Amid Probable Atrocity Crimes, Ukraine Suffering Largest Human Displacement Crisis in World Today, Political Affairs Chief Tells Security Council
Delegates Condemn Attack on Kremenchuk Shopping Mall, Civilian Infrastructure
The President of Ukraine today called on the Security Council to immediately compel the Russian Federation from killing children and other civilians in his country, urging the adoption of a legal definition of “State terrorism”.
Addressing the Council via videoconference, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that although the United Nations does not have a legal definition for the term “terror State”, the war waged by Moscow displays the need to enshrine it legally and punish any such State. Citing events of the last 3 of the 125 days of aggression, he noted that on 25 June, 62 missiles hit Ukrainian cities, and on 26 June, one rocket hit a residential building in Kyiv, while another exploded in the yard of a kindergarten.
He underscored a 27 June strike on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, where, he said, Russian forces must have known they were hitting a civilian target. The United Nations should send a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, or an evidentiary commission to independently confirm the identify of those responsible. Although the Charter of the United Nations states that any member that violates its principles may be expelled, the Russian Federation is still not held to account. That country does not have the right to discuss and vote on the war in Ukraine, he stressed, urging Member States to strip it of its powers.
Moreover, the Charter allows for an international tribunal to investigate the Russian Federation’s actions on Ukrainian soil. The word genocide has repeatedly been used, he stressed, pointing to the events in Bucha and Mariupol — a city of 500,000 residents, now in ruins. He called on Council members to commemorate the tens of thousands of Ukrainians killed with a minute of silence.
Briefing the Council, Rosemary DiCarlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the depravity of the situation in Ukraine has only increased in the 10 weeks since she last briefed the Council. Recalling that the shopping centre in Kremenchuk was hit by what are reported to be Russian missiles, she said that 18 civilians were reportedly killed and another 59 injured, voicing concern that it was only the latest in a fresh wave of air strikes and missile attacks in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and other cities far from the frontlines.
“Civilians continue to pay too high a price in this war,” she underscored, reporting that as of 26 June, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had recorded more than 10,000 civilian casualties in Ukraine. The Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, which recently concluded its first mission to the country, received information and visited sites that “may support claims that serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, perhaps reaching war crimes and crimes against humanity, have been committed”, she added.
Given that at least 16 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance and protection services, a flash appeal, which runs through August, is being revised to cover needs through the end of 2022. Ukraine is suffering the largest human displacement crisis in the world today, with some 12 million people forced from their homes since the start of the conflict, she stressed, urging partners not to neglect the country’s long-term recovery and rebuilding needs.
In the ensuing discussion, many Council members called on the Russian Federation to end the war, condemning the strike on the Kremenchuk shopping centre, while the Russian Federation challenged the truthfulness of those accounts, arguing that they are fake.
The representative of the United States said that although the Russian Federation is expected to avoid responsibility for the tragedy, no one will be fooled. There is ample public evidence available to show that Moscow alone is responsible, and their attacks constitute war crimes. Pointing to the bombing of schools and hospitals, the killing of civilians waiting in line for water, and forced executions, he expressed support for all international investigations into those war crimes.
Mexico’s representative similarly voiced support for the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in his investigations into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine. Mediation and dialogue are urgently needed for a total ceasefire, he emphasized, adding it must be a priority of the Council. He also stressed that mechanisms are needed to mobilize grains, fertilizers and other commodities, which are being blocked from export and worsening the precarious food situation in other parts of the world.
Ghana’s representative, citing the conflict’s snowball effect on developing countries, said that, although the present situation casts a grim outlook, the international community must not lose hope of finding peace. Ongoing diplomatic efforts must be given an opportunity to succeed, she stressed, advocating for the urgent creation of demilitarized humanitarian corridors in all besieged areas, in compliance with international law.
The representative of the United Arab Emirates called for addressing humanitarian challenges and prioritizing an immediate cessation of hostilities. Encouraged by ongoing efforts aimed at allowing ships safe passage to and from key seaports, she stressed that the Security Council must do everything within its power to support those negotiations.
The representative of the Russian Federation expressed concern about President Zelenskyy’s participation in the meeting, stressing that no consultations were held with all Council members on that matter. Referring to various glaring inconsistencies in media accounts, he said that there was no strike on the shopping centre in Kremenchuk, adding that a video posted by Ukrainian bloggers shows that the goods inside the shopping centre were not affected by the blast.
“We have not carried out any strikes against civilian peaceful targets, nor have we ever done so,” he said, urging Member States to refer to eyewitness accounts and the opinions of military experts. On the other hand, the Kyiv regime is deliberately storing weapons in the very centre of cities, next to residential areas. His country began its special military operation to stop Ukraine’s shelling of Donbas and so that its nationalist leadership ceases to pose a threat to his country or to the inhabitants of the south and south- east of Ukraine. “Until those goals are achieved, our operation will continue,” he said.
China’s representative, stressing that dialogue is the only viable way to end hostilities, voiced support for direct negotiations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Sending weapons cannot bring about peace, nor can sanctions solve the security conundrum, he said, adding that attempts to weaponize the world economy and pressure countries into taking sides will only divide the international community. Moreover, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) must abandon its cold war mentality based on bloc confrontation.
Also speaking today were representatives of Albania, France, Brazil, United Kingdom, Ireland, Kenya, India, Gabon, Norway, Estonia (also on behalf of Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland.
The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 5:05 p.m.
ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the depravity of the situation in Ukraine has only increased in the 10 weeks since she last briefed the Security Council. It was on full display again on 27 June following a missile strike in Kremenchuk, in the central Poltava region. Hundreds of people — perhaps even some trying to get a respite from the daily horrors of the war — suffered one of the most shocking attacks of the conflict when a shopping centre was hit by what are reported to be Russian missiles. Eighteen civilians were reportedly killed and 59 were injured, but the final toll may be much higher.
Stressing that the incident should be investigated, she said it was only the latest in a fresh wave of airstrikes and missile attacks in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and other cities far from the frontlines, with many civilians killed or injured. The most intense fighting is currently in and around the towns of Sievierodonetsk, Lysychansk and Sloviansk, in Donbas. Heavy fighting is also being reported around the cities of Kharkiv and Kherson. “In scenes reminiscent of the World Wars, large-scale artillery duels are devastating industrial areas, with thousands of civilians forced to hide in basements or to flee for their lives,” she said, citing large-scale military casualties on both sides.
“Civilians continue to pay too high a price in this war,” she continued, reporting that as of 26 June, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had recorded more than 10,000 civilian casualties in Ukraine. Most were caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area. Noting that the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine recently concluded its first visiting mission to the country, she said it received information and visited sites that “may support claims that serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, perhaps reaching war crimes and crimes against humanity, have been committed”.
Emphasizing that such work “must lead to justice”, she went on to note that since 24 February more than 8.8 million people across Ukraine have received some form of humanitarian assistance and protection services. At least 16 million people are currently in need of such aid. Needs are increasing, and the flash appeal — which runs through August — is being revised to cover needs through the end of 2022. Women are facing particular hardships in accessing health care, safety and food, and they are increasingly becoming the heads of their households and leaders in their communities as men are conscripted. They must be included in formal decision-making processes related to humanitarian efforts, peacemaking and other areas that directly impact their lives.
She outlined perilous conditions which are hampering efforts by humanitarian partners to reach civilians, citing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report that 323 attacks on health-care facilities and personnel — resulting in 76 deaths — have been reported. Ukraine is also suffering the largest human displacement crisis in the world today, with more than one quarter of the country’s population — some 12 million people — forced from their homes since the start of the conflict. Over 5.2 million are estimated to now be refugees across Europe. She urged partners not to neglect Ukraine’s long-term recovery and rebuilding needs, spotlighting the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) new Resilience and Recovery Programme, which aims to support the Ukrainian Government’s emergency response, delivery of public services and efforts to keep the economy running.
She also noted with concern that the war is having devastating consequences not only on Ukraine and the immediate region, but far beyond its borders, exacerbating the greatest cost-of-living crisis in a generation. “Price shocks in the global food, energy and fertilizer markets are escalating in a world already grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change,” she said. Calling for strong political will and a comprehensive approach to those multiple threats, she emphasized that no country or community will be left untouched, declaring: “The cycle of death, destruction, dislocation and disruption must stop — for the sake of Ukraine, Russia and the entire world.”
VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, President of Ukraine, speaking via video teleconference, said that, as of now, the United Nations does not have a legal definition for the term “terror State” agreed upon by all Member States. However, the war waged by the Russian Federation displays not only the meaning of the concept but the urgent necessity to enshrine it legally and punish any such State. Citing events of the last 3 of the 125 days of aggression, he noted that on 25 June, 62 missiles hit Ukrainian cities, and on 26 June, one rocket hit a residential building in Kyiv, destroying three stories, with another exploding in the yard of a kindergarten. On 27 June, those who carried out the strike on Kremenchuk could not have been unaware they were hitting a shopping mall, killing 18 — with many more victims likely. He called for the United Nations to either send a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, or an evidentiary commission to independently confirm that this was a Russian Federation strike. Also on 27 June, that military launched rocket artillery on people lined up for water in Lysychansk, and killed nine people and wounded 29 in Kharkiv.
Naming victims, he stressed that they included a 3-month-old child. Turning to the “long-suffering Donbas that Russia has humiliated since 2014”, he asked: “Who of you does not agree that this is terrorism?” If, in any other part of the world, a country acted like the Russian Federation in killing Ukrainians, it would definitely be recognized as a terrorist, and would become the enemy of all humankind. The Charter of the United Nations, he noted, confers on the Council primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security, and that Article 6 of Chapter 2 states that any member that violates its principles may be expelled by the Assembly. However, the Russian Federation is still not held to account, remaining in United Nations agencies and enjoying the privileges of the seat of a permanent Member of the Council. That country, he stressed, does not have the right to discuss and vote on the war in Ukraine, which is unprovoked and colonialist, and urged Member States to deprive it of its powers.
He noted that Chapter 7 of the Charter allows for an international tribunal to investigate the Russian Federation’s actions on Ukrainian soil. The word genocide has repeatedly been used, he stressed, pointing to the events in Bucha and Mariupol — a city of 500,000 residents, now in ruins. With more than 4 months passed since the beginning of aggression, the international community must act urgently to compel Moscow and its military to stop killing children and other civilians — otherwise, it will turn upon other countries in Europe, Asia and the Baltic States. The Council could meet round the clock to discuss every terrorist act committed, he said, urging it to prevent that country from manipulating the United Nations, and adopt the legal definition of the notion “State terrorism”. He then called for Council members to commemorate the tens of thousands of Ukrainians killed with a minute of silence.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania), President of the Security Council for June, speaking in his national capacity, said the Russian Federation continues its massive assault on Ukraine, running against every human effort invested since the Second World War to build global peace through the rule of law. Although the Russian Federation continues to deny the targeting of civilians, overwhelming evidence proves the contrary, he said, stressing that those committing war crimes must pay for their actions. Moreover, zealous commentators of State propaganda “fill the air” with worst-case scenarios of deploying weapons of mass destruction. Pointing to the current food and insecurity crisis that continues to spread around the world, he said that millions of tons of grain are piled in Ukraine, and the Russian Federation is reportedly stealing it. The war is paralysing Ukraine; destroying its industry, roads, schools and health system; killing civilians; and destroying the fabric of its society. “International support for Ukraine and its people is a moral and solidarity issue. It is to choose to stand on the right side of the law, of rights, of life, of dignity,” he said.
RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States) said he was honoured by the presence of President Zelenskyy and expressed his deepest condolences to him and the people of Ukraine for the horrors they suffer each day, as well as the recent attack on the shopping centre in Kremenchuk. The United States stands united with Ukraine. This latest outrage is not unusual, but a pattern that the Kremlin has demonstrated as it tries to subjugate Ukraine. Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin keeps trying to divide Ukraine’s partners. The United States’ support for Ukraine is resolute. He said he expected the Russian Federation to obfuscate and avoid responsibility for this tragedy, stating that no one will be fooled. There is ample public evidence available to show that the Russian Federation alone is responsible, and their attacks constitute war crimes. There is the bombing of schools and hospitals, the killing of civilians waiting in line for water, forced executions. Council members should hold the Russian Federation responsible as should the international community as a whole. The United States supports all international investigations into these war crimes as well as the efforts of the Ukrainian authorities as they prepare to investigate these crimes. The world has said it is enough. The Russian Federation has started this war and only the Russia Federation can end the war by withdrawing from Ukraine, he concluded.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) strongly condemned the 27 June Russian Federation strike on a shopping centre in Kremenchuk, which, according to a provisional report, claimed at least 10 victims. In recent days, that army has deliberately targeted and shelled Ukrainian residential areas and areas far from combat zones, with a heavy toll in Kharkiv, Lysychansk and Kyiv. The Russian Federation continues to kill children, humanitarian personnel and journalists and destroy civilian infrastructure to demoralize the Ukrainian people — violating the most basic principles of international humanitarian law, having trampled on the Charter of the United Nations. War criminals will be brought to justice, he stressed, and his delegation will maintain the strongest possible pressure to compel Russian Federation authorities to end to this war, which threatens to push one fifth of the world’s population into poverty and food insecurity — and it is unacceptable for Moscow to use hunger as a political lever. He called for the blockade of Ukrainian ports in the Black Sea to be lifted to allow the export of foodstuffs, and for full, safe and unimpeded humanitarian access to be urgently guaranteed. Faced with the historic challenge represented by the return to war in Europe, the European Union has decided to grant Ukraine the status of candidate for membership, as its people are “fighting to defend our values, and those promoted by the Charter of the United Nations”, he said, noting that France has already mobilized $2 billion in economic and humanitarian support and will continue to stand alongside the Ukrainians.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) expressed deep concern about the air strikes on or near densely populated areas in Ukrainian cities, in particular the attack on Kremenchuk. Attacks against civilian objects encourage a perverse logic of retaliation. He urged the parties to allow an impartial investigation into these incidents and to refrain from actions that could result in increased civilian casualties. He also reiterated his call for parties to respect their obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international humanitarian law. Citizens must be protected in all circumstances, which entails the exercise of restraint by military forces and the establishment of mechanisms for evacuating areas directly impacted by operations. There is no alternative to a political solution, and he appealed for an immediate cessation of hostilities and the establishment of peace negotiations, without delay or preconditions. The Council is responsible for creating conditions for dialogue, he stressed, adding: “We should redouble efforts to seek solutions that favour peace negotiations and minimize the impacts of the conflict, both in Ukraine and in other affected regions.”
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said that in recent days the Russian Federation launched an intense barrage of cruise missile attacks at targets across Ukraine, some of which struck a shopping centre in Kremenchuk with over 1,000 people inside. “When the world calls for peace, dialogue and adherence to international law, Russia answers with escalation and the targeting of civilians,” she said, adding that it also deploys yet more war propaganda and disinformation. Also spotlighting the prominent role being played by Belarus as a direct staging post for Moscow’s attacks, she reiterated that Ukraine is entitled to defend itself, “as any of us would if our cities, towns and villages were subject to repeated, relentless missile strikes by a foreign army focused on wiping out our existence”. She once again called on the Russian Federation to end its illegal invasion, withdraw from Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and enter into dialogue and negotiation.
GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) pointed to reports of violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation in Ukraine, including the attack on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk full of civilians going about their ordinary lives. Parties to conflict must comply with international humanitarian law, including the obligation to distinguish between civilians and combatants and to attack only military objectives; the prohibitions against indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks; and the obligation to take all feasible precautions in attack, she reiterated. Turning to the human rights situation, she noted that the human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine has recorded over 10,000 civilian casualties, most of which have been caused by the use of explosive weapons, recognizing the important role of the ongoing investigation of the International Criminal Court in helping to pursue accountability for such violations. There must be full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for humanitarian personnel to reach civilians, including those who choose to remain in Ukraine and those who are unable to depart, she stressed, calling on the Russian Federation to end its war and to withdraw all forces unconditionally from the entirety of the sovereign territory of Ukraine
MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya) expressed solidarity with the people of Ukraine, “who are suffering the failure of the multilateral system” to help end the war. The reported intensification of missile strikes and shelling is having a worsening impact on civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure, in violation of international law. Condemning the disproportionate use of force, the use of human shields and the targeting of civilians and objects, he added that the blockade of Ukraine’s access to the Black Sea has disrupted the global food supply chain, worsening food insecurity - especially in conflict situations and fragile economies in the global South. With inflation surging and food and fuel prices spiking, the conflict is also undermining efforts to build back from the COVID-19 pandemic. In that context, he urged the parties to adhere to international humanitarian law and ensure the protection of civilians and to bring an immediate end to the war in a manner that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), reaffirming his delegation’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity, echoed expressions of concern over reports of intensified military bombardments in recent days. “While the present situation casts a grim outlook for peace, as purveyors of global peace and security, we cannot, and must not, lose hope of finding peace,” he stressed, citing the growing urgency of the situation and its snowballing effect on developing countries in particular. Ongoing diplomatic efforts must be given an opportunity to succeed, he said, welcoming positive steps that followed the Secretary-General’s visits to Kyiv and Moscow in April. He also called for an immediate cessation of military engagements in areas populated by civilians and advocated the urgent creation of demilitarized humanitarian corridors in all besieged areas, in compliance with international law.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico), condemning the deadly attack on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, said that such an attack is contrary to international law and international humanitarian law. He called for an independent investigation and voiced support for the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in his investigations into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine. He also called for safe and unrestricted access to all personnel providing humanitarian aid. One of the main premises of international humanitarian law is the principle of distinction; its main objectives is to avoid, whenever possible, the suffering of the civilian population or minimize the damage. Not respecting this principle is a blatant violation of international humanitarian law. Mediation and dialogue are urgently needed for a total ceasefire, he emphasized, adding it must be an urgent priority of the Council. Further, it is necessary to increase the humanitarian pauses that guarantee safe and voluntary evacuation of the population. He also stressed that mechanisms are needed to mobilize grains, fertilizers and other commodities which are being blocked from export and worsening the precarious food situation in other parts of the world.
DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) expressed concern about President Zelenskyy’s participation in the meeting, stressing that no consultations were held with all Council members on that matter. Representatives of States who wish to speak in the Council must be physically present in the Chamber, he added, underscoring that the organ must not be turned into a platform for a remote public relations campaign for President Zelenskyy to get more weapons from participants of the NATO Summit. Recalling that the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Central African Republic just a week ago was refused the opportunity to speak to the Council, he said it should not demonstrate double standards to serve the Ukrainian party and its Western backers.
He pointed out that from the beginning of his country’s special military operation, Ukrainian authorities’ true concern was on the information front, which they, together with their Western public relations propagandists and collaborators, took on with special zeal, adding that a count of all “Ukrainian fakes” disseminated thus far would be enough for a weighty tome. Pointing out the falsehoods in the legend about the Russian ship to which the defenders of the Snake Island allegedly refused to surrender and one about “The phantom of Kyiv”, he said that to Ukrainians and their Western handlers, what Western media was showing is what is important in the digital age, not what is happening on the ground. Referring to other glaring inconsistencies in the media, he said that at some point, reports accusing Ukrainian soldiers and nationalists of cruelty and war crimes began to multiply in social media.
He went on to say that there was no strike on the shopping centre in Kremenchuk, noting that a video posted by Ukrainian bloggers shows that the goods inside the shopping centre were not affected by the blast. Moreover, houses next to the mall were not damaged, and glass in windows remained intact. The Kyiv regime is deliberately storing weapons in the very centre of cities, next to residential areas, endangering the population. “We have not carried out any strikes against civilian peaceful targets, nor have we ever done so,” he said, urging Member States to refer to eyewitness accounts and the opinions of military experts. Moscow began its special military operation to stop the shelling of Donbas by Ukraine and so that its nationalist leadership ceases to pose a threat to the Russian Federation or to the inhabitants of the south and south-east of Ukraine. “Until those goals are achieved, our operation will continue,” he said.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India) reiterated his country’s calls for a complete cessation of hostilities and advocated a path of peace, dialogue and diplomacy. He also voiced his support for all efforts to alleviate the suffering of the people of Ukraine — especially talks between Ukraine and the Russian Federation — and noted his country has been sending humanitarian supplies to Ukraine and its neighbours. Noting that the issue of the protection of civilian objects in armed conflicts should be considered within the framework of applicable international law, he said the impact of the conflict is not limited to Europe, as it is worsening concerns over food, fertilizer and fuel security, particularly in developing countries. All countries must adequately appreciate the importance of equity, affordability and accessibility when it comes to food grains. To that end, open markets must not become an argument to perpetuate inequity and promote discrimination. As such, he welcomed the recommendation to exempt purchases of food by the World Food Programme (WFP) from food export restrictions, and outlined India’s financial and food assistance to countries including Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan and Yemen.
JUN ZHANG (China) said it is regrettable and worrying that the crisis is expanding and the humanitarian situation dire, with civilian casualties growing. Stressing that dialogue is the only viable way to end hostilities, he voiced support for direct negotiations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, also welcoming the Secretary-General’s good offices on the issue of grain exports, among others. The international community must avoid contrary actions, with all parties working in concert for peace talks. Facts illustrate that sending weapons cannot bring about peace, nor can sanctions solve the security conundrum, he said, while attempts to weaponize the world economy and pressure countries into taking sides will only divide the international community. The Ukraine crisis has once again sounded the alarm for the world that security is indivisible, he observed: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) eastward expansions have not only failed to make Europe secure, but sowed seeds of conflict — a lesson worthy of reflection. NATO must abandon its cold war mentality based on bloc confrontation, he said, expressing concern over the organization’s strategic adjustments. While NATO leaders recently painted other States as a threat, he stressed the organization itself is the cause of trouble, condemning its involvement in the Asia-Pacific region. “Any attempt to go against the tide of history is doomed to fail,” he stressed.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), calling the images in Kremenchuk of a shopping mall engulfed in flames “horrifying”, said that the fact that the war in Ukraine has so greatly affected heavily urbanized areas only underlines the imperative of applying the principles outlined in the Council’s framework on the protection of civilians and civilian objects. Almost two months have passed since the Council adopted a presidential statement. Yet the war in Ukraine has continued to escalate. The Charter outlines many of the tools that can be deployed to reach a peaceful settlement. But knowing that the tools exist is not enough. The talk needs to be walked. Now is the time to have an actual dialogue on humanitarian challenges and to prioritize an immediate cessation of hostilities. Further, a food catastrophe must be avoided. Specifically, there needs to be a solution to export the grain and fertilizer that are critical to food systems around the world. Encouraged by the ongoing efforts aimed at allowing ships safe passage to and from key seaports, including Odessa, she stressed that the Security Council must do everything within its power to support these negotiations. “We need to redouble our efforts to achieve peace and end this human suffering,” she emphasized.
EDWIGE KOUMBY MISSAMBO (Gabon) said the serious humanitarian crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine must be stemmed, as too many civilians have paid with their lives, with millions, mainly women and children, forced to flee combat areas. The humanitarian situation is worsening with bombardments, the destruction of means of production and distribution, and disruption of value chains, while outside Ukraine, the war is exacerbating food insecurity with the spectre of famine rising. However, “there is still time to avoid chaos,” she stressed, and the parties must reach consensus to export the tons of wheat held up in Ukrainian ports. She welcomed the actions taken by the African Union, as many farmers, especially on her continent, are waiting for agricultural fertilizers for their crops. The parties to the conflict must respect their commitments under international humanitarian law, refrain from any use of weapons of mass destruction and do their utmost to facilitate unimpeded and secure access for humanitarian aid. Condemning the artillery fire targeting a shopping centre in central Ukraine on 27 June, she stressed that the international community has the means to bring the protagonists to the discussion table to engage in good faith and called for the cessation of hostilities for peaceful coexistence.
MONA JUUL (Norway) reiterated that the Russian Federation war is and of itself a violation of international law. The United Nations Charter is clear on the illegality of acquisition of territory by force. She called for that country to stop its illegal attack on Ukraine immediately. Condemning all violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, she also called for the Russian Federation to stop the indiscriminate killing of civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine. Targeting of residential areas, such as the shopping mall in Kremenchuk, are unacceptable. The urban warfare on Ukrainian cities is causing immense suffering, she said, adding that international law is clear that civilians must be protected and all necessary measures be taken to avoid civilian casualties. She also condemned Belarus for facilitating the Russian Federation’s attacks on Ukraine. Further, she stressed that all violations of international law cannot go unchallenged and must be investigated, with perpetrators being brought to justice. The war continues inflicting terrible harm on the civilian population; it is undermining prospects for international peace and security. “In Ukraine, the best way to protect civilians is clear; it is for Russia to end this war,” she said.
Ms. WOODWARD (United Kingdom), taking the floor again, said the representative of the Russian Federation can try to claim that nothing is true and make outrageous claims of Ukrainian provocations. However, the undeniable fact is that Russian forces are in Ukraine and there are no Ukrainian forces in the Russian Federation. There is one aggressor here. The evidence will catch up with them and there will be accountability for those crimes.
Mr. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation), also taking the floor again, said that such statements sound very convincing coming from the representative of a country that brought the world such provocations, referring to names of cases and other incidents that will go down in history books as glaring provocations and “false flag” operations. “Please keep that in mind next time you try to teach us lessons,” he said.
KRISTEL LÕUK (Estonia) decried the Russian Federation’s “colonial, neo-imperialist, expansionist war against Ukraine, amplified by the obscene, dehumanizing disinformation campaign against Ukraine” and its right to exist. The Council must urgently perform its duties to stop the unfolding catastrophe, she said, noting Moscow’s remorseless efforts to terrorize civilians. The shelling of a crowded shopping centre in Kremenchuk had no justification whatsoever, other than to kill, injure and cause extensive human suffering in order to break the spirit of Ukrainian people. Such systematic violations of humanitarian and human rights law amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, and possibly even genocide, she said, urging the international community to spare no effort in holding perpetrators to account — including through the work of the International Criminal Court, the Human Rights Council and the Moscow Mechanism of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). She also voiced concern over Moscow’s dangerous and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and its attempts to weaponize food shortages and global hunger for its own purposes.
MATEUSZ SAKOWICZ (Poland), said that, irrespectively of what the Russian Federation representative said, that country is waging a total war against Ukraine. Spotlighting the attacks on 27 June in Kremenchuk, he said that Russian forces have fired over 130 missiles on Ukrainian cities hitting objects of no military significance. Moscow wants to cause large human losses, terrorize the civilian population and disrupt the functioning of infrastructure catering to everyday needs of ordinary Ukrainians. A permanent member of the Security Council, the Russian Federation has been entrusted with the responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security. However, that country is not only failing to fulfil its basic responsibilities but is acting as an aggressor, in blatant disregard for the United Nations and the foundational rules the international peace and security mechanisms have been built on. Further, Belarus, since 24 February, has been actively facilitating Moscow’s military action by making its airspace, territory and infrastructure available to Russian troops. If not for Minsk’s support, the Russian Federation’s aggression would have been limited. Thus, Belarusian leadership should be considered complicit of crimes committed in Ukraine, he said, calling for the Russian Federation to stop the war and withdraw its troops from Ukraine.