Amid New Allegations of Atrocities in Ukraine Regions Returned to Government Control, Political Affairs Chief Tells Security Council Accountability Remains Crucial
Delegates Condemn Iran’s Alleged Transfer of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Russian Federation, as Speaker for Kyiv Requests Scaled Up Aid, Protection
Accountability remains crucial as new allegations of atrocities have emerged in areas recently returned to Ukrainian Government control, a United Nations senior official told the Security Council today as members condemned the recent attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in the country.
Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, outlined that between 10 and 18 October, at least 38 Ukrainian civilians were reportedly killed and at least 117 injured by missile and drone attacks against cities and towns across the country. Expressing concern over the destruction of critical energy infrastructure such as power plants, she recalled that attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international humanitarian law.
“We are on a path of further escalation, which can only cause more suffering to the people of Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of the world. This trajectory must be reversed,” she said, underscoring that any further damage to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant could have catastrophic consequences. She further expressed concern over Moscow’s decision to introduce martial law in the regions of Ukraine that are or have been under the temporary military control of the Russian Federation, along with the announced evacuation in Kherson amid intensified fighting on the ground.
Denise Brown, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, reported that temperatures are plummeting in the country as winter approaches amid the devastation of the energy supply, telecommunications and transport infrastructure, affecting access to water, electricity, heat and the ability to communicate. She warned of an increased risk of even more deaths in the months ahead because civilians do not have access to essential services, expressing particular concern over people who cannot be reached in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia.
In the ensuing debate, many speakers condemned the alleged transfer of unmanned aerial vehicles from Iran to the Russian Federation in violation of Council resolution 2231 (2015), with the representative of Mexico stressing the need to adhere to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 without exceptions. The degree of sexual and gender-based violence and human trafficking in the conflict was spotlighted by many delegates, with Norway’s representative calling on parties at all levels to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law.
The representative of Ukraine, calling attention to the mass graves, illegal annexation of its territory and deliberate attacks on critical energy infrastructure as well as 51,412 civilian infrastructure facilities, urged the United Nations to ramp up its assistance and protection services as well as to provide Kyiv with power-generating equipment. Turning to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles of Iranian origin, he stressed that Tehran must face serious consequences for escalating the Russian Federation’s war of aggression and called for investigations to start immediately.
Echoing his point, Ireland’s delegate expressed concern over the use of Iranian-supplied unmanned aerial vehicles as their acquisition by Moscow contravenes Council resolution 2231 (2015). “The unconscionable attacks on civilian targets aim to intimate and terrorize the civilian population, represent a blatant disregard for human life and constitute a serious violation of international law,” he emphasized, adding that the aggressor must also be held accountable for the targeting of civilians, arbitrary detention, human trafficking and conflict-related violence.
In the same vein, the representative of the United States pointed out that there is publicly available documentation, including photographs and videos, of Mohajer and Shahed unmanned aerial vehicles being used against Ukraine, urging the United Nations to investigate any violations of the Council resolutions. Addressing the Council members that have never mentioned the Russian Federation, he asserted that “their calls for diplomacy only enabled Russia as it commits further abuses”.
As a refute to these allegations, the Russian Federation’s representative described the references to destroyed civilian infrastructure as “one-sided”, as they did not touch on damage inflicted by Kyiv in Donbas as well as acts of terror against a Crimean bridge and on the Zaporizhzhia power plant. If a “pseudo-investigation” takes place in this context, he warned, Moscow could reconsider its relations with the Secretariat, as it would have demonstrated itself as not being impartial.
Offering a different perspective, Kenya’s delegate called on States to open channels of communication and for the Council to accelerate its reforms, lest the war in Ukraine be remembered as the beginning of a third world war. “The present format will lose its relevance and be overtaken by competing multilateral arrangements,” he continued. He also emphasized the importance of adequate investments to ensure Africa’s self-sufficiency on food.
Touching on the recent exchange of prisoners between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, the representative of United Arab Emirates noted that while momentum towards broader negotiations is still lacking, these exchanges show the potential for positive outcomes, along with agreements on food and fertilizer exports. Compromise, diplomacy, and dialogue remain the only way forward to prevent further suffering, he stressed.
Also speaking today were representatives of France, China, India, Brazil, Ghana, United Kingdom, Albania, Gabon (in its national capacity), Slovakia, Germany, Poland and Greece, as well as the European Union in its capacity as Observer.
The meeting began at 3:06 p.m. and ended at 5:32 p.m.
ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that as of 18 October, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 15,956 civilian casualties in Ukraine: 6,322 killed and 9,634 injured since 24 February. Between 10 and 18 October, she added, at least 38 Ukrainian civilians were reportedly killed and at least 117 injured by missile and drone attacks against cities and towns across the country. Also expressing concern over the destruction of critical energy infrastructure such as power plants, she cited the Ukrainian Government’s report that 30 per cent of its energy facilities have been hit since 10 October, most notably in Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk, Lviv, Kharkiv and Sumy regions. Recalling that attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international humanitarian law, she deemed it essential that OHCHR be given complete and unimpeded access to all areas of Ukraine to continue its work.
Sharing the recent report submitted by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine to the General Assembly, she stated that there are reasonable grounds to conclude that war crimes and violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been committed in Ukraine since 24 February. The Commission stated that Russian troops were responsible for the vast majority of the violations identified, while Ukrainian forces have committed international humanitarian law violations in some cases, including two incidents that qualify as war crimes, she pointed out. “Accountability remains crucial as new allegations of atrocities have emerged in areas that have recently returned to Ukrainian Government control,” she emphasized.
Welcoming the recent announcement of an exchange of prisoners of war between Ukraine and the Russian Federation, in which 110 Russian captives were exchanged for 108 Ukrainians, she reiterated the Secretary-General’s appeal towards Moscow to grant full access to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to all prisoners of war, in accordance with international humanitarian law. Stressing that the Black Sea Grain Initiative has helped to bring down food prices and subsequently lower global food prices, with the total tonnage of grain and other foodstuffs exported reaching almost 8 million metric tons as of 19 October, she underscored the need to extend the initiative beyond November. It is equally critical that there be unimpeded access to Russian food and fertilizers, she added.
“We are on a path of further escalation, which can only cause more suffering to the people of Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of the world. This trajectory must be reversed,” she went on. Further stating that any suggestion of the possible use of nuclear or other non-conventional weapons only serves to further heighten tensions and could lead to a dangerous spiral, she underscored that any further damage to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant could have catastrophic consequences and therefore any military activity against, from or near the site must cease immediately.
Recalling that the General Assembly had stated that the referenda held in regions of Ukraine that are or have been under the temporary military control of the Russian Federation and the subsequent attempted illegal annexations of these regions have “no validity under international law and do not form the basis for any alteration of the status of these regions of Ukraine”, she expressed concern over Moscow’s decision to introduce martial law in the regions, combined with the announced evacuation in Kherson amid intensified fighting on the ground. Noting that the Assembly had also expressed support for the de-escalation of the current situation and a peaceful resolution of the conflict through political dialogue, negotiation, mediation and other peaceful means, she added that “an end to the war founded on international law and the Charter is the surest way to ensure that the tremendous suffering of civilians in Ukraine will cease.”
DENISE BROWN, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine, noted deaths and suffering of civilians, ravaged urban and rural areas, and total loss of livelihoods for millions are the impact of the war in Ukraine — now in its 239th day. During a recent visit to Mykolaiv oblast, the mayor told her that since 24 February, they have only had 33 days without explosions and air raid sirens. The sheer depth of the humanitarian catastrophe is staggering, with almost 18 million people — more than 40 per cent of the entire Ukrainian population — needing humanitarian assistance, some 14 million forced to flee their homes, including 6.2 million internally displaced, and nearly 7.7 million refugees. The United Nations Human Rights Office has recorded over 15,900 civilian casualties in Ukraine, including 6,300 killed — likely an underestimation.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), some 5.7 million school-aged children have been affected since the start of the war, including 3.6 million due to the closure of educational institutions. She noted the World Health Organization (WHO) says there have been over 630 verified attacks on health care, barring the sick from medicines and treatment. Temperatures are plummeting in Ukraine as winter approaches, after the devastation of the energy supply, telecommunications and transport infrastructure, affecting access to water, electricity, heat and the ability to communicate. She warned there is an increased risk of even more death in the months ahead because civilians do not have access to essential services. International humanitarian law is very clear, she stressed: attacks must never be directed against civilians or civilian objects and constant care must be taken to spare them.
Aid focus is now on household repairs and the provision of blankets, mattresses, clothes, food, generators for schools and much-needed thermal heating for hospitals, with more than 590 humanitarian partners now delivering critical assistance and protection countrywide, she said. She noted over 13 million people have been reached across the country, but in accessible areas of Kharkiv, Kherson and Donetsk, the threat of landmines and unexploded ordnance contamination hinders humanitarian operations. The Ministry of Health and WHO report that 10 million people will need psychosocial support due to the trauma from the war, including women and girls suffering sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence, children hearing warning sirens daily, families who have been separated, or people just trying to survive every day.
She expressed particular concern over people who cannot be reached in Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia. The consequences of not delivering assistance to the estimated millions of people in these areas are dire, particularly with the winter months already having arrived — and obstructions that leave the civilian population without the essentials to survive run contrary to this obligation. She noted the Flash Appeal has seen unprecedented donor support — more than $2.9 billion has been received against requirements of $4.3 billion for this year. This is second most-funded country-level appeal in United Nations history, only behind Yemen in 2019 at $3.6 billion. The Ukraine Humanitarian Fund has also received significant new funding with more than $230 million in contributions and pledges, she noted, and of that, $117 million has already been disbursed, including $20 million for local volunteer organizations.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said the figures of dead and wounded civilians in Ukraine will continue rising unless urgent action is taken. In light of the recent indiscriminate attacks against civilians and infrastructure, including those using unmanned aerial vehicles, which violate international humanitarian law, Mexico and France called for the meeting to discuss an analysis and solutions to the unfolding situation. He emphasized the need to adhere to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 without exceptions. Turning to the grave impacts on health services, with the WHO finding that there had been 630 recorded attacks against health-care systems, he stressed that the deliberate targeting of hospitals constitute war crimes and cannot go unpunished. Expressing alarm about cases of sexual and gender-based violence, he called for all such cases to be investigated and for effective redress provided to victims. Further, unfettered access to humanitarian assistance must be provided, and attacks against civilian infrastructure must cease. Turning to the issue of mines, which affect the safe operation of humanitarian assistance and pose challenges to agriculture, he called for urgent demining operations to be conducted. Moreover, the Black Sea Grain Initiative must be renewed to mitigate the conflict’s impact on global food security. He went on to repudiate the threat of use of nuclear weapons and expressed regret that no safely demilitarized zone has been formed around the Zaporizhzhia power plant, despite recommendations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and appeals from the Secretary-General. Mexico urges parties to urgently heed these appeals, he said.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) noted the Russian Federation has crossed a new threshold, pounding the cities of Ukraine indiscriminately for 10 days and deliberately choosing to strike civil infrastructure, in particular energy, in Kyiv, Sumy and Dnipro, and no longer even trying to conceal its crimes. By targeting civilians, Moscow is unabashedly violating international humanitarian law and the Charter of the United Nations, trying to terrorize and break the morale of the Ukrainian nation. It is banking on the suffering of civilians, including children. He urged Moscow to comply with international humanitarian law and to allow humanitarian actors access to civilian populations in the territories it claims to occupy, as well as to prisoners of war, including those placed in captivity in the Russian Federation. The abuses and destruction resulting from the aggression may constitute war crimes, and there will be no impunity for criminals. He called for the International Criminal Court to move forward quickly, going up the chain of accountability as far as it can. It is further well documented that the armed forces use Iranian drones in Ukraine, and the European Union yesterday adopted new sanctions against Iranian entities and individuals involved in the production and transfer of these drones. He called on Iran to immediately cease all forms of support for the war of aggression launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. He also condemned the complicity of Belarus, whose territory continues to be used for missile strikes. The General Assembly vote last week was final, he stressed: the Russian Federation is alone, and massively condemned by the international community.
MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya) expressed concern over the escalation in military activity and the persistent threats regarding the use of weapons of mass destruction. All nuclear installations, including the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, must be protected, he urged. As the continued intensification of the conflict only further undermines the prospects for peace and potentially gives way to the strengthening of armed alliances in preparation for a protracted war, he called for the immediate cessation of hostilities. United Nations agencies must be granted unhindered humanitarian access to those in need, he continued. Efforts to deploy emergency food and energy security mechanisms must be accompanied by efforts to transform food systems in food-insecure regions. To that end, there must be adequate investments to ensure Africa’s self-sufficiency on food. In pleading for the war in Ukraine to not be remembered as the beginning of a third world war, he called on States to open channels of communication and for the Council to accelerate reforms. The present format will lose its relevance and be overtaken by competing multilateral arrangements, he warned.
GENG SHUANG (China) called on all parties to comply with international humanitarian law. Nuclear power plants, energy pipelines, bridges and other critical infrastructure are of great importance to public safety and social stability, he said, while urging all parties to exercise restraint. He further called on the international community to continue to provide humanitarian assistance and help neighbouring countries in ensuring the proper resettlement of conflict-affected peoples. The international community must also maintain the interrupted operation of global food, energy and financial markets by removing obstacles to international, economic and trade cooperation. The implementation of indiscriminate sanctions will only accelerate the transmission of the crisis by pushing up international commodity prices and destabilizing the global and industrial supply chain, leaving developing countries especially exposed to its deleterious impacts, he cautioned. The past eight months have proven that sanctions, pressure, bloc confrontation and political isolation are not effective ways to resolve the crisis, he added. He then spotlighted his country’s six-point initiative on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, its international food security initiative and its emergency humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.
RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India), describing the recent reports of attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine as “deeply worrying”, noted that international principles and jurisprudence vest responsibility on parties to ensure that they are not targeted in situations of armed conflicts. Highlighting that all humanitarian aid and assistance must be primarily guided by the universal principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, he stressed that these measures must not be politicized. Pointing out that the conflict has exacerbated concerns over food, fertilizer and fuel security, particularly in the developing countries, he said that “open markets must not become an argument to perpetuate inequity and promote discrimination”. Expressing hope that the grain deal agreed in July will be implemented by all parties earnestly, he added that this alone may not be sufficient to address concerns over food insecurity. Hoping that the international community will continue to respond positively to the call for humanitarian assistance, he expressed support for calls urging for guarantees of safe passage to deliver essential humanitarian and medical supplies.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) noted that in just one week, a third of Ukraine’s power stations are reported to have been knocked off the electricity grid at a critical time, leaving people without gas for cooking and heating with winter approaching. The international community must step up its support, and to this end, his Government announced $100 million in humanitarian aid earlier this week. However, other parts of the world cannot be neglected, and the international community must ensure that those most in need globally do not become an afterthought. In Ukraine, access remains a major hurdle for humanitarian organizations, and those unable to escape the fighting, such as people with disabilities, the elderly, and the sick, have become vulnerable to shifting battle lines. He reiterated the call on all parties to abide by their obligations under international law to ensure the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, including energy infrastructure. Despite the deeply concerning developments, he noted some movement between the parties that has led to tangible, positive outcomes on concrete issues. While momentum towards broader negotiations is still lacking, prisoner exchanges show the potential for positive outcomes, and agreements on exporting of food and fertilizers were significant and positive steps. Compromise, diplomacy and dialogue remain the only way forward to prevent further suffering, he stressed.
JOÃO GENÉSIO DE ALMEIDA FILHO (Brazil) expressed regret over the continued suffering of Ukraine’s civilian population. There is no justification for the attacks perpetrated on civilian targets, he said, while noting the damage to the energy sector and its humanitarian impacts. The continuing reports of civilian casualties and attacks against civilian infrastructure attest to the need for opening channels of humanitarian dialogue, he stressed. Missile launches and drone strikes must be halted and unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance by those in need must be guaranteed by all parties. Turning to the Council’s collective response to the conflict, he noted the increased frustration with the perception of insufficient efforts to facilitate a peaceful solution. The Council should actively contribute to all possible efforts towards a ceasefire, which includes exploring the ideas which have already been circulated, he urged.
JEFFREY DELAURENTIS (United States) stressed that the Russian Federation has shown contempt for the Council since the beginning of its invasion. Pointing out that Iran has since August transferred Mohajer and Shahed unmanned aerial vehicles to Moscow, in violation of Council resolution 2231 (2015), he stated that these vehicles have been used in multiple attacks against Ukraine, including the massive barrage on 10 October that hit civilians and civilian infrastructure. Highlighting that there is significant publicly available documentation, including photographs and videos, of such vehicles being used against Ukraine, he urged the United Nations to investigate any violations of the Council resolutions. As a refute to “Russia’s false assertion” that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to captured foreign volunteers, he emphasized that Moscow’s obligations as a party to the Conventions and their first additional protocol apply to the detention and treatment of any individuals, including third-country volunteers. Addressing the Council members that have never mentioned the Russian Federation, he asserted that “their calls for diplomacy only enabled Russia as it commits further abuses”.
FERGAL MYTHEN (Ireland), in spotlighting the continued attacks on Ukraine’s critical civilian infrastructure including on hospitals and health-care facilities, said the Russian Federation has chosen the path of escalation. He expressed concern over the use of Iranian-supplied unmanned aerial vehicles as their acquisition by the Russian Federation contravenes Council resolution 2231 (2015). The unconscionable attacks on civilian targets aim to intimate and terrorize the civilian population, represent a blatant disregard for human life and constitute a serious violation of international law, he emphasized. The Russian Federation must comply with its obligations under international law and international humanitarian law, refrain from further escalation, prevent civilian casualties and damage to civilian infrastructure and facilitate lifesaving humanitarian access without delay. The Russian Federation must also be held accountable for the targeting of civilians, arbitrary detention, human trafficking and conflict-related violence. There must be timely, credible investigations which rigorously document evidence and support witnesses, victims and survivors, he said, while appealing to the Council to assert its responsibility.
KHALILAH HACKMAN (Ghana) noted too many people, especially women, children and the elderly, continue to suffer needlessly from the fighting that has engulfed many cities across Ukraine. The humanitarian statistics are indeed concerning, and it is also important to note the impact of the war on pre-existing humanitarian situations in other parts of the world where food aid is largely supplied from Ukraine. She called for the de-escalation of tensions and the intensification of diplomatic efforts to end the war now, rather than later, when the cost of reconciliation and reconstruction would be unbearable. Expressing gratitude for United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partners working under extremely difficult and dangerous operational circumstances, she welcomed the European Union announcement to provide Ukraine with humanitarian aid through the winter. As fighting intensifies, she called for new humanitarian corridors for the safe passage of civilians to areas of relative safety, recalling the success of the Mariupol evacuations. Condemning all human rights violations, she reiterated support for independent, transparent and thorough investigations of such violations, including conflict-related sexual violence. Apart from imposing severe hardships on the people, she warned that the deliberate destruction of energy infrastructure, water stations, hospitals, schools, ports and railroads all constitute gross violations of international law and the principles of international humanitarian law relating to armed conflict.
JAMES KARIUKI (United Kingdom), in noting the renewed campaign of drone and missile strikes across Ukraine as well as the egregious attacks on Ukrainian civilians’ way of life, emphasized the impact on Ukrainians as winter approaches. The intent behind these attacks is clear, he said. The Russian Federation is subjugating Ukraine by instilling fear and attacking civilians using weaponry obtained from Iran in violation of Council resolution 2231 (2015). As its illegal and immoral actions must end, he called on the Russian Federation to stop its disinformation, misdirection and accusations that the West is responsible for the Russian Federation’s atrocities. It must heed the calls of the international community; respect its obligations under international law; stop the attacks on civilians, energy infrastructure and health facilities; and end the war, he stressed.
MONA JUUL (Norway) said the briefers’ candid accounts leave no doubt about the devastation the war has brought upon the people of Ukraine, and affirmed that Norway will continue to stand with Ukraine and its people, against the Russian aggression, which is a gross violation of international law, and the United Nations Charter. She expressed alarm about the escalation and brutality of the recent seemingly deliberate Russian attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure, with missiles and drones, which have killed civilians and hit power facilities across the country. “These attacks have no military purpose”, she said, adding: “The aim seems to be to terrorize the population. They are illegal and may constitute war crimes.” On the human rights front, she expressed concern about sexual and gender-based violence and human trafficking, which women and children are particularly exposed to, calling for their return to be facilitated. Pointing out that inquiries by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has concluded that Russian armed forces have committed violations of human rights and international humanitarian law amounting to war crimes, she called for justice for all victims, for survivors to be cared for and for all those responsible to be held accountable. “But to stop these grotesque violations in the first place, this war must come to an end”, she stressed, calling on parties at all levels to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law, including through support for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in fulfilling their mandate.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) began his statement by expressing his puzzlement at the added value of including Slovakia, Poland and Greece in the meeting, stressing: “This is not a debate but a briefing.” He went on to characterize references to destroyed civilian infrastructure as “one-sided”, as they did not touch on such damage inflicted by Kyiv in Donbas, and acts of terror committed on a Crimean bridge and on the Zaporizhzhia power plant. Recalling statements that the meeting was called due to an intensification of air strikes by the Russian Federation, he said: “Let’s take a look”, and proceeded to describe attacks over the past two months by “the Ukrainian regime and their Western backers”, including some that employed “Ukrainian terrorist methods of sabotage”. Such methods “peaked” on the attack on a Crimean bridge, which permitted the delivery of essential supplies to the peninsula, on which four people died, he said, stating that the crime was openly savoured by Ukrainian officials, with one even implying their responsibility for this strike.
He went on to state that his country knows what Kyiv is capable of after 8 years in Donbas; therefore, it countered the “anti-people Zelensky regime” using high precision missile strikes and the use of Russian drones to target infrastructure. “This did not sit well with the West, who became hysterical”, he said, adding that plenty of cases exist on video of civilians and infrastructure targeted by the Ukrainian Defence Forces. Instead, he stressed, Ukraine and its Western backers are trying to publicize fake claims of violations of Council resolution 2231 (2015), taking issue with a letter disseminated by Germany, France and the United Kingdom today which appeals to the Secretariat in violation of Article 100 of the United Nations Charter.
“The United States went further, demanding an investigation, which the Secretariat has no authority to undertake”, he continued, calling the action outrageous. If such a “pseudo-investigation” takes place, the Russian Federation can reconsider its package of relations with the Secretariat, as it would have demonstrated itself to not be impartial, he warned. He went on to characterize the briefing as a smokescreen, which sought to portray Ukraine as “an innocent victim in constant need of military assistance”. He went on to enumerate military equipment given to Ukraine by the United States, France and Germany, and cited instances of such equipment being wielded on Donetsk and Luhansk, and indiscriminate artillery shelling taking place on Russian territories. He also touched on other provocations, including the targeting of a dam on the Karachunivske Reservoir, and the reckless attacks on the Zaporizhzhia power plant. Further, he said Kyiv was responsible for attacks on its own civilians seeking to save themselves, including in the instance of a ferry shelled on 20 October, in which the wounded and killed included journalists. Moreover, the Russian Federation has not yet received a list of Ukrainian victims in Bucha, he said, adding that Ukraine has no evidence to confirm what they claim happened there, while Western countries take their words at face value. He went on to state that he would prefer not to listen to the spiteful tirades from the Ukrainian regime, which takes a strange perverse pleasure in doing so, adding: “Regrettably, his outburst shows Kyiv’s lack of readiness for any type of dialogue, much less for a civilized one.”
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the Russian Federation’s attacks and targeting of key civilian infrastructure is another and higher level of cruelty. He urged the United Nations to verify that the drones used by the Russian Federation have been unlawfully imported from Iran in open breach of resolution 2231 (2015). What does the Russian Federation have to hide from an independent, impartial investigation as a routine exercise to examine evidence, he asked. Turning to the United Nations reports documenting patterns of summary executions, unlawful confinement, torture, ill-treatment, rape and other sexual violence, he said these monstrous atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity would one day be presented before a court. He then expressed concern over the formation of a new joint force between the Russian Federation and Belarus. Every denial regarding Ukraine had the exact opposite happening, he noted. In recalling the resounding response of the General Assembly, he called on the Russian Federation to end the war.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, noted the war in Ukraine is more and more deadly, with the humanitarian situation deteriorating, civilians and civilian infrastructure continue to be attacked and the use of unmanned war machines adding to the climate of terror. It is time for the Council to mobilize to put an end to the war, he stressed. Today, the international community is still taking an inventory of fears, atrocities and humanitarian distress, leaving every nation to side with one camp or the other, he noted. Silencing the guns is certainly the main aspiration of the Ukrainian people right now — the aspiration of all people plagued by the insecurity generated by war — and he called on the belligerents to respect international humanitarian law and Council resolutions. He further urged for a humanitarian truce in order to preserve access to drinking water, electricity, heating, medical care and the distribution of humanitarian aid, calling on the parties to engage in good faith negotiations to end this deadly war and achieve peaceful coexistence in the region.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), in expressing regret that the Council must listen to continued lies, said the Russian Federation will one day be removed from the Council altogether. In reminding the Council of the Russian Federation’s words that its military does not pose a threat to Ukraine’s peaceful civilians nor impact critical civilian infrastructure, he spotlighted the mass graves, illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory and deliberate attacks on critical energy infrastructure and 51,412 civilian infrastructure facilities. He urged the United Nations to ramp up its assistance and protection services and provide Ukraine with power-generating equipment. As every part of the Russian regime is soaked with blood and permeated by crime, it is not surprising, he observed, that the Russian Federation has chosen a new commander who is infamous for his bloodthirsty and criminal nature.
Russian terrorists, he continued, have mined the dam and aggregates of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, whose destruction would subject more than 80 settlements and hundreds of thousands of people to rapid flooding. There must be an international observation mission and the return of Ukrainian personnel to the power plant to prevent another act of terror and ensure immediate demining. Turning to the use of long-range unmanned aerial vehicles of Iranian origin, he called on States to stop the transfers of such vehicles, missiles and conventional arms. As Iran must face serious consequences for escalating the Russian Federation’s war of aggression, investigations should start immediately, he emphasized. The world must react preventively, he urged, to not let Kakhovka or another disaster happen.
MICHAL MLYNÁR (Slovakia) condemned the Russian Federation’s ongoing, unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine. In expressing concern over the humanitarian situation, he was appalled by innocent civilian deaths, attacks on critical infrastructure and the scale of sexual- and gender-based violence. The Russian Federation does not understand the phrase “enough is enough”, he said before noting the impact of energy infrastructure attacks on people’s access to water and heat. Turning to global food security, he called on the Russian Federation to enable the free and safe passage of agricultural delivery and shipping from Ukrainian ports. While no one can predict when the senseless war will end, reaching a truce and silencing the guns is not enough. Perpetrators cannot remain unpunished and must be brought to justice, he declared. In recognizing Ukraine as an independent, sovereign State with unquestionable territorial integrity, he urged the Russian Federation to fully implement the General Assembly resolution from 12 October.
ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany) said her country will continue to stand by the United Nations Charter wherever in the world it is breached and will continue to stand by Ukraine. Germany stands ready to support Ukraine in mitigating the devastation caused by the Russian Federation’s attacks, she affirmed, noting that next Tuesday Chancellor Scholz and President von der Leyen will host the “International Expert Conference on the Recovery, Reconstruction and Modernisation of Ukraine” in Berlin. The conference will galvanize international support for Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction, she added. The Russian Federation must change its course, fully respect the letter and spirit of the Charter and withdraw from Ukraine. Further, it must comply with the legally binding order of the International Court of Justice to immediately stop its military operations against Ukraine and withdraw.
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland) noted the recent Kremlin decisions on military mobilization and illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory, coupled with aggressive nuclear rhetoric and mass air strikes against civilian infrastructure, indicate that Moscow has chosen the path of escalation. The Russian Federation wants to intimidate the civilian population and to destroy Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, which is critical, especially in the winter period. Due to the Russian Federation bombings over 3.5 million people are left without a roof over their heads, and there is the further issue of mines deliberately left behind by its forces. Shelling civilians is a war crime, he stressed. Civilians must not be taken hostage. Russian Federation forces have committed horrific atrocities, and Poland will continue to work with international institutions and Ukraine to ensure that those responsible for these barbaric acts are held accountable. His country is now home to over 1.3 million refugees. Emphasizing that the whole tragedy is purely man-made, he said the Russian Federation bears full responsibility for all the destruction and loss of life. He noted 143 Member States strongly reaffirmed Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in its internationally recognized borders. This confirms without any doubt that no concessions are expected from Ukraine for peace to occur. He appealed to the members of the Council and the international community to increase pressure on Moscow to stop the war, enabling the international community to restore the shattered lives and livelihoods of Ukrainian people. “Give peace a chance,” he urged.
BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, stated that the Russian Federation must be held accountable for its violations of international humanitarian law, as evident in recent air attacks targeting critical infrastructure and terrorizing civilians in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities. He also condemned the clandestine transfer of combat drones by Tehran to Moscow in its aggression against Ukraine, adding that the damage to the country’s energy infrastructure creates major challenges in view of the upcoming winter. Stressing the importance of collecting, consolidating and analyzing evidence of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses, he expressed support towards measures to ensure accountability, including investigations by the International Criminal Court. “Responsibility extends to those who support the committed crimes — first Belarus, and now Iran,” he added. Highlighting that the deliberate destruction of Ukraine’s agricultural and transport infrastructure is causing global food supply chain disruptions, he showed support for the Secretary-General’s call to extend the Black Sea Grain Initiative beyond 19 November.
MARIA THEOFILI (Greece), aligning herself with the European Union, condemned the recent drone attacks as having far-reaching repercussions affecting vital civil infrastructure and leading to an inhumane, continuous and merciless shelling targeting innocent lives. Reiterating her country’s readiness to support the rebuilding of a maternity hospital destroyed by Russian shelling in Mariupol and to contribute to the reconstruction of Odessa, she further shared that it has worked for the promotion of the candidacy of the historic centre of Odessa for inscription on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage list. Highlighting that her Government has responded effectively to the needs of tens of thousands of Ukrainian citizens seeking refuge from the war, she shared that it has welcomed more than 75,000 refugees, including unaccompanied minors separated from their families. She added that Athens is engaged in the restoration of key ports and storage facilities in the north African region, thus facilitating the storage and transfer of Ukrainian grain across the continent.