of the war, while many more millions are left with invisible wounds.  He went on to describe a recent explosion that killed 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war held in Ukraine under Russian control, strongly requesting the United Nations to ensure the investigation is conducted impartially.  Citing reports that the Russian Federation is now recruiting prisoners into the fight, he reiterated that any territorial annexation or development incompatible with Ukraine’s Constitution imposed by Russian Federation — such as sham elections or referenda — will not be accepted or recognized.  Nor will the “Crimea template”.  He reaffirmed Albania’s unwavering solidarity with the people of Ukraine, calling on the Russian Federation to stop the war, withdraw its troops and change course.

NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France), stressing that Ukrainians are fighting for their sovereignty, said her country will continue to support Ukraine as long as is necessary in face of the Russian Federation’s aggression.  France will never recognize the annexation of territories occupied by the Russian Federation, the legitimacy of independent referenda organized by Moscow in these territories to camouflage its violations of international law, or the annexation of Crimea.  Welcoming that the Joint Coordination Centre is now operational and that 33 vessels have left Ukrainian ports since the signing of the Istanbul accord.  However, supply chains are still disrupted, transport costs are high and energy markets are crippled.  The presence of Russian troops at Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant heightens the risk of a nuclear accident, and she appealed for the withdrawal of those forces, stressing that any adverse events there would be the responsibility of Moscow.  She described information on extrajudicial killings and torture of Ukrainian prisoners as “shocking”, emphasizing that the Russian Federation must respect international humanitarian law, which applies to all conflicts, whether or not Moscow chooses to acknowledge it is at war.  She voiced support for the International Criminal Court investigations into mass atrocity crimes in Ukraine, noting that France will follow closely the upcoming publication of the Human Rights Council Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine.  She called on the Russian Federation to choose diplomacy and to recognize Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, within internationally recognized borders.

CÁIT MORAN (Ireland) said that for 183 days, her country has called for an end to the unjustified and unjustifiable war being waged against Ukraine.  The Russian Federation must comply with its obligations under international law.  Moreover, parties to the conflict must comply with international humanitarian law.  This includes the obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants and not to attack civilian objects, the prohibitions against indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, and the obligation to take all feasible precautions in attack.  She called on the Russian Federation to end its brutal war and withdraw its troops from the entire internationally recognized territory of Ukraine, and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its neighbours.  Voicing concern about the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, and the serious risk of a radiological accident or incident arising from military activity at the facility, she called on the Russian Federation to end its illegal occupation of the site, withdraw its troops and munitions, and ensure that Ukrainian authorities can uphold their responsibilities for the safety and security there.

TRINE SKARBOEVIK HEIMERBACK (Norway) condemned the Russian Federation’s military aggression, underscoring that thousands of civilians have been killed, millions have fled their homes and others are trapped in war zones.  Expressing solidarity with the people of Ukraine, she stressed that civilians must be protected, and international humanitarian law and international human rights law fully respected and implemented.  Humanitarian actors must be ensured access.  The Russian Federation must stop the war and fully, immediately and unconditionally withdraw its forces and military equipment from Ukraine.  War crimes cannot be forgotten, she said, stressing that perpetrators — at all levels — must be held accountable.  On the resumption of Ukrainian grain exports, she said:  “We are certainly encouraged that a critical transportation line from a global breadbasket might be restored.  It is much needed, for Ukrainians as well as the world’s most vulnerable people and countries.”

JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), recalling that after six months of war in Ukraine, thousands of civilians have been killed and more than 17 million need humanitarian assistance, amid a pattern of Russian violations of international humanitarian law, including reports of torture, inhumane treatment, arbitrary detention and forced deportation of Ukrainian citizens to the Russian Federation.  Beyond Ukraine’s borders, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin’s decisions have had a devastating impact, with millions across the world facing rising food and fuel prices.  He pointed to reports that Moscow is organizing fake referenda to illegally annex more territory from Ukraine.  “Any such attempt would fool no one,” he said, stressing that the Russian Federation has lied throughout its illegal invasion, using disinformation to create false pretexts, undermine Ukrainian sovereignty, obscure the truth and hide war crimes.  Thirty-one years ago today, Ukraine declared its independence, with over 90 per cent of Ukrainians voting in favour.  “That pride in Ukrainian identity and sovereignty remains as strong as ever,” he said, describing Ukraine’s fight as one for the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.  “All of us in this Chamber have a responsibility to recognize that.”

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) pointed out that — six months after the opening of hostilities — there is no solution in sight for the conflict in Ukraine, and that the situation is now compounded by the risk of nuclear disaster.  Parties must refrain from attacks that could threaten the safety of nuclear facilities, and he called on both sides to facilitate an IAEA mission to evaluate the condition of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.  Noting that both reality and history demonstrate that closing the door to dialogue is not the right approach to resolving any conflict, he urged the parties to keep channels for dialogue open as this offers the best prospects for peace.  He added that both sides bear the obligation under international humanitarian law to protect the civilian population and prevent human-rights abuses, and that it is in everyone’s best interests that the two countries live peacefully, side-by-side, in the future.

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said military activity around nuclear facilities must cease and warring parties must refrain from any action that could put the world at risk of a nuclear catastrophe.  He called on parties to comply with nuclear safety rules and to cooperate with IAEA in securing potentially dangerous sites to prevent the risk of disaster.  Voicing his country’s opposition to the war and its outrage at the attacks on civilians, he underscored that parties to the conflict must respect their international commitments under international humanitarian law.  “For seven months, this Council has been plagued by unprecedented fragmentation and has been living with the invective of one camp against the other, while towns and villages are being ravaged, women, men and children are being scarred by a bloody war.  Our mandate is to stop wars, if not to prevent them,” he said, urging the Council to come together around its mandate and purpose.

MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) expressed regret that what should be a day of celebration is impaired by a war that has breached Ukraine’s territorial integrity and contravened the Charter of the United Nations.  Kenya will forever be thankful to those who fought for its freedom.  The country joined the United Nations within days of its independence, signing up to its principles.  “As a young nation, we needed assurance that our sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence would be respected,” he explained.  Kenya valued its mission to outlaw aggression and that it gave voice to even the smallest countries without regard to military might or wealth.  How intolerable that such a precious heritage should be as endangered as it is today.  He described multilateralism as the last hope against a new world war, emphasizing that “we have no desire to be drawn into a worldwide conflict.”  Kenya sees a grim warning it too may be engulfed by the confrontations fuelling the war, which is why Ukraine’s immediate fate is so important to the world.  Its sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence must be respected.  Unless the war is stopped through dialogue, it could be the first in a series of conflicts that historians term the “third world war”.  Indeed, the danger of conflict between nuclear Powers means that most of their confrontations would be undertaken by proxy, throwing countries like Kenya into “a mirror of the cold war that shattered our democracies… We cannot leave our fate to the most powerful.”  He called for intuitive, bold leadership from any and every country with influence to push the parties into dialogue.  He called for an immediate cessation of hostilities, the opening of safe humanitarian corridors, unhindered humanitarian access and the security of all nuclear facilities.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) said that, six months in, it is difficult to overstate the toll of the conflict in Ukraine.  While she welcomed agreements to facilitate the export of grain, food supplies and fertilizers to global markets, she stressed that this “rare example of tangible progress” cannot be the last.  The Charter of the United Nations provides a repertoire of tools with which to end conflict, but none are applicable in the absence of the political will to use them.  The war will only end through a negotiated settlement, and Council meetings on Ukraine have value when they are complemented with action to alleviate the suffering of civilians or to facilitate such negotiation.  Initiatives such as an IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant can serve as confidence-building measures that could unlock broader political discussion, she said, calling on leaders from both sides to commit to charting a path forward with the support of the international community.

CAROLYN ABENA ANIMA OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana) said that the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the agreement concerning access to world markets for Russian food products and fertilizers have proven that, with persistent diplomacy, an acceptable political solution could be found to the ongoing military hostilities in Ukraine.  She urged Council members to overcome their divisions and work to bring the weight of the organ’s authority to support such peace initiatives.  Expressing concern over the mounting death toll and destruction of economic infrastructure in Ukraine, she called on the parties to end the war and demilitarize the zones around the country’s nuclear facilities.  Further, international inspectors must be allowed access to these facilities in line with established norms.  Noting that any miscalculation could potentially result in a wider conflict in Europe, she urged all key actors to demonstrate maximum restraint and called on the Russian Federation to withdraw its invading troops and pursue diplomacy and dialogue to resolve its legitimate security concerns.

RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India) said her country just dispatched its twelfth humanitarian aid consignment to Ukraine, including haemostatic bandages to stem bleeding from deep wounds, a specific request from Kyiv.  Over the last six months, India has dispatched 11 consignments — 97.5 tons — of aid to Ukraine, as well as to Romania, the Republic of Moldova, Slovakia and Poland.  She called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and encouraged talks between the two sides.  Further, the ground situation calls for a sustained priority on humanitarian relief, she said, stressing that India places the highest priority on such requests and that these measures should never be politicized.  India will partner with countries to mitigate economic hardships, as the impact of the conflict is not limited to Europe, but rather exacerbating food, fertilizer and fuel security concerns.  Underscoring the importance of equity, affordability and accessibility in relation to food grains, she said that in the last three months, India has exported 1.8 million tons of wheat to Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan and Yemen, and is working to increase fertilizer production.  She advocated efforts to ensure that global fuel supplies are commensurate with demand.  “Open markets must not become an argument to perpetuate inequity and promote discrimination,” she affirmed, stressing that India will step forward whenever the global South is constrained on aspects of food, health and energy security in a manner that does not take undue advantage of countries in distress.

Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), noting that technical difficulties during President Zelenskyy’s statement made it difficult to make out what was said at certain points, said he hoped that his delegation’s position regarding the usefulness of Council guests’ in-person participation has become clearer as a result.  He recalled that the Council had gathered on 23 August in connection with a concrete threat to international peace and security — Kyiv’s ongoing bombing of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is putting Europe on the brink of a nuclear catastrophe.  Noting claims about the catastrophic consequences of six months of hostilities for Ukraine’s civilian population, he said responsibility lies with the Kyiv regime, which came to power in 2014 as a result of an anti-constitutional coup d’état carried out with the help of a number of Western States.  From the very beginning, the new Maidan authorities has been steadily leading the country to disaster, choosing Russophobia and the glorification of Nazi criminals.

He went on to say that Ukraine, in a senseless “crusade” against itself, lost Crimea and provoked armed resistance from the Donetsk and Luhansk residents. That war, which claimed civilian lives for eight years, could have ended if Kyiv had fulfilled the Minsk agreements.  “In order to establish peace in Donbass and prevent obvious threats to the Russian Federation emanating from Ukraine, we had no choice but to launch a special operation to de-Nazify and demilitarize Ukraine — the goals of which are being successfully and steadily fulfilled,” he said.  Criminal shelling of the “republics of Donbass” continues, he pointed out, stressing that Ukraine’s armed forces are purposefully destroying civilian infrastructure, including kindergartens, schools and medical facilities, power lines and gas pipelines.

He noted that the “so-called ‘Black Sea Initiative’” of the Secretary-General is considered a sort of “success story”, especially in terms of the unhindered export of food from Ukraine.  Only one out of 34 dry cargo ships went to Africa over four weeks of export operations, he pointed out, noting it as inconsistent with the stated goal of fighting hunger in the countries in dire need of grain.  The true cause of global food security issues is Western countries’ own economic miscalculations and the consequences of anti-Russian sanctions.  Sanctions ruptured logistical and financial chains, and in turn provoked a sharp decline in market supply.  He called on all those involved to take the “package” nature of the Black Sea Initiative seriously and not to postpone resolving the financial and logistical problems that impede the export of Russian food and fertilizers to the global market.

JUAN GÓMEZ ROBLEDO VERDUZCO (Mexico), while welcoming the continued, regular operation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, emphasized that the multilateral system — particularly the Security Council — has not been able to end the war in Ukraine.  The invasion of sovereign Ukraine by the Russian Federation is a flagrant violation of Article 2.4 of the Charter of the United Nations, and any territorial acquisition resulting from the illegal use of force is null and void.  The war must end, he stressed, after six months of bombings on hospitals, schools, residential areas and basic civilian infrastructure; of the destruction of cultural heritage; of violations of the methods and means of warfare; of violations of human rights, including sexual and gender-based violence; and of the use of indiscriminate weapons such as cluster munitions and mines.  He also expressed concern over the illicit flows of weapons in the region, underscoring the need to ensure that these weapons do not fall into the hands of those that should never have them, particularly once hostilities have concluded.

ZHANG JUN (China), Council President for August, speaking in his national capacity, said international humanitarian law should guide the conduct of parties to the conflict, stressing that civilians and civilian facilities cannot be the target of military strikes.  Noting recent frequent attacks on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, he called on all relevant parties to exercise restraint and refrain from any action that might compromise the safety and security of the nuclear facility.  IAEA must conduct a site visit to the power plant as soon as possible to make a professional and technical assessment of the situation and take measures to prevent a nuclear disaster.  He commended the Secretary-General’s and other parties’ efforts in facilitating the grain export agreement.  At the same time, removing barriers to export food and fertilizer from the Russian Federation is also highly important, he pointed out.  He hoped that the United Nations, in accordance with its memorandum of understanding with the Russian Federation, can help address the “chilling effect” caused by relevant countries’ abuse of sanctions and ensure the stable and smooth running of the global industrial and supply chains.

SILVIO GONZATO, European Union delegation, speaking in its observer capacity, said the war in Ukraine, now in its sixth month, provides a stark reminder that independence can never be taken for granted.  He vowed to support Ukraine “any way we can”, denouncing the Russian Federation’s continued violation of the Charter of the United Nations and disregard for the General Assembly resolution adopted in March by an overwhelming majority.  He also deplored its failure to abide by the International Court of Justice order to immediately cease its use of force, urging Moscow to comply with its obligations under international law.  The perpetrators of war crimes, and responsible Government officials, will be held accountable.  He said the Union supports all measures to ensure accountability for rights violations committed during the Russian aggression in Ukraine.  Moreover, “it is deplorable that we even need to say that a nuclear power plant should never be used as a military base,” he stressed.  He urged the Russian Federation to immediately withdraw its military forces and unauthorized personnel from the Zaporizhzhia plant, so the operator and Ukrainian authorities can resume their sovereign responsibilities within Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and so that the legitimate operating staff can conduct their duties without interference.  An IAEA team also must be allowed to access all nuclear facilities in Ukraine in a manner that respects that country’s full sovereignty and control over its infrastructure.  He welcomed the positive role played by the African Union in coming to an arrangement on the Black Sea Grain Initiative and highlighted the European Union “Solidarity Lanes” initiative aimed at boosting exports from Ukraine over land.

Source: United Nations

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