Latest Developments in Ukraine Dangerous, Disturbing, Secretary-General Tells Security Council, Calling for Redoubled Efforts to End ‘Senseless’ War
Following are UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ remarks to the Security Council meeting on Ukraine, in New York today:
Russia’s war in Ukraine shows no sign of letting up. The past seven months have seen unspeakable suffering and devastation. The latest developments are dangerous and disturbing. They are further steps away from any prospect of peace — and towards an endless cycle of horror and bloodshed.
As I have said from the start, this senseless war has unlimited potential to do terrible harm — in Ukraine and around the world. The idea of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, has become a subject of debate. This in itself is totally unacceptable. All nuclear-armed States should recommit to the non-use and progressive elimination of nuclear weapons.
I am also deeply concerned by reports of plans to organize so-called “referenda” in areas of Ukraine that are currently not under government control. Any annexation of a State’s territory by another State resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the United Nations Charter and of international law.
Thousands of Ukrainian civilians, including hundreds of children, have been killed and injured, mostly by Russian bombardment of urban areas. Every day, an average of five children are killed or injured. Almost every child in Ukraine has been scarred by the nightmare of war, from violence to family separation. Some 14 million people have been forced to flee, the majority of them women and children. The situation will only get worse with winter approaching, and gas and electricity supplies dwindling.
At the global level, the conflict has supercharged a triple crisis of food, energy and finance. This is driving millions more people into extreme poverty and hunger, and reversing years of progress on development, and follows the COVID-19 crisis and the growing impact of climate change.
The collateral damage of this war is being felt in dozens of developing countries already grappling with recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and battered by the climate crisis. The most vulnerable are suffering most.
The United Nations is working to maximize every opportunity to alleviate suffering, including through my visits to Ukraine, Russian Federation and the region, and my direct engagement with President [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy and President [Vladimir V.] Putin. Together with our humanitarian partners on the ground, we have provided aid to nearly 13 million people in need. It is essential that humanitarian workers have safe and unhindered access to all those requiring assistance, wherever they may be.
The Office of the [United Nations] High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has been documenting the unacceptable impact of this war on human rights. The reports are a catalogue of cruelty: summary executions, sexual violence, torture and other inhumane and degrading treatment against civilians and prisoners of war. The latest accounts of burial sites in Izyum are extremely disturbing.
All these allegations must be thoroughly investigated to ensure accountability. Perpetrators must be held to account in fair and independent judicial proceedings. Victims and their families have a right to justice, remedy and reparation.
Ending impunity for international crimes is fundamental. In all this, the International Criminal Court plays an important role to ensure effective accountability. The Prosecutor of the Court has opened an investigation into the situation in Ukraine. Full cooperation with the court by all parties is essential.
The Fact-Finding Mission I established following the tragic incident at the detention facility in Olenivka on 29 July is ready to deploy as soon as all necessary assurances are received. The Mission must have safe, secure and unfettered access to all relevant places and people, and to all relevant evidence, without any limitation, impediment or interference.
The situation at the site of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant — located in the middle of a war zone — remains a cause of grave concern. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is consulting with all parties involved on measures to ensure the safety of the plant and surrounding areas. I thank the IAEA for its work. Its continued presence at the plant is an important deterrent.
All attacks on nuclear facilities must end, and the purely civilian nature of such plants must be re-established. Any damage to nuclear infrastructure, whether deliberate or not, could have terrible consequences for people around the plant and far beyond. The world cannot afford a nuclear catastrophe.
Yesterday’s news that more than 250 prisoners of war were exchanged between Ukraine and the Russian Federation was a welcome development. I commend the efforts of both parties and hope that they will build on this with further exchanges aiming at an “all for all” formula. I thank the Governments of Türkiye and Saudi Arabia for its role in securing this agreement.
In July, also with the support of the Government of Türkiye, a landmark deal was reached enabling the resumption of food and fertilizer exports from three of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports. More than 4.3 million metric tons of food have since been moved, bound for 29 countries across three continents. This includes three vessels chartered by the World Food Progamme (WFP) to transport desperately needed food supplies for the people of Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and Yemen. A fourth left Istanbul today, and a fifth is on the way.
Since the signing of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, global food prices have dropped sharply, although they are still almost 8 per cent higher than a year ago. It is vital that these food shipments continue and increase, so commodity markets further stabilize.
The United Nations also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Russian Federation on the full access of Russian food and fertilizer products, including ammonia, to global markets. We are doing everything possible to facilitate this, and to ease the serious fertilizer market crunch that is already affecting farming in West Africa and elsewhere.
If the fertilizer market is not stabilized, next year could bring a food‑supply crisis. Simply put, the world may run out of food. It is essential that all States remove every remaining obstacle to the export of Russian fertilizers immediately. We need to get them to farmers at a reasonable cost, and on to fields as soon as possible. Another major concern is the impact of high gas prices on the production of nitrogen fertilizers. This must also be addressed without delay.
There is only one way to end the suffering in Ukraine — and that is by ending the war. I will continue to spare no effort for peace — peace in line with international law and the Charter of the United Nations. And I appeal to all Member States, and especially those here today, to redouble all efforts to prevent further escalation, and to do all they can to end the war and to ensure lasting peace.