Third Humanitarian Convoy under Way to Evacuate Civilians from Besieged Ukraine City, Secretary-General Tells Security Council
Members Hear Briefings on Humanitarian, Human Rights, Civil Society Situations
A third humanitarian operation is under way to evacuate civilians from the besieged city of Mariupol in war-torn Ukraine after two successful convoys saved nearly 500 people in that area, the United Nations chief told the Security Council today.
“We must continue to do all we can to get people out of these hellscapes,” Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized, as he briefed members of the 15‑member Council on his recent visits to the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
Recalling his meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow, he said that he stressed the imperative of enabling humanitarian access and evacuations from besieged areas — Mariupol, first and foremost. [Soon after the Secretary‑General strongly urged the opening of a safe and effective humanitarian corridor to allow civilians in the Azovstal plant to reach safety, he received confirmation of an agreement in principle, and his team immediately followed up with intense preparatory work with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as Russian and Ukrainian authorities].
He noted that the United Nations and the Red Cross are leading a humanitarian operation of great complexity — both politically and in terms of security. In the first operation, completed on 3 May, 101 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal plant alongside 59 more from a neighbouring area. In the second, concluded last night, more than 320 civilians were evacuated from the city of Mariupol and surrounding areas, he added.
“Throughout my travels, I did not mince words,” he emphasized, recalling that, in both Moscow and Kyiv, he repeated exactly what he had said in New York: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of its territorial integrity and of the Charter of the United Nations. It must end for the sake of the people of Ukraine, Russia and the entire world.”
Also briefing the Council was Martin Griffiths, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, who said the United Nations and its more than 217 humanitarian partners have scaled up at record speed, with more than 1,400 United Nations personnel deployed across Ukraine. They are operating out of eight hubs beyond Kyiv, with staff, warehouses and supplies in 30 locations, and reaching more than 4.1 million people with some form of assistance, he added.
The United Nations and its partners, he continued, are assisting and protecting displaced people and restoring basic services while also prepositioning supplies to forward operating bases and increasing preparedness in areas to which the war might shift next. They are also engaged “every single day” in pushing the parties for the movement of aid to civilians, or in negotiating to help civilians leave for safer places.
In a third briefing, Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said her office has recorded 6,731 civilian casualties since the Russian invasion began in late February. “We know the real figures are considerably higher,” she added, pointing out that most of those casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide effects in populated areas.
She reported that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is documenting the devastating consequences of the conflict on other human rights, including incidents of families shot as they tried to escape in convoys and the arbitrary detention and possible forced “disappearing” of civilians by Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups.
Furthermore, evidence of torture, ill-treatment and summary execution of prisoners of war committed by both parties is surfacing, she added. While affirming that her office is collecting evidence, she stressed that the only way to stop such horrors is for armed forces to fully respect their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
Bringing civil society’s voice to the Council, Tetiana Luzan, Advocacy Coordinator for the non-governmental organization Right to Protection, said the number of those internally displaced reached 7.7 million at the end of April, noting: “They all carry the same heavy burden of displacement.” The international community must ensure that those willing to return, or travel to other countries, have the possibility to do so, she emphasized.
Calling on the international community to help the Government of Ukraine establish and enforce appropriate investigative and prosecutorial measures, she stressed: “Each life is priceless, and relatives deserve to know the truth.” Furthermore, stateless persons and third‑country nationals previously finding refuge in Ukraine must also be protected alongside Ukrainian citizens, she said.
Council members and non-members also participated in the discussion.
Ukraine’s representative said the Russian Federation has fired more than 2,000 missiles at his country’s cities, most of which do not hit military targets. Moscow’s missile terrorism must be punished with stronger sanctions and increased military assistance to Ukraine, he emphasized. Pointing out that Russia is threatening his country’s food security by stealing grain supplies from temporarily occupied regions and attacking farming infrastructure, he said the Security Council’s inaction continues to irritate the international community and to create an atmosphere of impunity. The Council Chamber has “turned from a venue of diplomatic debates into a biological hazard site”, as the Russian Federation’s envoy leaves a trail of blood and the smell of smouldering corpses behind as he enters and exits the Chamber, he asserted.
The representative of the United States said the Russian Federation has repeatedly lied to the Council with a string of wild conspiracy theories and misinformation, noting “each falsehood has been more ridiculous than the last”. However, the truth is well-known, she reiterated: The Russian Federation is the only perpetrator of this war. “Russia alone started this war, and Russia alone can end it.”
Germany’s representative, noting that the world will soon commemorate the end of the Second World War unleashed by Nazi Germany, noted that, 77 years after that watershed moment, Russian propaganda is attempting to create an outrageous link between the heroic fighting of the Red Army then against the Nazi regime, and the Kremlin’s current aggression against Ukraine. “This utter nonsense is beyond cynicism,” she said, pointing out that the world can see how Russia’s attempt to “de-Nazify” and “liberate” Ukraine looks in pictures from Mariupol, Irpin and Bucha, which reveal atrocities and crimes against humanity.
The Russian Federation’s representative said that “Russophobia” has become prevalent in Ukraine, emphasizing that the special military operation began to liberate Donbas after all the crimes committed by the Kyiv regime and Russia’s warnings against them. Western countries dismissed Russia’s security concerns and assured of the purely defensive nature of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) while moving the bloc closer to Russia’s borders, he recalled, pointing out that the West arrogantly cast aside his country’s proposals for a global and indivisible security architecture. Westerners only needed Ukraine as an arena of confrontation with Russia, he added. The Secretary-General’s visits to Russia and Ukraine were presented by both the media and Western politicians in a completely distorted manner, giving the impression that Kyiv and the United Nations managed to “persuade” Russia to open a corridor for the evacuation of civilians from Azovstal, he said, pointing out that Russia opens the corridors regularly and they are open today.
China’s delegate emphasized that dialogue and negotiations are the only inevitable way to resolve disputes, stressing: “Delivering weapons will not deliver peace.” Basing one country’s security on the insecurity of others is not reasonable. Pointing out that repeated eastward expansion of NATO after the cold war not only failed to make Europe safer, he said it also sowed the seeds of conflict. China will never forget the 7 May 1999 NATO strike on its embassy in Yugoslavia, and will never allow history to repeat itself, he vowed, underlining: “The world does not need a new cold war.”
India’s representative was among the delegates who expressed grave concern about the broader regional and global implications of the conflict’s destabilizing effect, cautioning that skyrocketing oil prices, shortage of food grains and fertilizers, and challenges in food and energy security have had a disproportionate impact on developing countries.
In similar vein, Gabon’s delegate noted the increasing pressure on the global economy, including agriculture, warning that, if the war does not end, the countries already facing humanitarian emergencies might collapse, rendering ordinary people “collateral victims”.
Injecting a different perspective, Kenya’s representative cautioned that the unprecedented sanctions in response to the war are reshaping global development, food security and political stability, as global equity and debt markets seek to exit riskier emerging market economies. Investors are delaying or cancelling the investments needed to deliver sufficient jobs, he noted.
Poland’s Deputy Prime Minister said his country, a major host to refugees from Ukraine, will not cease either to deliver aid to that country or to be a reliable partner for all United Nations system entities involved in providing support. He highlighted the high-level International Donors’ Conference for Ukraine that Poland and Sweden are holding in Warsaw today.
Also speaking today were representatives of Albania, Mexico, France, Ghana, Brazil, Ireland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Norway, Greece, Latvia, Italy and Slovakia.
The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 6:13 p.m.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, gave a brief overview of his recent visit to the Russian Federation and Ukraine, where he met with President Vladimir V. Putin and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, respectively, on 26 and 28 April. He added that he also had discussions with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey in Ankara and President Andrzej Duda of Poland in Rzeszów. “Throughout my travels, I did not mince words,” he emphasized, recalling that, in both Moscow and Kyiv, he repeated exactly what he had said in New York: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of its territorial integrity and of the Charter of the United Nations. It must end for the sake of the people of Ukraine, Russia and the entire world.”
To President Putin, he stressed the imperative of enabling humanitarian access and evacuations from besieged areas — Mariupol, first and foremost. Soon after the Secretary-General strongly urged the opening of a safe and effective humanitarian corridor to allow civilians in the Azovstal plant to reach safety, he received confirmation of an agreement in principle, and his team immediately followed up with intense preparatory work with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as Russian and Ukrainian authorities. He said he was pleased to report some measure of success, noting that the United Nations and the Red Cross are leading a humanitarian operation of great complexity — both politically and in terms of security.
The operation began on 29 April and has required enormous coordination and advocacy with the Russian and Ukrainian authorities, he continued, noting that two safe-passage convoys have been successfully completed so far. In the first, completed on 3 May, 101 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal plant alongside 59 more from a neighbouring area, he said, adding that, in the second, concluded last night, more than 320 civilians were evacuated from the city of Mariupol and surrounding areas. A third operation is under way. He said that, so far, nearly 500 civilians found long-awaited relief after living under relentless shelling and scarce availability of water, food and sanitation. “We must continue to do all we can to get people out of these hellscapes,” he stressed.
He said that his meetings with President Putin and President Zelenskyy also focused on the crucial issue of global food security, noting that the war’s world‑wide implications were in full view during his subsequent travels in West Africa. He recalled that, in Senegal, Niger and Nigeria, he heard direct testimony from leaders and civil society on how the war is unleashing a food‑security crisis. “A meaningful solution to global food insecurity requires reintegrating Ukraine’s agricultural production and the food and fertilizer production of Russia and Belarus into world markets, despite the war,” he underlined. In addition, the war is setting in motion a crisis that is devastating global energy markets, disrupting financial systems and exacerbating extreme vulnerabilities for the developing world, he warned, explaining why he established the Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance to help countries face those challenges. “The war on Ukraine is senseless in its scope, ruthless in its dimensions and limitless in its potential for global harm,” he affirmed, stressing that the cycle of death, destruction, dislocation and disruption must stop.
MARTIN GRIFFITHS, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said the United Nations and its more than 217 humanitarian partners have scaled up at record speed, with more than 1,400 United Nations personnel deployed across Ukraine. They are operating out of eight hubs beyond Kyiv, with staff, warehouses and supplies in 30 locations, and reaching more than 4.1 million people with some form of assistance, he added. Explaining the main aspects of humanitarian response, he cited assistance to and protection of displaced people, and restoring the basic services necessary to survival. ICRC repaired basic water infrastructure in Irpin, just outside Kyiv, a short while ago, he recalled, explaining that was a key request by the authorities during his visit. Injecting cash aid allows civilians to choose what they need and offers a modicum of dignity. It helps to keep markets open and supply chains moving. This is a priority, with a plan to reach 1.3 million people with cash assistance by the end of May.
A second part of response is prepositioning supplies to forward operating bases and increasing preparedness in areas to which the war might shift next, he continued. Third is engagement, every single day, with parties to the conflict to push for the movement of aid to civilians in areas of active conflict, or to negotiate to help civilians leave for safer places. To date, five inter-agency aid convoys have reached some of the hardest-hit areas, he noted, describing them as a lifeline for the civilians encircled by fighting, bringing in much needed medical supplies, water, food rations, non-food-items, water repair systems and generators. On 2 May, more than 100 civilians were evacuated from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol, including women, children and older people, he said, adding that about 60 more people joined the convoy on the outskirts of Mariupol and were then able to move to safety.
“This was a truly exceptional operation,” he emphasized. “It showed us there is enough good will and common ground to work together to save lives.” Today, a third operation began, with the intention of evacuating more civilians from Mariupol and Azovstal, he said, adding: “We are finally seeing the fruits of our labour over these past many weeks,” he said, adding that efforts have been under way for some time to reach agreement on local ceasefires, pauses or windows of silence. The pauses upon which those latest operations depended have, in large part, held, he noted. At the same time, the United Nations and partners are exploring all options to reach more people in places where needs are greatest, he said, noting that the reverberations of this war are being felt worldwide. “We remain firmly committed to leaving no stone unturned”, he stressed.
MICHELLE BACHELET, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine continues to verify allegations of violations of international human rights law and of international humanitarian law in the context of the Russian Federation’s armed attack on Ukraine. “Many of these allegations concern violations that may amount to war crimes,” she stated, adding that “it pains me to say that all our concerns remain valid, and the situation keeps deteriorating”. Noting that today marks the seventy-first day of the escalation in hostilities, she said the already eight-year-long conflict is expanding to all regions of Ukraine. Reports of deadly incidents have become shockingly frequent, she added, noting that “there seems to be no end in sight to the daily reports of civilian deaths and injuries”. Quoting messages shared by residents of Mariupol about relatives who perished in the city, she said her Office has recorded 6,731 civilian casualties since 24 February.
“We know the real figures are considerably higher,” she continued, pointing out that most of those casualties were caused by the use of explosive weapons with wide effects in populated areas. She went on to say that her office is also documenting the devastating consequences of the conflict on other human rights, including incidents of families shot as they tried to escape in convoys and the arbitrary detention and possible forced disappearances of civilians by Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups. Furthermore, she added, evidence of torture, ill-treatment and summary execution of prisoners of war committed by both parties to the conflict is surfacing. While affirming that her office is collecting evidence, she stressed that the only way to stop such horrors is for armed forces to fully respect their obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
The international community cannot let the number of victims continue to rise, she continued, saying a one-day ceasefire would spare the lives of at least 50 civilians; prevent between 30 and 70 civilians from being injured and a dozen from being disabled; and allow several thousand civilians to safely leave areas in which they are currently trapped in hostilities. “More importantly, a ceasefire will show that the horror in Ukraine can be stopped.” Underlining that advocacy for accountability is a cornerstone of her office’s work, she said that, if the perpetrators of violations against civilians are brought to justice, potential perpetrators will think twice before unleashing similar unlawful attacks and creating new victims. Underscoring the crucial importance of national justice systems to that end, she called upon the parties to the conflict to investigate all violations allegedly committed by their armed forces.
TETIANA LUZAN, Advocacy Coordinator for the non-governmental organization Right to Protection, briefed on behalf of civil society, detailing efforts to support all Ukrainians who “are now beating as one big heart”. The war has lasted eight years, and at the end of April, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that the number of those internally displaced reached 7.7 million, she said, noting: “They all carry the same heavy burden of displacement.” Calling for their protection and urging the international community not to forget those forcibly displaced without documents or means of communication, she said the Russian Federation forcibly displaced more than 1 million people from Ukraine in the last two months. The international community must ensure that those willing to return, or travel to other countries, have the possibility to do so, she emphasized.
She went on to spotlight the growing number of civilians killed and injured, and the thousands whose destinies are unknown, calling on the international community to assist the Ukrainian Government in establishing and enforcing appropriate investigative and prosecutorial measures. “Each life is priceless, and relatives deserve to know the truth,” she stressed. Furthermore, those fleeing must not be overlooked, she said, adding that stateless persons and third‑country nationals previously finding refuge in Ukraine must be protected alongside Ukrainian citizens. She also underscored that the unprecedented destruction of civilian infrastructure requires solutions, and called upon Council members, international organizations and Governments “to support Ukrainians firmly in these dark times”.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), noting that some 1,200 bodies have been discovered around Kyiv so far, almost all civilians, killed by a bullet to the head, declared: “[The] Kremlin considered Ukrainians as brothers and yet is killing them […] When you kill your family, you are a monster.” He added: “When you cannot prevail on the battlefield, you resort to atrocities.” The more the Russian Federation struggles in the face of Ukraine’s resistance, the more the Kremlin’s rhetoric continues to escalate into the madman’s ideas of nuclear war, he said, describing nuclear sabre-rattling as “ignominious”. Leon Trotsky wrote that “the army is a copy of society and suffers from all its diseases, usually at a higher temperature”, he recalled. Emphasizing that no one wants to destroy Russia, he said that, if [the] Kremlin made bad choices, they can correct course by stopping the war and calling the troops home. Pretending that the most ardent anti-Semites are usually Jews, that Hitler had Jewish blood — which underlies a theory that Jews inflicted the Holocaust on themselves, just as Ukrainians are supposedly slaughtering their own people and destroying their own country — is neither black humour nor basic fake news, but part of the worst conspiracy-theory warfare, he said, marvelling: “When you have the top diplomat dwell on such disgracefulness, this is a terrible low coming from a dangerous high.” He went on to reject any idea of forcibly dividing Ukraine’s territory.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), recalling that a year ago, the Council unanimously adopted resolution 2573 (2021) — which requires that all parties to armed conflict abide fully by their obligations under international humanitarian law — said it is inadmissible that 186 attacks targeted hospitals and other health facilities, as well as the registered attacks against schools, dams, train stations, food-storage facilities, and homes in total disregard for international humanitarian law. He added that his delegation will closely follow the investigations announced by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. Mexico’s position has been unequivocal, he emphasized, calling for dialogue, a political solution, and above all, for putting people at the heart of the Council’s action. All States, having signed the Charter of the United Nations, should respect the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of States, he said, stressing that Ukraine cannot be an exception.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), noting that the Secretary-General’s recent visits to Kyiv and Moscow resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of civilians, welcomed that development, but questioned how many yet remain in Mariupol. He emphasized that the evacuation of civilians must continue in a safe, secure and voluntary way, in which evacuees can choose their destination. Condemning the Russian Federation’s continuing siege of that city and the indiscriminate strikes that hit Kyiv during the Secretary-General’s visit, he said the latter action reflects the low esteem in which that country holds the United Nations. He went on to note that civilians have no respite as the Russian Federation continues its bombing, its targeting of water infrastructure and its mining of fields to deny Ukrainians their means of survival. Against that backdrop, he called for urgent humanitarian access to those in Mariupol and other besieged cities, and on the Russian Federation to lift its blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, stressing: “War criminals will be held accountable.”
ZHANG JUN (China) welcomed the Secretary-General’s visit with the leaders of the Russian Federation and Ukraine and the subsequent successful evacuation of more than 300 civilians from Mariupol, while noting that the humanitarian crisis remains dire. Calling upon the parties to exercise maximum restraint and avoid hurting civilians or infrastructure, he urged them to establish, building on the Mariupol evacuation, a broader, more efficient coordination mechanism to minimize the conflict’s humanitarian impact. “Delivering weapons will not deliver peace,” he pointed out, emphasizing that dialogue and negotiations are the only, inevitable way to resolve disputes, and that basing one country’s security on the insecurity of others is not reasonable. He went on to state that repeated eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after the cold war not only failed to make Europe safer, but it also sowed the seeds of conflict. China will never forget the 7 May 1999 NATO strike on the its embassy in Yugoslavia, and will never allow history to repeat itself, he vowed, stressing: “The world does not need a new cold war.”
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), expressing regret at the resumption of heavy shelling and air strikes directed at the steel plant before all the people could be removed to safety, called for intensified efforts to secure the immediate evacuation of close 1,000 people, including children. He urged the parties to negotiate further humanitarian pauses and demilitarized humanitarian corridors in all besieged areas, saying he is concerned about growing reports of human rights violations and possible war crimes. Underlining the impact of the war on world food, energy and financial systems, he called upon the Security Council to facilitate an immediate and unconditional cessation of hostilities and to provide a forum to address the core geopolitical and security concerns of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, NATO and its allied countries.
MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya) expressed grave concern about the latest developments in Mariupol, Izium and Popasna, among other cities, including heavy shelling and air strikes. Public statements by the combatants and their allies suggest there is little respite from violence that civilians can look forward to, he said, pointing to the media’s repeated mentions of the possible use of nuclear weapons. Turning to food security challenges, particularly in the Global South, including Africa, he noted that the unprecedented sanctions in response to the war are reshaping global development, food security and political stability, as global equity and debt markets seek to exit riskier emerging market economies, and investors are delaying or cancelling the investments needed to deliver sufficient jobs. He went on to urge States to place more trust in the good offices of the Secretary-General, while welcoming his recent trip to the Russian Federation and Ukraine.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) emphasized that the utmost priority should be the immediate cessation of hostilities and the strengthening of diplomatic negotiations to find a lasting solution to the crisis. Brazil is concerned about the negative economic effects of the war for the world, especially in the form of higher food and energy prices, in addition to the human rights violations and humanitarian costs of the conflict, he said. Acknowledging the Secretary‑General’s recent visit to Moscow and Kyiv, he called on all parties to respect provisions regarding the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, including vulnerable groups, refugees and internally displaced people. To that end, Brazil has offered shelter to people fleeing the conflict and granted temporary visas and residency authorizations to those affected or displaced, he said.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said the Secretary-General’s recent visit to Moscow and Kyiv helped alleviate the suffering and to put arrangements in place for the evacuation of civilians from Mariupol. However, thousands still remain trapped and under siege, she noted, encouraging the parties to ensure safe passage and humanitarian access. Emphasizing that the parties must comply with international humanitarian law, including the obligation to limit attacks to military objectives, she condemned the horrific violations documented by the Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, including summary executions, conflict‑related sexual violence, arbitrary detentions and deportations, including of journalists, human rights defenders and civil society activists, enforced disappearances and torture of prisoners of war. All allegations of violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law must continue to be investigated and those responsible held to account, she stressed. “We know what we are dealing with; it cannot be dismissed as fake news.” Reiterating calls for the Russian Federation to comply with its obligations under international law, she said: “Stopping the war tonight could not undo what has been done. But, it would stop the slaughter, it would save lives.”
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that, unlike the previous presidency, he expects the United States to conduct business fairly, emphasizing that a Council President should not act in a national capacity. He noted that the maintenance of international peace and security and the protection of civilians do not fall under the purview of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). He went on to say there are people and countries who have long dreamed of turning Ukraine into a bridgehead for a war against Russia, and continue to flood the neighbouring country with weapons. They tried to create their own ideology based on the denial of everything Russian, he said, recalling that, during the independence years, a whole generation of Ukrainians were taught to hate Russia. “Russophobia” has become prevalent, he reiterated, adding that “you will not find anything similar” in relation to Ukraine and Ukrainians in Russia. Oles Buzina, a Ukrainian historian killed by the nationalists in 2015, rightly said that, with the collapse of the imperial, extreme nationalism, tinged with provincialism, begins to flourish. Ukraine is the most striking example of that, he asserted. Describing the conflict as a proxy war of the collective West against Russia, he said Western countries have frozen accounts belonging to his country in the amount of $300 billion.
He went on to point out that his delegation has been talking for eight years about the suffering of the people in Donbas, about shelling by Ukraine’s armed forces and nationalists, and about the deaths resulting from those attacks. After all the crimes committed by the Kyiv regime and Russia’s warnings against them, the special military operation began to liberate Donbas, he added. Western countries dismissed Russia’s security concerns and assured of the purely defensive nature of NATO while moving the bloc closer to Russia’s borders, and today, the West is already talking about the global alliance, including Asia, he pointed out. He said the Russian Federation put forward proposals for a global and indivisible security architecture, but the West arrogantly cast them aside, adding that Westerners only needed Ukraine as an arena of confrontation with Russia.
Warning that Kyiv should have no illusions, he said the West will not help Ukraine. Today, people live in a state of disinformation war, he said, adding that its target is Russia. The international community hears only one version of events, and nothing about Ukrainian provocations, such as in Bucha or Kramatorsk, he noted. The Secretary-General’s visit to Russia and Ukraine was presented by both the media and Western politicians in a completely distorted manner, giving the impression that Kyiv and the United Nations managed to “persuade” Russia to open a corridor for the evacuation civilians from Azovstal, he said. Russia opens the corridors regularly and they are open today, he pointed out, saying the problem is that the Azov militants use civilians as a “human shield”.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) said her delegation was encouraged by the recent progress regarding safe passage from Mariupol through coordinated action by the United Nations, authorities of both Ukraine and the Russian Federation, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. However, such initiatives do not alter the obligations of the parties to uphold international humanitarian law, she emphasized, welcoming the Secretary-General’s proposal of a contact group as a starting point and expressing hope to hear more details. Stressing the critical importance of increased humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and neighbouring countries hosting refugees, she said that, on 28 April, the United Arab Emirates dispatched a plane carrying 30 additional tons of food supplies to support refugees from Ukraine hosted by the Republic of Moldova.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) appealed to the belligerents to abide by international humanitarian law, emphasizing that civilian structures must never be targeted. It is essential to sustain ceasefires in order to keep humanitarian corridors open, he said. Noting that pressure is increasing on the economy, including on agriculture, he warned that, if the war does not end, the countries facing humanitarian emergencies might collapse, rendering ordinary people “collateral victims”. The solution can only be found through dialogue, he stressed.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said the first and clearest solution to end the suffering of civilians is for Russia to end its illegal war and withdraw its troops from Ukraine. She expressed deep concern that the war is supported by a propaganda campaign, including in the Security Council, designed to dehumanize and demonize Ukrainians by labelling them as neo-Nazis. “This hate speech is extremely dangerous,” she warned. “As we near the anniversary of the end of the Second World War, it disrespects the sacrifices of all of those Russians, Ukrainians and many other nationalities who fought to end true Nazism,” she said, noting that her country has announced a plan today to provide a further £45 million in humanitarian assistance.
MONA JUUL (Norway), welcoming the joint statement on freedom of expression, expressed alarmed at the humanitarian situation, including in Mariupol, and concern about the poor condition of many of the evacuees. He called for the voluntary safe passage out of the city for thousands of civilians and hundreds of wounded. Deeply worried that Russia’s intensified hostilities in eastern Ukraine will lead to new besiegement of entire cities and towns, she called upon Moscow to immediately end its relentless attacks on civilians and civil infrastructure. Ukrainian ports must be reopened to allow wheat and grain to reach those in need globally, she said, stressing that the war’s crippling impact on the food security of millions is unacceptable. There must be accountability for the sake of the victims, and all the people of Ukraine, she added.
T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) noted that his country has been consistently calling for a complete cessation of hostilities and for dialogue and diplomacy as the only way out. He strongly condemned the killing of civilians in Bucha and expressed support for an independent investigation. While welcoming the Secretary-General’s visit of to Moscow and Kyiv and his engagement with the leaders of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, he said the conflict is having a destabilizing effect with broader regional and global implications, pointing to skyrocketing oil prices, shortage of food grains and fertilizers, and challenges in food and energy security. That has had a disproportionate impact on developing countries, he noted. Calling for guarantees of safe passage for delivery of essential humanitarian and medical supplies, including through the establishment of humanitarian corridors, he emphasized that humanitarian action must never be politicized.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), Council President for May, spoke in her national capacity to point out that — while Russian forces may have abandoned their attempt to capture Kyiv — the Russian Federation continues to conduct missile strikes against the city and terrorize citizens across Ukraine. Moscow has violated the Charter of the United Nations, ignored global calls to cease its hostilities and continues to wage unprovoked war against its smaller neighbour, she emphasized. Furthermore, the Russian Federation has lied to the Council repeatedly with a wild string of conspiracy theories and misinformation, she said, noting “each falsehood has been more ridiculous than the last”. However, the truth is well-known: the Russian Federation is the only perpetrator of this war, she insisted. In light of that, it is hard to understand why some Council members continue to call on all parties to desist. “Let’s call a spade a spade,” she stressed, urging Council members to call explicitly on the Russian Federation to stop its aggression against Ukraine. “Russia alone started this war, and Russia alone can end it,” she reiterated.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) said that, while the recent evacuation in Mariupol demonstrated that international organizations can be effective, civilians remain in that city and the evacuation operation must continue. Noting that the Russian Federation has fired more than 2,000 missiles at Ukrainian cities, most of which do not hit military targets, but, rather, are intended to break Ukraine, he declared: “Ukraine is not afraid, and the world should not be afraid either.” Moscow’s missile terrorism must be punished with stronger sanctions and increased military assistance to Ukraine. He also pointed out that Moscow is threatening his country’s food security by stealing grain supplies from temporarily occupied regions and attacking grain silos, farming infrastructure and fertilizer stores. That harms not only Ukraine, but the entire world’s population, he pointed out, demanding that the Russian Federation cease its illicit theft of grain, unblock Ukraine’s ports and restore freedom of navigation.
He went on to note the approach of 9 May, saying it brings the threat of escalating provocations, and condemned the Russian Foreign Minister’s recent anti‑Semitic attacks, saying they demonstrate to the world that “Putin’s Russia is cultivating Russian supremacy and hatred of other peoples”. The Russian terrorist practice of shelling Ukrainian citizens with long-range missiles continues, he said, adding that the Security Council’s inaction and ability only to express deep concern continues to irritate the international community and create an atmosphere of impunity. The Council Chamber has “turned from a venue of diplomatic debates into a biological hazard site”, as the Russian envoy leaves a trail of blood and the smell of smouldering corpses behind as he enters and exits the room, he asserted. “Punishment is imminent,” he warned. “Milošević will not stay lonely for too long.”
PIOTR GLIŃSKI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Culture and National Heritage of Poland, said his country will not cease either to deliver aid to Ukraine or to be a reliable partner for all United Nations system entities involved in providing support. Emphasizing that the number of needy people, and the volume of assistance they require, grow with every day the Russian aggression continues, he highlighted the high-level International Donors’ Conference for Ukraine that Poland and Sweden are holding in Warsaw today. He went on to echo the Secretary-General’s description of the damage to multilateralism caused by the invasion of Ukraine as a “three-dimensional crisis”, pointing out its impact on global food, energy and financial security. The Russian Federation must stop the war and withdraw all its forces from Ukrainian territory, he stressed.
MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), noting her country’s particular interest in the Mariupol area — home to a centuries-long established Greek community of more than 120,000 — said the city now lies almost entirely destroyed. Greece has repeatedly called for an immediate ceasefire and the swift creation of humanitarian corridors, she said, adding that the recent evacuation — achieved through persistent United Nations efforts — demonstrated that, “when there is a will, there is a way”. Greece has already delivered multiple packages of needs-based, in-kind humanitarian aid to the suffering Ukrainian people and is welcoming thousands of refugees from that country, she stated, adding that it will support reconstruction in Mariupol and Odessa. She went on to say that, since there can be neither peace nor reconciliation without accountability, Greece will continue actively to raise the issue of Mariupol in all forums and to emphasize that war crimes be investigated thoroughly.
ANDREJS PILDEGOVIČS (Latvia), speaking on behalf of the Baltic States, called on the Russian Federation to immediately cease all hostilities and allow the safe evacuation of the civilians trapped in the Azovstal complex. All relevant United Nations entities should maintain focus on the situation of civilians affected by the Russian Federation’s aggression, he added. Moscow’s denials, deceptions, lies, disinformation, war propaganda, incitement of violence and dehumanizing language do not change the fact that it is committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and other violations of international humanitarian and international human rights law against civilians in Ukraine, he said, emphasizing: “Those directly responsible for these war crimes and violations on Ukrainian soil must be held accountable.” The Baltic States will continue their steadfast support for efforts to ensure independent investigations of such crimes, he said, recalling that they were among the first to refer the situation to the International Criminal Court. Noting that the shelling makes it almost impossible for Ukrainian farmers to sow, he said the Russian Federation is also blocking hundreds of ships filled with wheat in the Black Sea, with 20 million tons of grain from the 2021 harvest trapped inside Ukraine.
MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy) noted that the conflict is not only fuelling one of the most severe humanitarian crises in Europe since the Second World War, but also exacerbating a global food security crisis. Calling on the Russian Federation to ensure safe, rapid and unhindered access of humanitarian assistance, he also urged it to allow the export of crucial Ukrainian agricultural goods in order to alleviate the challenges faced by numerous States of the global South depending on those products. He went on to highlight that his country has transferred €110 million to Ukraine and announced a further loan of €200 million, as well as an additional €36 million in support of humanitarian activities in Ukraine and neighbouring countries.
MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia) said that, almost worse than the 6,635 civilian casualties — 3,238 deaths and 3,397 injuries — is the reason for them, condemning Moscow’s pretext for its “special military operation” — the de-Nazification and demilitarization of Ukraine. He denounced comments by Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov, who claimed that Adolf Hitler was part Jewish, as “particularly hideous” and confirmed his delegation’s efforts to counter the Russian Federation’s disinformation. As a neighbour, Slovakia is particularly alarmed by the refugee crisis, he said, noting that 394,000 refugees have entered his country. “We continue to stand in solidarity with them,” he emphasized, pointing out that Slovakia is among the largest donors per capita of military, humanitarian and financial assistance to Ukraine.
ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany) said the world will soon commemorate the end of the Second World War, unleashed by Nazi Germany. Seventy-seven years after that watershed moment, she noted, Russian propaganda is attempting to create an outrageous link between the heroic fighting of the Red Army then against the Nazi regime, and the Kremlin’s current aggression against Ukraine, on the premise that the latter is now a failed State that must be de-Nazified. “This utter nonsense is beyond cynicism,” she said, pointing out that the world can see how so-called Russian “liberation” looks in pictures from Mariupol, Irpin and Bucha, which reveal atrocities and crimes against humanity. “The perpetrators must be held accountable in accordance with international law,” she emphasized. To that end, Germany will contribute additional funding and the secondment of experts to the International Criminal Court, she said. Meanwhile, the Federal Public Prosecutor General has opened structural investigations, preparing the ground for war crime charges, she added. Expressing extreme concern about reports that the Russian parliament is planning to ease rules for the adoption of Ukrainian children, she said Germany will follow that ideologically motivated motion with extreme scrutiny and hold the Russian Federation accountable for its deeds. Germany is also strengthening its humanitarian response, especially through the World Food Programme (WFP), and will prioritize such issues on the agenda of the upcoming Group of Seven foreign, development and agricultural ministerial meetings, she pledged.