Senior Official Warns Security Council of ‘Catastrophic Spillover’, as Death, Destruction in Ukraine Conflict Keeps Growing
Speakers Reiterate Russian Federation’s Responsibility for War
Any further escalation must be prevented to avoid a potentially catastrophic spillover of the war in Ukraine, a United Nations senior official told the Security Council today, a day after an explosion that killed two people in Poland near the Ukrainian border, as speakers underscored the Russian Federation’s full responsibility for the war.
Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that, in the past few days, Ukrainians have been subjected to some of the most intense bombardments of the nine-month-old war. Russian Federation missiles and drones have rained down on Kyiv and many other cities in the country, destroying or damaging homes and severely disrupting critical services, she said, warning that the impact of such attacks can only worsen during the coming winter months.
She reported that, as of 14 November, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 16,631 civilian casualties, totalling 6,557 persons killed and 10,074 injured since the start of the aggression. Voicing concern about the loss of electricity, hampered humanitarian efforts, allegations of atrocities and human rights violations and a looming food crisis, she said: “There is only one way to stop the death, destruction and division. The war must end.”
Warning that there is no end in sight to the war, she said: “As long as it continues, the risks of potentially catastrophic spillover remain all too real.” The incident in Poland near the Ukrainian border on 15 November is a reminder of the absolute need to prevent any further escalation, she added.
In the ensuing debate, speakers called once again on the Russian Federation to immediately cease hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukraine. Pointing to the conflict’s alarming consequences, they also urged unimpeded humanitarian access to civilians, as well as the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative.
The United Arab Emirates’ representative said the 15 November incident — which remains under investigation — was an unnerving warning of the inherent risks of the war’s continuation. “This cannot be the new normal,” she stressed, urging the Council to support any effort at talks and focus on measures that bring the sides together rather than further apart.
The United States’ representative said the incident never should have happened but for the Russian Federation’s needless invasion of Ukraine and its recent missile assaults against civilian infrastructure. Ukraine has every right to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, she said, adding: “If Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends.”
The Russian Federation’s representative, rejecting that view, said that, if the West had not interfered and not supplied Ukraine with weapons and ammunition, but instead encouraged the Ukrainian leadership to make peace on realistic terms, then Moscow would not have had to carry out precision strikes on infrastructure in order to weaken Ukraine’s military potential.
Mexico’s representative, among other things, focussed on the humanitarian situation. If living conditions keep deteriorating, there will be a new wave of displacements, he warned, adding that the conflict is also having severe mental health consequences.
Poland’s representative said two Polish citizens lost their lives from the explosion of a missile five kilometres from the Polish-Ukrainian border. Poland, acting with full restraint and responsibility, immediately launched an investigation, with initial findings supporting the hypothesis that the event was not a deliberate attack. Consultations between Poland and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and key partners are continuing. However, notwithstanding the outcome of the investigation, the Russian Federation is responsible for menacing the world with its war of aggression and spill-over effects, he said.
Ukraine’s representative, on that point, said that, as temperatures drop in his country, “these terrorists” are aiming to deprive Ukrainians of electricity, water and heating by targeting civilian infrastructure in at least 11 regions. The Russian Federation must immediately withdraw all its fighters from the vicinity of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and transfer control of that facility to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Ukrainian personnel, he added. Highlighting that 400 Russian Federation war crimes have already been documented, he said that, with the courage of the Ukrainian army, the commitment of the Ukrainian people and international solidarity, the Russian Federation will be stopped.
Also speaking today were representatives of Albania, France, United Kingdom, Kenya, India, Gabon, Ireland, Brazil, China, Norway, Ghana, Estonia and Slovakia, as well as the European Union in its capacity as observer.
The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 5:23 p.m.
ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that in the past few days, Ukrainians have been subjected to some of the most intense bombardments of the nine-month-old war. Russian Federation missiles and drones have rained down on Kyiv, Mykolaiv, Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv, Lviv, Poltava and elsewhere, destroying or damaging homes and severely disrupting critical services, she said, warning that the impact of such attacks can only worsen during the coming winter months. As of 14 November, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 16,631 civilian casualties: 6,557 persons killed and 10,074 injured since the start of the invasion. Attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international humanitarian law, she noted. Meanwhile, the military dynamics on the ground are evolving, with Kherson returning to Government control, but heavy fighting continuing in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. “Indeed, there is no end in sight to the war. As long as it continues, the risks of potentially catastrophic spillover remain all too real,” she said, emphasizing that the incident in Poland near the Ukrainian border on 15 November is a reminder of the absolute need to prevent any further escalation.
The ongoing bombardment of Ukraine has already damaged an estimated 40 per cent of the country’s power-generation capacity, she said, with most parts of Kyiv, which has been hit hardest, now without electricity for 12 hours a day. As the Government focuses on repairing damaged infrastructure, the United Nations is making it a priority to ensure that the most vulnerable receive winter supplies and services. More than 185,000 people have already received essential basic winter supplies, humanitarian partners are setting up “heating points” near front lines and 525 generators have been or will be distributed to hospitals, clinics, collective centres and other priority institutions. Humanitarian access has resumed in the areas back under Government control, including in Kherson, but it remains extremely difficult to reach people in need in Russian Federation‑controlled areas of the east and south and across the front line. Landmines, particularly close to the front or where control has recently shifted, are putting more lives at risk, impeding the movement of civilians and hampering humanitarian efforts. Parties are required by international humanitarian law to facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for all civilians in need, she stressed.
The allegations of atrocities and human rights violations in Ukraine during this war are extensive, she continued, highlighting that more than 400 children have been killed, and many more injured, lost their family members or forced to leave their homes. According to the Government portal “Children of War”, 279 children were considered missing as of 12 November, she said, adding that there are disturbing reports of forced transfers of children, including of some under institutionalized care, to Russian Federation-occupied territory or to the Russian Federation. OHCHR has documented several individual cases, including those involving unaccompanied children, that appear to amount to deportations to the Russian Federation, in violation of international humanitarian law. Moreover, among the 57 cases of conflict-related sexual violence verified by OHCHR, 48 are attributable to Russian armed forces and affiliated groups and nine to Ukrainian armed forces and law enforcement authorities. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine is planning another visit to the country before the end of the year. She welcomed the continued prisoner exchanges between the Russian Federation and Ukraine, encouraged the continued release of prisoners of war, and called on the parties to ensure humane treatment of prisoners of war. She further called on the Russian Federation to grant OHCHR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) unimpeded access to detainees.
The extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative remains vital to help avert a food crisis for millions of people, she said, noting that more than 10 million metric tons of foodstuffs have now been moved under the Initiative, reaching, or on the way to, some 40 countries. The impact of the Initiative extends far beyond immediate ports of arrival, helping to lower global prices for key food commodities around the world. The Secretary-General has continued to engage with all parties in support of the renewal and full implementation of the Initiative and is committed to removing remaining obstacles to Russian Federation food and fertilizer exports. Those products are not under international sanctions but suffer indirect impacts, she pointed out, stressing that it is critical to get them back to world markets ‑ “the sooner, the better”.
The risk of a nuclear incident in the context of the open hostilities in Ukraine remains an unacceptable danger, she said, echoing the concerns expressed by several Member States in that regard. In the coming weeks, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will send nuclear safety and security missions to three more operating nuclear power plants, as well as to Chernobyl, at the request of the Government of Ukraine. She reiterated the imperative to avoid any military activity that could risk compromising the safety and security of any nuclear facility.
“One significant casualty of the war has been the international collective security system we have all pledged to uphold,” she said, noting that the significant damage to the structures built to resolve or manage conflict has made it more difficult to chart a path out of the hostilities in Ukraine. “There is only one way to stop the death, destruction and division. The war must end. And it must end in line with international law and the UN Charter, as called for by the UN General Assembly,” she said.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), noting the tragic explosion that killed two people in Poland near the Ukrainian border, affirmed her country’s assistance in investigating the incident. Although not all the facts are known, one thing is clear: this tragedy would never have happened but for the Russian Federation’s needless invasion of Ukraine and its recent missile assaults against civilian infrastructure. Ukraine has every right to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, she said, highlighting the recent widest-scale missile attack on Ukraine since the beginning of the war. The actions of the Russian Federation are “a deliberate tactic by Putin”, she noted, observing that it seemed he decided that, if he cannot seize Ukraine by force, he will try to freeze the country into submission. She also recalled that, during her trip to Ukraine, she had had to announced more humanitarian funding in the dark due to a blackout caused by Russian Federation attacks. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy seeks a just peace based on the Charter of the United Nations and its principles, she stressed, adding: “If Russia stops fighting, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends.” Turning to the global security crisis, she underlined the importance of securing the extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, which has helped stabilize food markets and enabled prices to fall to pre-war levels. Pointing out that two thirds of the wheat exported under the Initiative went to the Global South, she called on the Council members to “keep the deal alive”.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said that, while nine months is the period humans need to bring a baby to life, the Russian Federation has used it to make a disaster of terrible proportion. The missile that landed at a farm in Poland, killing two people, landed roughly at the same time as a barrage of Russian missiles that attacked Western Ukraine. “As long as the war goes on, we run the risk of spillover, by accident or intention,” he said, welcoming the 10‑point peace plan presented by the President of Ukraine at the Group of 20 Summit. Noting the Russian Federation’s decision to withdraw its troops from Kherson, he said that “no one, including in Russia, is buying anymore the camouflaged language”. He also called for extending the Black Sea Grain Initiative beyond 22 November.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), condemning the Russian Federation’s new campaign of strikes against Ukrainian cities and reaffirming its support for Ukraine, expressed solidarity with Poland and extended his condolences to the two victims. The Russian Federation alone bears full responsibility for the war, he said, underlining that Ukraine is only exercising its strict right to defend itself. He also pointed out that the Russian Federation is seeking to plunge Ukraine into cold and darkness as winter approaches and is not hesitating to exploit food insecurity and malnutrition. After first suspending its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative for a few days, that country is now seeking to monetize the renewal of that agreement. This blackmail is intolerable, he stressed. Everything must be done to ensure that Ukrainian grain exports continue unhindered. France will organize with Ukraine a conference on 13 December with an aim to respond to the emergency and to increase the supply of international aid to Ukraine, whether in the form of basic equipment or the reconstruction of critical infrastructure, particularly energy, he said.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said that, while the outcome of an investigation into the incident in Poland is pending, the tragedy indisputably stems from the Russian Federation’s inhumane assault against civilians across Ukraine. Through the largest barrage of missiles and drone strikes since the start of the war, the Russian Federation is knowingly generating military advantage by creating desperation. Its attacks may violate international humanitarian law and are in any case deeply inhumane. Turning to the General Assembly’s adoption of a resolution this week to establish an international reparations mechanism, she said it is an important first step towards justice for Ukraine. Supporting a renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, she called on the Russian Federation to cease hostilities, withdraw from Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and commit to dialogue.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) said yesterday’s incident demonstrated that each day of continued fighting becomes a gamble in which there cannot be any winners. Around the world, Governments continue to warn of the war’s consequences on the global food supply – most recently at the Group of 20 Summit in Indonesia. In addition to the export of grains, the supply of ammonia and fertilizers, crucial to ensure adequate crop yields for next year’s harvest, are also a priority. Citing the Secretary-General’s warning that this year’s crisis of affordability cannot become next year’s crisis of availability, she called for the Black Sea Grain Initiative to be renewed and urged stakeholders to reach a solution which ensures its extension. Only a sustainable, peaceful resolution of the war can put an end to the suffering it has caused. For its part, the Council must support any effort at talks and focus on measures that bring the sides together rather than further apart. While public statements counselling calm and restraint helped avoid escalation, yesterday’s overall episode was an unnerving warning of the inherent risks of the war’s continuation, she noted. “This cannot be the new normal — too much is at stake, not least of which is Ukraine,” she stressed. The Council must encourage confidence-building measures, open channels of communication and ensure that today is not an era of war.
JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said the lack of electricity is compromising the supply of water and other basic services, putting the lives of millions at greater risk. If living conditions keep deteriorating, there will be a new wave of displacements, he warned, noting that host countries are already at their capacity limits. He called for unrestricted humanitarian access to all civilians, including in occupied oblasts where martial law has been decreed. The conflict is also having severe mental health consequences, he said, reiterating the importance of including psychosocial support services in the humanitarian response strategy. As the impact on mental health will not end when the conflict does, a long-term strategy must be developed. Turning to nuclear safety and security, he called for the establishment of a protection and security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant as proposed by the IAEA. He went on to say that the Black Sea Grain Initiative must continue to facilitate access to global markets of food products and fertilizers.
MICHAEL KAPKIAI KIBOINO (Kenya) stated that the humanitarian costs to the people of Ukraine are joined by millions around the world. The flow of grains and fertilizers from Ukraine over the Black Sea and also from the Russian Federation over land corridors must be assured. He encouraged the European Union and the African Union to review and report on the experiences of their member States in ensuring unimpeded exports of Ukrainian and Russian Federation food and fertilizer to world markets. The Horn of Africa is experiencing the worst drought in decades and cannot afford to pay for exceedingly expensive fertilizer. Further, Africa is the most food-insecure region in the world. Yet, it has the largest amount of underused arable land with a population that is still mostly rural. This crisis presents an opportunity to put in place financial risk mitigation, technology transfers and investments in order to transform agricultural productivity on the continent, he emphasized, adding: “While we commend the humanitarian efforts being made to offer relief, our target must be sufficient production.”
RUCHIRA KAMBOJ (India), expressing concern at the targeting of civilian infrastructure as well as civilian fatalities, said that “this cannot be an era of war”. So far, India has dispatched 12 consignments of humanitarian aid and stands ready to do more. Emphasizing that the serious economic impact of the conflict on the Global South, she also underscored growing concerns for energy and food security in the wake of the severe stress caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic. She expressed hope for the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and encouraged all parties to earnestly implement it in all aspects. Going forward, India’s approach will remain people-centric, she said, adding that it will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine as well as to neighbouring States in the Global South.
LILLY STELLA NGYEMA NDONG (Gabon), hailing the resumption of exports following the brief suspension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, called for the renewal of that agreement and its full and balanced implementation. Its resumption is a sign that, even in times of war, the channels of dialogue and diplomacy remain open, she said. Highlighting the humanitarian consequences of the war, she pointed to mass displacement of people as well as the high number of civilian victims and incalculable material losses. Ongoing supply chain problems have plunged people into hunger, she said, also pointing to increased sexual violence and trafficking. Calling on warring parties to uphold international humanitarian law, she stressed that civilian infrastructure, including civilian nuclear sites, must not be targeted. More so, dialogue and negotiations must be done in good faith, she said.
FERGAL MYTHEN (Ireland), stressing the importance and applicability of the IAEA’s seven pillars of nuclear safety and security, condemned the Russian Federation’s heinous attacks against civilians and civilian objects. Such attacks are war crimes for which those responsible must be held to account. Parties to the conflict must comply with international humanitarian law, including the obligation to take all feasible precautions and the prohibitions against indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks. There must also be full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to civilians in need, he added, recalling also that the forced transfer or deportation of civilians can constitute a war crime. All sides must continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative and maintain their engagement, he said, urging the Russian Federation to immediately cease hostilities, withdraw its forces and resolve all outstanding issues peacefully and in line with the United Nations Charter.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), echoing the concerns over the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine and the conflict’s impact on food security, encouraged parties to engage in the immediate extension of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. While the conflict is not the only cause of food insecurity, the continuation of grain and fertilizer exports helps to stabilize prices and prevent shortages. In that regard, global food supply fragilities stem from systemic actions that have hindered agricultural development throughout the developing world, particularly in Africa, including massive agricultural subsidies and distorting tariff and non-tariff barriers that hinder agricultural production in developing countries. Turning to the destruction of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, he condemned the attacks against residential areas and civilian facilities. All parties must uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and adopt practical measures to minimize civilian injuries and damage. For its part, the international community must stand together and provide humanitarian assistance, he stressed, also pledging to send an additional 24 tons of rice from his country. Brazil has also simplified entry requirements to facilitate the reception of refugees. Governments and the private sector must engage in solidarity, he stressed, adding that there is no more urgent task facing the United Nations than the search for an immediate ceasefire without preconditions.
ZHANG JUN (China) said the international community must play a responsible role in seeking consensus and de-escalating tensions, adding that an increasingly protracted and complex conflict is in no one’s interest. Noting that the Russian Federation has expressed its willingness to engage in dialogue, he hoped that concerned parties will commence direct engagement as soon as possible. Legitimate security concerns must be accommodated to achieve a balanced European security architecture, address the security deficit behind the crisis and foster peace. In addition, the United States, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Russian Federation should engage in comprehensive dialogue on that matter. On the missile incident in Poland, he called for all parties to maintain calm and to avoid actions that might worsen the situation. All actors must abide by the Convention on Nuclear Safety and do their utmost to avoid nuclear risks, he said, adding that the international community must ensure nuclear weapons are never used. Expressing concern over the humanitarian situation, he called on parties to abide by international law and avoid targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure. China stands ready to resolve differences on the export of Russian Federation food and fertilizers, he said, deploring the indiscriminate use of sanctions and rejecting the use of “beggar thy neighbour practices or the creation of closed and exclusive clubs”.
MONA JUUL (Norway) stressed that the explosion resulting in the tragic loss of Polish lives would not have happened had it not been for the Russian Federation’s attacks on civilian infrastructure. Yet they did what they could to make the situation as difficult as possible for the civilian population by destroying water, heat, and electricity supplies. With winter approaching, the number of casualties and displaced persons could accelerate. Children, the elderly, and other people in highly vulnerable situations are particularly at risk. She called for the safe, rapid and unimpeded access of humanitarian organizations to all people in need. International law and international human rights law must be fully respected and implemented, she stressed, adding: “International Law applies to all nations. It is not optional.” Turning to the global consequences of the war that have destabilized financial markets, supply chains and energy security, she emphasized the need to continue the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The Council has a duty to set a different course from the Russian Federation’s disregard for the Organization’s core principles and the suffering of millions. She urged the Russian Federation to heed the ruling of the International Court of Justice, listen to the calls of States, suspend its military operations in Ukraine and stop the senseless bloodshed and global suffering.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), recalling incidents in 2008 and 2014 which involved the downing of Russian and Malaysian airliners respectively, said that Ukraine’s air defences have long had a bad reputation. Video footage regularly shows the consequences of Ukrainian air‑defence systems on residential homes. Despite evidence of Ukrainian and Polish provocation, many representatives of Western countries expressed the view that, even if the missiles were launched by Ukraine, the Russian Federation is still to blame for destroying critical infrastructure. “We would not find ourselves in this situation were it not for the fact that in 2014 in Kyiv, a bloody anti-constitutional coup had not taken place,” he said, adding that Ukraine’s leaders had set out to distort history and supplant the Russian language, provoking an acute internal civil conflict. If the West had not interfered and not supplied Ukraine with weapons and ammunition, but instead encouraged the Ukrainian leadership to make peace on realistic terms, the Russian Federation would not have had to carry out precision strikes on infrastructure in order to weaken Ukraine’s military potential, he said.
Spotlighting the role of NATO member States, he pointed to a continuous supply of weapons, as well as teams of instructors and foreign mercenaries. He also noted the involvement of the United States military in the planning and de facto control of military activities, making Ukraine a testing ground for various kinds of weapons. It would be naïve to believe that all the military and financial support provided by the West is being used as intended, he said, citing evidence that many weapons end up in the hands of terrorists and criminals or is simply stolen. He added that Western countries are trying to shift responsibility for their transgressions onto the Russian Federation through the United Nations, emphasizing that the initiators of the General Assembly’s so-called reparations resolution were unable to provide a broader outline of what kind of mechanism they intend to create. Developing countries were forced to sign onto a legally dubious and politicized text aimed at the “illegal legalization” of the expropriation of foreign assets. Once again, the developing world can see that the Ukrainian crisis is mere political currency in the hands of the West, an instrument to punish undesirables and to retain global domination that is slipping away in favour of an emerging multi-polar world, he said.
HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), Council President for November, speaking in his national capacity, welcomed the Russian Federation’s return to the Black Sea Grain Initiative. That Initiative has recorded more than 10 million metric tons of grain shipment across the world, he noted, adding that he was counting on the good faith commitments of all stakeholders to renew it upon its expiration on 19 November for the sake of the almost 100 million people who suffer from high levels of food insecurity. He expressed deep concern over intensified missile and drone attacks on several Ukrainian cities - including renewed attacks on Kyiv, Kharkiv and Lviv yesterday - as the unrelenting assault on an already battered energy infrastructure amidst the upcoming winter threatens the livelihood of many civilians. He further voiced alarm over emerging reports of possible war crimes in Kherson. Such claims, including human rights violations and conflict-related sexual violence, must be submitted to thorough, transparent and independent investigations. The Council and the international community must work collectively to avoid impunity in Ukraine and secure justice for all victims of the war. Calling on the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally cease its aggression against Ukraine, and to seek a resolution of its concerns through diplomacy and dialogue, he warned that yesterday’s Polish missile incident, and the experience of history, reminds the international community of the risk that the continuation of this unnecessary war poses in its further spread.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), describing the Russian Federation’s permanent seat in the Council as a mockery of peace efforts, said that, as temperatures drop in his country, “these terrorists” are aiming to deprive Ukrainians of electricity, water and heating with the targeting of energy facilities and civilian infrastructure in at least 11 regions. Investigators have already documented more than 400 Russian Federation war crimes, he said, adding that bodies of both civilians and military personnel have been found. The resolution for furtherance of remedy and reparation for aggression against Ukraine, adopted by the General Assembly this week, is a message of hope for justice and an important step towards accountability. Echoing Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s statement to the “G19 Summit” this week, he said the Russian Federation must immediately withdraw all its fighters from the territory of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and transfer control to IAEA and Ukrainian personnel. To improve food security globally, he added, Ukraine proposes an expansion of the grain export initiative to other ports, particularly to the port of Mykolaiv and Olvia in the Mykolaiv region. Ukraine can export 45 million tons of foodstuffs this year, he said, adding that any country can contribute to ensuring that Ukrainian grain is supplied to those in need. On energy security, he urged greater efforts to ensure full protection from “Russian terrorists”.
Turning to the situation of prisoners and deportees, he said that the only viable solution is the release of prisoners on an "all‑for‑all" basis. Ukraine will not compromise its sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, he said, stressing that Russian troops must withdraw and Ukrainian control over the entire border with the Russian Federation restored. Justice should immediately come next, he added. Stressing the need to immediately protect the environment, he said millions of hectares of forest were burned by shelling and almost 200,000 hectares of land contaminated with unexploded landmines and shells. At the latest Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference, Ukraine proposed to create a platform for the assessment of environmental damage of war. To prevent escalation, his country requires effective security assurances, which should be an integral element of the post-war security architecture in the Euro-Atlantic space, he emphasized. When all anti-war measures are implemented, when security and justice begin to be restored, a document confirming the end of the war should be signed by the parties, he added. “Russia must be stopped and due to the courage of the Ukrainian army, due to the commitment of the Ukrainian people, due to international solidarity with Ukraine Russia will be stopped,” he said.
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland), providing additional details about yesterday, said two Polish citizens lost their lives from the explosion of a missile that fell on their location 5 kilometres from the Polish-Ukrainian border. These two innocent people would not have been killed if there had not been a war in Ukraine. No matter what the particular course of events in Przewodów yesterday afternoon, their only fault was the fact that they lived close to civilian infrastructure which the Russian Federation keeps attacking as military targets. Acting with full restraint and responsibility, Poland immediately launched an extensive, multi-faceted investigation where initial findings support the hypothesis that the event was not a deliberate attack. It is also conducting intensive consultations on the incident with its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies and key partners, has increased the combat readiness of selected units and will continue to provide collective security guarantees for the region both as an individual country and a part of NATO, he added. However, notwithstanding the outcomes of the investigation, it is clear that the Russian Federation is responsible for menacing the world with its war of aggression and spill-over effects, he said.
Despite recent setbacks, Moscow still wants to erase Ukraine from the map and cause innocent people to suffer, he continued. Nevertheless, the current situation will not change Poland’s approach, he emphasized, while spotlighting his Government’s ongoing support for Ukraine. The Russian Federation continues to attack Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in a deliberate attempt to aggravate the humanitarian crisis with the probable goal of causing another wave of refugees to destabilize the situation in other countries. “Russian imperialism needs to be treated as the thing it really is: a global threat, with far-reaching consequences,” he stressed, adding: “This global threat needs to be neutralized before it plunges the whole world further into chaos.” As the war must end with a just peace acceptable to Ukraine and accountability for war atrocities and the damages inflicted, States on the side of international law must persuade the Russian Federation to stop its aggression and withdraw from Ukraine. This is the only way to prevent further deaths, injuries and devastation and stop the escalation of this large-scale humanitarian and human rights crisis, he stated.
REIN TAMMSAAR (Estonia), speaking on behalf of the Baltic States, commended the immense bravery of the Ukrainian defence forces that took back control of Kherson. “There is no doubt that sooner or later, Ukraine will liberate all the occupied territories within its internationally recognized borders.” He urged the Russian Federation to provide humanitarian access to occupied areas. It must also allow the United Nations and ICRC access to those places where civilians and prisoners of war are being held, and ensure access for the Organization’s fact-finding mission to Olenivka. Due to its blockade of Ukrainian ports and destruction of necessary infrastructure, the Russian Federation has caused a global food crisis, essentially weaponizing food and hunger as means of hybrid warfare, he continued, adding that the Black Sea Grain Initiative, alongside the European Union’s Solidarity Lanes action plan, has helped to stabilize the global food market. He went on to request the creation of a special tribunal for the Russian Federation’s actions.
BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, noted that 15 November saw the largest missile attack by the Russian Federation since the start of the invasion. By disrupting energy and water supply, that country is trying to paralyse the population, he said. Further, actions targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure by the Russian Federation are unlawful and constitute war crimes. He also reported that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that Ukraine may need $4 billion a month to maintain water and electrical utilities. To that end, the European Union is working on a package to ensure macroeconomic stability, maintain essential public service and rebuild critical infrastructure. He also reiterated the need for full humanitarian access, including in areas not currently under the Ukrainian Government’s control. As well, it was of paramount importance to continue documenting all war crimes committed throughout Ukraine, as the International Criminal Court and the Ukrainian authorities worked to bring perpetrators to account.
Monday’s adoption of a General Assembly resolution to recommend the creation of a register of damages and recognize the need for reparation of damage is another step to ensure accountability, he continued. In that regard, the Union will continue to support Ukraine within the framework of the International Court of Justice. He underscored that, by weaponizing food, the Russian Federation is solely responsible for the global food security crisis. According to United Nations data, two thirds of the wheat exported from Ukraine through the Black Sea Grain Initiative has gone to developing countries. In addition to export over sea via the European Union‑Ukraine Solidarity Lanes, 15 million tons of agricultural goods have also been exported from Ukraine to global markets over land. Among other efforts, the Union is stepping up global food assistance, including a new humanitarian aid package of €210 million for 15 countries, bringing its overall food security support up to €8 billion between 2021-2024. Calling on others to step up their humanitarian assistance, he added: “The war would end tomorrow if the Russian Federation withdrew, as requested by the General Assembly.”
RÓBERT CHATRNÚCH (Slovakia) said that images of civilians greeting Ukrainian soldiers with open arms in Kherson only confirms the Russian Federation’s “Kingdom of Crooked Mirrors” perception. He expressed grave concern at the humanitarian situation, as well as the large number of civilian deaths, attacks on critical infrastructure and sexual and gender‑based violence committed by Russian soldiers and occupiers. He also deplored in the strongest terms Russian missile attacks across Ukraine on 15 November which plunged 7 million homes into darkness. Reiterating concern about global food security, he urged the Russian Federation to listen to the United Nations and implement all relevant resolutions, including the one adopted by the General Assembly earlier this week.