Decrying Crimes against Civilians, Calling for Immediate Ceasefire in Ukraine, Speakers Tell Security Council Peace Talks Crucial to Ending Conflict
Russian Federation Delegate Claims West Prevented Kyiv from Making Peace, but Ukrainian Minister Says Country Will Continue Defending Itself
Ministers, senior officials and representatives from around the world called for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and for peace talks to commence, decrying the crimes being committed against civilians and children, while warning against escalation of the conflict into a third world war, as the Security Council addressed for the second time in a week the impact of the conflict on both the region and the international community.
“The guns are talking now, but in the end we all know that the path of diplomacy and accountability is the road to a just and sustainable peace,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, painting a bleak portrait of the situation in Ukraine, where 17.6 million people — 40 per cent of the population — require humanitarian assistance.
Life is a living hell for the people of that country, he said, with 30 per cent of pre-war jobs erased and nearly 40 per cent of Ukrainians unable to afford or access enough food. The war has sparked a displacement crisis not seen in Europe in decades, with 8 million Ukrainian refugees and 5.4 million people internally displaced.
However, progress has been made under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, he noted, reporting that 20 million metric tons of foodstuffs have now been safely reconnected to global supply chains on more than 700 ships, helping to bring down prices around the world. He also urged all parties to implement a nuclear safety protection zone at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station to avoid a serious accident with potentially disastrous consequences.
Many speakers condemned crimes committed by the Russian Federation in the past year, spotlighting the forced deportation of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children to Russian families. They also called attention to the General Assembly resolution adopted on 23 February which called on the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops and follows the logic of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace plan to restore respect for the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“We should never lose sight of the human drama,” said Brazil’s representative, urging the international community to put aside illusions about a military solution. He voiced concern about the armed stalemate on the ground, triumphalist rhetoric on both sides and prospects of new military offensives, noting that time has come to also give voice to those who want to speak in ways to build peace. International humanitarian law and its principles are not optional, he emphasized, adding that countries such as his — which are not directly involved in the conflict — have a constructive role to play in fostering dialogue.
China’s delegate, stressing that the international community must think about how to stop the fighting as soon as possible, pointed to the position paper just issued by his Government on a political settlement aiming to help resolve the conflict. Citing the impartial stance of his delegation, he said a solution must observe universally recognized law. The strengthening of military blocs will not bring about peace, he observed, calling on the international community to create platforms for negotiations — the only way to resolve the conflict.
Péter Szijjártó, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said as a direct neighbour of Ukraine, his country is faced with its tragic consequences of the war on a daily basis. The longer this war lasts, the more losers there will be, more damage will occur, and more people will be killed, he cautioned, noting that deliveries of weapons — with further packages of sanctions — do not save lives. “If channels of communications are stopped, the hope for peace is given up,” he said, calling on States to concentrate on how to prevent the conflict from escalating into a third world war. In this context, he warned against direct confrontation between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Russian Federation.
Antony Blinken, Secretary of State for the United States, said when President Vladimir Putin found he could not break the Ukrainian military, he tried to break the Ukrainian spirit. Despite the thousands of men, women and children killed, the energy infrastructure destroyed, and children abducted and relocated to the Russian Federation, the spirit of Ukrainians is stronger than ever. The Council should not be fooled by any calls for a ceasefire, he stressed, noting that the Russian Federation will use any pause in fighting to replenish its forces. “Russia fights for conquest. Ukraine fights for its freedom.” If the Russian Federation stops fighting, the war ends, but if Ukraine stops fighting, it ceases to exist, he warned.
Refuting that, the Russian Federation’s representative insisted: “Ukraine is up to its elbows in blood and Nazi tattoos.” If Ukraine did not wage war against the people in Donetsk and Luhansk, there would have been no need for Moscow’s special military operation and Crimea would have probably remained within Ukraine. Moscow has never stated that it intends to “de-Ukrainize” Ukraine, he emphasized, rejecting the claim that if Ukraine will stop fighting, there will be no Ukraine. Instead, if Ukraine ends hostilities, it will get the chance to be reborn as a peace-loving State. Moscow is ready to negotiate about how the goals of the special military operation could be implemented using peaceful means. Ending hostilities, however, is not in the interest of the collective West which prevented the Kyiv regime from making peace in April 2022, he pointed out.
Rejecting that narrative, Dmytro Kuleba, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, declared: “Ukraine will resist as it has done so far, and Ukraine will win.” Russian propaganda has fabricated this hypocritical narrative that supplying Ukraine with weapons fuels the war, adding that his country indeed needs weapons, just as a firefighter needs water to extinguish a fire. While arming a country that defends itself from aggression is legitimate and is an act of defending the Charter of the United Nations, helping an aggressor is illegitimate and constitutes a crime under the Charter. In this context, he urged for the establishment of a special tribunal with specific jurisdiction over the crime of aggression against Ukraine and the ability to deal with the personal immunities of the principal perpetrators, beginning with President Vladimir Putin.
Also speaking today were ministers, senior officials and representatives of Malta, Albania, Ecuador, Switzerland, Japan, France, United Kingdom, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, Gabon, Mozambique, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Germany, Latvia (on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries), Republic of Moldova, Netherlands (on behalf of the Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine), Italy, North Macedonia, Spain, Czech Republic, Croatia and Estonia. The High Representative of the European Union, in its capacity as an observer, also spoke.
The meeting began at 10:10 a.m. and ended at 1:43 p.m.
Point of Order
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) asked the President of the Security Council to clarify the basis on which he is giving the floor to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine before Council members speak. On this point, he stressed that the Council has rules that were established long before Malta became a member of the 15-nation organ.
IAN BORG, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs and Trade of Malta, Council President for February, said that, as today’s debate is held on the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the Council President sees value in allowing Ukraine’s Foreign Minister to take the floor before Council members.
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) warned that, the moment the Council President formally gavels this decision, it will “create an egregious precedent” where the representative of Ukraine is given a privilege in the Council that is denied to others. Citing other meetings where high-level representatives spoke after Council members, he said today represents another attempt to give certain rights to Ukraine because it is part of the West’s “geopolitical project”. The same applies to the unprecedented number of delegations invited to speak today under Rule 37, and he expressed regret that the Maltese Presidency has placed its national position above its responsibilities as Council President.
Mr. BORG (Malta) pointed out that Serbia’s Foreign Minister spoke before Council members in the last two meetings held on the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Regarding the speakers under Rule 37, he said that such requests came from foreign ministers who took the time to travel to New York on this anniversary, which indicates that they feel their countries have been — and still are — directly affected by this war.
ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said the purposes and principles embedded in the Organization’s Charter are not a matter of convenience. “They are not merely words on paper. They are at the core of who we are,” he said. “They reflect the driving mission of our United Nations. And they exist precisely to address any grievance — whatever it may be.”
The Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine is a blatant violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law and has unleashed widespread death, destruction and displacement. Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure have caused many casualties and terrible suffering. The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has documented dozens of cases of conflict-related sexual violence against men, women and girls.
Life is a living hell for the people of Ukraine and about 17.6 million people, nearly 40 per cent of the population of the country, require humanitarian assistance and protection. The crisis has erased 30 per cent of pre-war jobs. The World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that nearly 40 per cent of Ukrainians are unable to afford or access enough food. The war has sparked a displacement crisis not seen in Europe in decades and more than 8 million Ukrainian refugees have been recorded across Europe, in addition to an estimated 5.4 million people who have been internally displaced. Nearly 10 million people, including 7.8 million children, are at risk of acute post-traumatic stress disorder. “And make no mistake, the Russian Federation is also suffering the deadly consequences,” he added.
Peace in line with the Charter of the United Nations and international law is needed, he continued. As we work for peace, protection of civilians must remain the top priority. At the request of the Government of Ukraine and on behalf of the United Nations system, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is co-leading an assessment of damage to energy infrastructure, jointly with the World Bank. He urged all parties to swiftly agree and implement a nuclear safety and security protection zone at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station to avoid a serious accident with potentially disastrous consequences. Progress continues to be made under the Black Sea Grain Initiative, an agreement brokered with the parties by the United Nations and the Government of Türkiye. More than 20 million metric tons of foodstuffs have now been safely reconnected to global supply chains on more than 700 ships, helping to bring down prices around the world. He called for it to be extended beyond March 2023. The United Nations is firmly committed to working to remove remaining obstacles to Russian food and fertilizer exports, including ammonia.
The Council has held more than 40 debates on Ukraine over the past year. “The guns are talking now, but in the end we all know that the path of diplomacy and accountability is the road to a just and sustainable peace,” he said. “Peace in line with the United Nations Charter and international law. We must prevent further escalation.”
DMYTRO KULEBA, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, said the General Assembly has just passed a resolution on the principles of lasting peace in Ukraine, noting that “141 Member States took the side of the United Nations Charter while seven took the side of Russia”. The resolution follows the logic of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace plan whose goal is to restore respect for the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. He invited all countries to facilitate implementation of the resolution and the peace formula, adding: “we need to act quickly”. To ensure nuclear safety and security, the Russian Federation must be forced to withdraw from the illegally occupied Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station. Moreover, he called for furthering the Black Sea Grain Initiative and for developing the Grain from Ukraine initiative. “First and foremost, people must be saved,” he stressed, noting that their lives and their rights are at the centre of the peace struggle. The magnitude of the humanitarian crisis brought on by the Russian Federation’s aggression cannot be overstated, he warned, adding that Moscow is implementing probably the largest instance of State-sponsored kidnapping of children in modern history.
He went on to declare: “Ukraine will resist as it has done so far, and Ukraine will win. Putin is going to lose much sooner than he thinks.” Russian propaganda has fabricated this hypocritical narrative that supplying Ukraine with weapons fuels the war. “Ukraine indeed needs weapons, just as a firefighter needs water to extinguish a fire,” he said, noting “the sooner and the more we get, the sooner the fire will be extinguished”. While arming a country that defends itself from aggression is legitimate and is an act of defending the Charter of the United Nations, helping an aggressor is illegitimate and defies the Charter. “If you give weapons to Russia, you commit a crime,” he asserted. Against this backdrop, he called for the establishment of a special tribunal with specific jurisdiction over the crime of aggression against Ukraine and the ability to deal with the personal immunities of the principal perpetrators, beginning with Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin.
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) noted that his delegation was standing to honour the memory of all the victims of what happened in Ukraine — starting in 2014 — adding that “all lives are priceless”.
Mr. BORG (Malta) spoke in his national capacity, stressing that the war is a blatant violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law and “is a stain on the very principles that we here are bound to uphold”. Various United Nations and international mechanisms have provided evidence of indiscriminate killings of civilians, attacks on civilian infrastructure, sexual and gender-based violence, abductions, among others, as well as forcible deportation of children, which is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In particular, the tragic impact of these transfers and deportations on Ukraine’s children will be felt for generations to come, he said, stressing that they must be returned to their families or legal guardians without delay. Perpetrators must be held to account, he said, welcoming the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine’s efforts in this regard. Among other points, he also expressed deep concern regarding the shelling in and around nuclear power plants in Ukraine, including the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station. Such actions constitute a grave environmental and health threat and a serious risk to international peace and security that can lead to a grave humanitarian and environmental catastrophe with long-term repercussions. Further, any declarations by the Russian Federation suggesting that the possible use of nuclear weapons is in any way justified are unacceptable. Such rhetoric only further undermines trust between parties and only serves as a means to escalate the conflict and heighten tensions. More so, no State or Power has the right to redraw borders in accordance with its geopolitical interests, he emphasized, adding his country’s full support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
ANTONY BLINKEN, Secretary of State for the United States, said one year and one week ago he warned Council delegates that the Russian Federation planned to invade Ukraine and to topple its democratically elected Government. When President Putin found he could not break the Ukrainian military, he tried to break the Ukrainian spirit. Tens of thousands of men, women and children have been killed, energy infrastructure destroyed, children abducted and relocated to the Russian Federation. Yet, the spirit of Ukrainians is stronger than ever. The Ukrainian people have shown unity in Moscow’s relentless assault. The international community has come together and responded to the conflict. On 23 February, 141 countries voted in the General Assembly for a resolution that reaffirmed the core principles of sovereignty and integrity and upheld the principles of the Charter of the United Nations. Since President Putin tried to weaponize hunger and intensify the global food crisis, the international community responded swiftly. Since the United States chaired a food summit meeting in May 2022, more than 100 countries have signed a concrete commitment to alleviate hunger. The Black Sea Grain Initiative has loosened Moscow’s stranglehold on Ukraine’s ports and brought the price of grain downward and given people relief. It must be extended and expanded.
Council members have a unique responsibility to push for a just and durable peace, he continued. The United States is prepared to engage in any meaningful diplomatic effort to achieve peace. It must be a peace that upholds the principles of the Charter, including sovereignty and independence, and it must be durable. It must ensure that Moscow does not rest, rearm and relaunch a war in a few months or a few years. The Council should not be fooled by any calls for a ceasefire. The Russian Federation will use any pause in fighting to replenish its forces. He cautioned delegates: “There is an aggressor and there is a victim,” he said. “Russia fights for conquest. Ukraine fights for its freedom.” If the Russian Federation stops fighting, the war ends, but if Ukraine stops fighting, it ceases to exist. As the international community works to end the conflict, the Council must address other challenges to international peace and security. Responding to the Russian Federation’s assertion that the conflict is diverting resources from other areas, he said that in addition to the $13.5 billion in food aid the United States have given to fight hunger over the last year, it funded more than 40 per cent of the WFP’s budget. The Russian Federation contributed less than 1 per cent to the agency’s budget. The United States has given nine times as much as Moscow to the Organization’s peacekeeping budget and 390 times as much as the Russia Federation to the budget of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). As the war continues, it is important that human dignity is reaffirmed and perpetrators of crimes are held accountable so these war crimes do not become a new normal.
OLTA XHAÇKA, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of Albania, recalled that, on 23 February, 141 Member States from all corners of the world resoundingly confirmed that “they do not want a world according to Russia”; rather, they desire a world according to the Charter of the United Nations. One year ago, Russian troops rushed across Ukraine’s borders while Russian missiles filled its skies, and what Moscow started on this day in 2022 was cataclysmic for Ukraine, earth-shattering for Europe and history-shaping for the world. Millions around the world — especially the poorest — have suffered because of the war’s global effects. Further, she said that the world has witnessed despicable crimes committed by the Russian Federation in Ukraine — the worst being the unjust, illegal and unprovoked war of aggression waged by a permanent Council member that has “chosen to behave like a rogue State”. Noting that Russian leaders like to talk about history and their country’s role in it, she said that the Russian Federation has much to be proud of throughout its history. However, she stressed that history judges, above all, based on the ability to learn from the past and, at present, “Russia has nothing to be proud of”. She added that, the sooner ordinary Russians understand that their country has become isolated — with only itself to blame — “the sooner this madness will stop”.
JUAN CARLOS HOLGUÍN, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of Ecuador, said the first Russian bombs — dropped at the same time the Council was meeting in this very Chamber — annihilated diplomatic efforts by the international community. The consequences of Moscow’s military aggression were disastrous from the very first day. Three days later, the Under-Secretary-General informed the Council about the horrific humanitarian situation on the ground. Among those who fled Ukraine were around 1,000 Ecuadorians. This is not a conflict which is focused on Ukraine, “it is an attack on the world”, including Latin America, he asserted. With 14 million people forced to leave their homes, 8 million living as refugees in Europe and almost 6 million internally displaced persons, the most gravely affected are women, girls and boys. Voicing concern over the destruction of jobs and the economic devastation, he detailed Moscow’s crimes, including summary executions, sexual and gender-based violence and torture. He also pointed to Moscow’s attacks against the cultural heritage of Ukraine, including museums and religious sites. The country’s aggression heightened the nuclear threat and worsened food insecurity at a global level, affecting all economies, in particular those of developing nations. Moreover, it affected the working dynamic of the Council and undermined the confidence in the United Nations system. Over the past 12 months, the Council has met at least 50 times to consider the situation in Ukraine. Thanks to the Uniting for Peace mechanism, the 15-member organ convened the eleventh emergency special session of the General Assembly which adopted six resolutions, focusing on territorial integrity and the principle of the Charter of the United Nations. The Council must unequivocally reject attempts to annex territories by force and it must reject violence as a tool of domination between States, he stressed. This is not a vision of the West, “it is a sacred principle for the developing countries, whose only weapon is international law”, he said, declaring: “for those who continue to live beneath the spectre of the bombs, we appeal for this war to last not one day longer”.
IGNAZIO CASSIS, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, said the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine is an enormous shock for his country, as depositary and party to the Geneva Conventions. Calling for full respect of the essential rules of international humanitarian law, he added that the civilian population, the wounded, prisoners and vital infrastructure must be protected by all parties to the conflict and by all combatants. Switzerland stands ready to bring everyone around the table, he said, adding that after a year of war, it is necessary to gather ideas and resources to restore security in Europe and ensure the return of a complete, just and lasting peace in Ukraine. Welcoming the resolution adopted on 23 February by the General Assembly, he said it sends a clear signal from the vast majority of Member States in favour of solidarity, dialogue and peace. As a permanent neutral State, Switzerland fully respects its obligations under the law of neutrality, he said, but neutrality does not mean indifference. Stressing that his country will not stay indifferent to violations of fundamental rights, he said, along with 40 other States, Switzerland has referred the situation in Ukraine to the International Criminal Court and called on all States to cooperate with the Court.
YOSHIMASA HAYASHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine is an insult to the Security Council and United Nations. Recalling the resolutions of the General Assembly, including the one just adopted on 23 February, and the International Court of Justice order on provisional measures, he called on the Russian Federation to immediately stop its war of aggression, withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from Ukraine, and respect its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Also condemning the Russian Federation’s attacks against critical infrastructure, he said its irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and its seizure and militarization of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station must be denounced as well. Voicing support for the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure nuclear safety and security at the plant, he welcomed President Zelenskyy’s efforts to demonstrate fundamental principles in his peace formula and to promote a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in accordance with the principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations.
CATHERINE COLONNA, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, said that, a year ago, the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine for no other reason than its “obsessive desire” to resurrect a past condemned by history. Since then, it has used extreme violence to deny the identity of a country and its people. Today marks one year of the Russian Federation sowing death and destruction; flagrantly violating the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations, despite its permanent membership in the Security Council; and committing systematic violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. Noting that Moscow has also violated resolution 2231 (2015), she called for an investigation into the transfer of drones from Iran to the Russian Federation. Today also marks one year of the Russian Federation wielding nuclear rhetoric and one year of countries forced to grapple with growing food insecurity and rising energy prices as a direct consequence of Moscow’s war. She stated that, one year in, the facts are on the table: the Russian Federation is the aggressor, denying its responsibilities, and Ukraine is the victim of that aggression, defending itself but also speaking of peace. Ukraine is exercising its right to self-defence in accordance with the Charter, and France — along with its partners — will continue providing necessary support towards this end for as long as is necessary. She added that there will not be peace and security anywhere if aggression is rewarded.
JAMES CLEVERLY, Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs of the United Kingdom, recalling his trip to Kyiv three months ago, said that right before joining Ukraine’s Foreign Minister for lunch, a Russian missile attack knocked out both the water and electrical supply. The restaurant hooked up a generator and brought in bottled water. This is a clear demonstration that the Ukrainians’ spirit will not be broken. To that end, he urged that the international community keep its promise both to Ukraine and the Charter of the United Nations, adding that what is at stake on the battlefield is the international order itself, at the heart of which is the United Nations. The Charter, territorial integrity and international law exist to protect countries that do not have big armies from the aggression of countries that do. “That is the bottom line. It’s why the United Nations Charter needs to be enforced,” he stressed. He also warned that President Putin, seeing that he is losing, will attempt to strong arm the international community into backing down through coercive measures and threats of escalation. The world should be prepared for this and recognize it for the sign of weakness that it is. Spotlighting its military and humanitarian support, the United Kingdom will also be co-hosting the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London in June. “But what Ukraine wants — what we all want — is for this war to end now. With victory for Ukraine and a just and enduring peace, based on the United Nations Charter,” he emphasized.
KWAKU AMPRATWUM-SARPONG (Ghana), reiterating solidarity with the people of Ukraine, said the Russian Federation’s aggression against that country constitutes a serious violation of international law. “Between the reality on the ground and the changing narratives, including protection of ethnic Russians in parts of Ukraine from Russo-phobic attacks, our assessment remains that the ongoing aggression against Ukraine is by all standards, unlawful, unjustified and unacceptable,” he said. Expressing concern that the fallout from the continuing war is creating or reinforcing opposing alliances, a situation which caused two world wars, he added that “this is the time for cooler heads and a rededication to mutually beneficial cooperation and multilateralism, not competition for hegemonic advantage”. Highlighting the aftershocks of the war, and its crippling impacts on global food, energy and finance systems, he drew attention to the policy recommendations of the Global Crises Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance to address the vicious cycle of the crises, including the restructuring of the global debt architecture. Voicing support for the further renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, he expressed concern about the hardening of the conflict to a war of attrition.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) pointed out that a global, diverse and representative majority issued an unambiguous message: “enough”, as it rose to the defence of the Charter of the United Nations. Noting that in the historical processes and events that forged today’s European States that are for the most part observers often unwillingly impacted, she underscored that the war’s reach has extended far beyond Ukraine. Welcoming China’s important proposal, she urged the parties to seize the opportunity it provides and invest in inclusive and imaginative diplomacy. Calling on reinforcing Secretary-General’s role as a mediator, she underscored that the post-war vision must incentivize the Russian Federation and Ukraine to the negotiating table, not to the battlefield. She went on to say that ending a war in Europe is “something like a combination of chess and mountain climbing” and stressed that reaching the end of the war will require a series of small moves. In this regard, she spotlighted the importance of renewing the Black Sea Grain Initiative, preserving the non-proliferation regime, enhancing humanitarian assistance, continuing prisoner-exchanges and refraining from turning multilateral institutions into a battlefront.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said it has been one year since the war began and it continues to test international systems and send out shock waves that are impacting the entire world. Every day increases the risk of the conflict and hostilities spilling over into other areas and expanding the risk of nuclear war. War is unsustainable and must cease. He reaffirmed the principles of the Charter as a foundation of peaceful coexistence and said he has repeatedly called for a ceasefire. “It is time to stem the blood flow,” he said, urging the Council to mobilize an end to the war. Council members owe a response to the people killed, the victims of atrocities and refugees. He appealed to all parties to engage in good faith negotiations. The talks to renew the Black Sea Initiative must begin. This will build a bridge for candid dialogue. He urged the use of restraint and reaffirmed his opposition to this war and all wars, including wars on the African continent. Wars run counter to the principles of the United Nations and call into question its mandates, he said, appealing for peace and efforts towards dialogue.
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), said the word “peace” — used by the West — means infliction of strategic defeat of the Russian Federation, and ideally, followed by the disintegration of the country. These true goals of Western interference were explained nine years ago, on the day of the 2014 coup, which resulted in a hostile Russophobic regime on his country’s border. “Ukraine is up to its elbows in blood and Nazi tattoos,” he asserted, pointing to the nine-year period of elimination of Russian-speaking citizens in Donbas, denying Russian-speaking Ukrainians their universal rights and freedoms. It was at that time that the Ukrainian internal conflict erupted. “Ukraine is not a victim,” he declared, noting that if Ukraine did not wage war against the people in Donetsk and Luhansk, there would have been no need for Moscow’s special military operation. In addition, Crimea would have probably remained within Ukraine, as people in Crimea chose reunification with the Russian Federation only after direct threats from the Kyiv authorities.
Turning to the Minsk agreements, he said neither France, Germany nor the United Kingdom had intentions to implement them and only used them to buy time for Kyiv to prepare for war with his country. He rejected the claim that “if Ukraine will stop fighting, there will be no Ukraine”, adding that Moscow has never stated that it wants to “de-Ukrainize” Ukraine. “If Ukraine ends hostilities, it will get the chance to be reborn as a normal, peace-loving State and will save many thousands of lives,” he said, emphasizing that Moscow is ready to negotiate about how the goals of the special military operation could be implemented using peaceful means. However, ending hostilities in Ukraine is not in the interest of the collective West which prevented the Kyiv regime from making peace in April 2022. “Our Western colleagues are currently happy with everything: the Russians and Ukrainians are killing each other, and the Western companies are getting fabulously rich, and NATO is getting rid of its old weapons,” he said. Meanwhile, Washington, D.C., is weakening the European competitors who are demonstrating impotence. Western leaders perceive the right of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to expand uncontrollably as “absolute”. The unipolar world is in the past, he said, calling for a transition to a multipolar world. The Kyiv regime sacrificed the Ukrainian people for the purposes of Western geopolitical interests. After supplying the Zelenskyy regime with weapons which were used to kill women, children and the elderly of Donbas, “our relations will never be the same”, he said to Washington, D.C.
PEDRO COMISSÁRIO AFONSO (Mozambique), spotlighting the conflict’s grave socioeconomic impact on developing countries — especially those in Africa — noted that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has found that, while Africa was slowly rising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine now threatens this recovery. He said that, from an African perspective, the devastating effects of conflict are all too familiar, and that wars only result in suffering. It is, therefore, the collective duty of the international community to work towards resolving conflict through peaceful, negotiated solutions. To this end, it must support all diplomatic efforts to end the conflict in Ukraine, which requires the support of all nations — particularly those who hold Council seats. He said that this also means “building on the few bright spots of this year-long conflict”, such as the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the regular exchange of prisoners and the Secretary-General’s Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance. Noting his country’s long-standing commitment to promoting peace and security in its region and beyond and its experience with numerous conflicts, he said that Mozambique understands the importance of supporting diplomatic efforts and respecting international humanitarian law to bring about peace. As such, he underscored that the conflict’s one-year anniversary must serve as a reminder for the international community to work together to find a negotiated solution, guided by the Charter of the United Nations.
RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), expressing concern about the armed stalemate on the ground, triumphalist rhetoric on both sides and prospects of new military offensives, called on the international community to put aside illusions about a military solution. While condemning the Russian Federation’s invasion and the territorial violation of Ukraine, he added that time has come to also give voice to those who want to speak in ways to build peace. International humanitarian law and its principles are not optional, he said, adding that countries such as his, which are not directly involved in the conflict, have a constructive role to play in fostering dialogue. Noting his delegation’s participation in the discussions on the Assembly resolution adopted just on 23 February, he said it encouraged careful consideration of the causes of conflict so that mutual resentments and suspicions do not manifest in future violence. “We should never lose sight of the human drama. Nor ignore the global economic impact of the war,” he said.
DAI BING (China) said it has been one year since the outbreak of the conflict and it remains deeply concerning. The international community needs to think about how to stop the fighting as soon as possible and achieve a long-term peace in Ukraine and Europe. The Government of China earlier today issued a position document on a political settlement aiming to help resolve the conflict. His delegation has always taken an objective and impartial stance and stands ready to play a constructive role. A solution must observe universally recognized law, including the Charter’s principles and guarantee the sovereignty of all countries. It should be equally and uniformly applied to all issues. Some countries express sovereignty with Ukraine, but blatantly go into the affairs of other countries. There must be common security for all countries and the strengthening of military blocs will not bring about peace. Ukraine and the Russian Federation are neighbours and cannot move away. The cold war mentality must be abandoned, and the concerns of all countries must be observed. Negotiations are the only way to resolve the conflict. The international community should create platforms for negotiations, though it will not be easy to bring the parties to the table. He called on the Russian Federation and Ukraine to resume negotiations without preconditions. During the conflict, international humanitarian law should be observed, and humanitarian access should be provided to those in need. The international community must ensure this.
JOSEP BORRELL FONTELLES, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, underscored that President Putin chose this war. Cataloguing the crimes committed by the Russian Federation in the past year, he spotlighted the forced deportation of tens of thousands of Ukrainian children, and changing of their personal status, including nationality, for adoption by Russian families, a clear violation of human rights and international law and the Geneva Convention. They must be returned to Ukraine immediately. He also spotlighted the crimes against humanity in Bucha, where he witnessed the bodies of civilians with their hands tied behind their backs before they were executed. The war not only has been devastating for the Ukrainian people, but has impacted the world, with spikes in food and energy insecurity and increases in prices that are catastrophic for the most vulnerable, becoming an additional burden to the difficulties of daily life in many countries around the world. “This war affects us all”. To that end, the European Union and its member States have contributed over the past year to mitigate this, including in Africa, where more than €1.5 billion has been committed for food security actions in the most affected countries in the Sahel, Lake Chad and the Horn of Africa.
The war matters a lot, for the principles at stake and the shockwaves it is creating, he continued, asking “how do we get to peace?” Despite the Security Council being blocked, on 23 February the General Assembly, with 141 countries for, and 7 countries against, condemned aggression and called on the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops. It is urgent the Kremlin heed this message and act on it. Looking to the future, the world must build on this resolution and make it happen. President Zelenskyy has presented a 10-point peace plan and the European Union is ready to work with all genuine partners and ideas that support Ukraine’s effort to secure a comprehensive and lasting peace. More so, he stressed that the bloc’s principled support for Ukraine does not come at the expense of its engagement elsewhere in the world. On the contrary, the Union remains fully mobilized to support sustainable peace elsewhere “because we know there are many more wars, tragedies and problems around the world that need our support and concern”, he emphasized, adding: “It’s not instead of; it’s on top of.” The bloc has a strong track record of engagement around the world, financially and politically, with more than 5,000 women and men deployed on 21 crisis management operations, and with two additional operations just launched in Armenia and Niger. “We will work for a just peace in Ukraine and be that reliable partner for peace around the world whenever peace is in danger and people are suffering,” he stated.
RASTISLAV KÁČER (Slovakia), noting that Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine shook faith in multilateralism from its foundations, declared: “I do not really understand in which parallel universe depriving millions innocent people of electricity, heat and water and plunging the country into darkness, can be justifiable under the pretext of a so-called special military operation.” Moscow has been systemic in spreading propaganda and distorting facts, he said, calling on that country to immediately withdraw all of its troops from the whole territory of Ukraine. He voiced extreme concern about the number of civilian casualties — 7,199 killed and 11,756 injured — since the beginning of the invasion.
BOGDAN AURESCU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Romania, noting that the impacts of this irrational war of aggression have “reached far and wide”, said that grain and energy chains have been disrupted, fears of a nuclear catastrophe “daunt us yet again” and hybrid tactics seek to pressure Ukraine and its neighbours — such as the Republic of Moldova and others in the Black Sea region. Further, the war is a direct attack on the integrity of the rules-based international system and on global security, prosperity and core values. From day one, Romania has welcomed over 3.6 million Ukrainian refugees that have transited its territory and has facilitated the delivery of around 13 million tons of Ukrainian grain in contribution to global food-security efforts. It has also supported efforts to seek accountability for all serious crimes committed in Ukraine, including that of aggression. Also spotlighting the war’s major regional impact, he noted that Romania has extended a helping hand to its neighbour, the Republic of Moldova, which is the country most-affected by the war other than Ukraine. On that point, he expressed deep concern over the Russian Federation’s latest plans to destabilize the Republic of Moldova, demonstrated by Moscow’s recent rhetoric. On intensifying Russian propaganda in Romania, he said that his country’s people must be mindful of the Russian stories they read and question everything — except for Romania’s support for Ukraine. He added that negotiations can only begin when Ukraine is ready, and that “the way victory looks must be defined by Ukraine”.
ZBIGNIEW RAU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, said the truth is that exactly a year ago the Russia Federation decided to start its illegal aggression against Ukraine. The Russian Federation war has been testing international institutions and the international community’s commitment to principles that protect everyone. The Kremlin’s actions are driven by the will to destroy the Ukrainian nation, its heritage and its future. The aggression against Ukraine is not a bilateral or regional issue. “It is a concern of all States,” he said. “We all have a duty to bring these atrocities to an end.” Poland advocates for the full accountability for all violations and compensation for the inflicted damage. He noted that the domestic laws of countries are built on the premise that justice means the protection of the vulnerable against the more powerful. He advocated for the same international rule protecting the vulnerable against powerful villains, in both the legal dimension and political practice. “Let us build a well-ordered international community,” he said. International institutions, with all their resources, must stand on the side of the harmed and execute accountability and compensation from the aggressors, no matter how strong and powerful they are.
PÉTER SZIJJÁRTÓ, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, said as a direct neighbour of Ukraine, his country has experienced the direct impacts of the war in that country and is faced with its tragic consequences on a daily basis. Having received more than 1 million refugees from Ukraine — mostly torn-apart families — Hungary will continue with its large humanitarian action so long as it is needed. The war brings a lot of suffering and does not have winners, only losers, he asserted, noting that the longer this war lasts, the more losers there will be, more damage will occur and more people will be killed. Stressing the importance of avoiding more casualties, he said deliveries of weapons — with further packages of sanctions — do not save lives. “With peace,” however, “we definitely could,” he said. To critics of his Government, he said that they have not lost any lives in this war, unlike the Hungarians, calling for an immediate ceasefire and peace talks to be launched. Peace cannot be made if there are no channels of communication open. “If channels of communications are stopped, the hope for peace is given up,” he said, calling on States to concentrate on how to stop the war and prevent it from escalating into a third world war. In this context, he warned against direct confrontation between NATO and the Russian Federation.
ANNALENA BAERBOCK, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Germany, recalled that, in the General Assembly on 23 February, an overwhelming majority of 141 countries stood united for peace in Ukraine. Today, the eyes of the world are on the Council, the body bearing primary responsibility for maintaining peace and security in the world. “But peace must mean peace”, she underscored, “and subjugation is not peace.” Not naming the aggressor would mean accepting a world in which the mighty rule, and in which bombing schools, kidnapping children and shooting people off their bicycles is part of foreign policy. The United Nations was founded to prevent such a world, and this is why the international community cannot stand idly by. To those that claim that sanctioning the aggressor or supporting Ukraine’s right to self-defence is “adding fuel to the fire”, she said: “I would like to ask you, where would Ukraine — that voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons because it believed in peace — be today if we had not supported its right to defend itself?”. To the representative of the Russian Federation, who asked earlier in the meeting why certain countries think Ukraine would end if it stopped fighting, she said that, one year ago, the Russian President said that he wanted to “demilitarize” Ukraine and, for 365 days and nights, the world saw what that meant. Russian tanks did not bring water, and Russian planes did not drop baby nutrition — they only brought destruction and death. “You can deceive yourself, but you cannot deceive the world,” she stressed, adding: “All who believe in peace must show their true colours now”.
EDGARS RINKĒVIČS (Latvia), speaking on behalf of the Nordic and Baltic countries, said a year has passed since the Russian Federation started its unprovoked full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine, aided by Belarus. “We will never accept Russia’s illegal annexations of Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts,” he asserted, calling on the country to abide by the 16 March 2022 order of the International Court of Justice on provisional measures to immediately suspend its military operations.
Under the Charter of the United Nations, Ukraine has an inherent right of self-defence, he emphasized, adding that the Nordic and Baltic States are determined to enhance Ukraine’s military capabilities and to provide all necessary support. “Unable to defeat Ukraine in the battlefield, Russia terrorizes Ukraine’s civilian population,” he said, citing mass killings, rapes and torture in Bucha and Izium and illegal deportation of children. Against this background, he supported the work of the International Criminal Court to investigate atrocity crimes. In addition, the crime of aggression must be addressed to bring to justice the Russian political and military leadership who masterminded and unleashed this war of aggression against Ukraine. He also expressed deep concern that Moscow uses food and energy as instruments in its warfare.
RUSLAN BOLBOCEAN, State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration of the Republic of Moldova, strongly condemned the Russian Federation’s illegal and unfounded aggression against Ukraine and categorically rejected its attempted annexation of that country’s territories. His country, Ukraine’s most fragile neighbour, has been greatly impacted by this aggression as it is currently on the front line of a hybrid war which has included gas blackmail, cyberattacks, propaganda and disinformation. On several occasions, the Republic of Moldova’s airspace has been violated by Moscow’s missiles and missile debris has also landed on its territory, both of which are absolutely unacceptable, he stressed. Turning to the breakaway Transnistrian region which has recently been in the spotlight, he called on Moscow to withdraw its military forces and illegal munition storages. The Republic of Moldova remains firmly committed to maintaining stability and peace in the region and will promote a political settlement of this conflict based on its sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. His Government also remains committed to its path towards European Union integration as this represents the best way to ensure peace, stability and prosperity. He then reiterated his country’s unwavering support for Ukraine and echoed the calls for the Russian Federation to immediately cease hostilities and withdrawal completely and unconditionally.
WOPKE HOEKSTRA, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, speaking for the Group of Friends of Accountability following the aggression against Ukraine, reiterated the Group’s strong conviction that the power of justice should always prevail over force. Over the past year of the Russian Federation’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, there have been horrendous images and reports of indiscriminate killings; unlawful attacks on civilian infrastructure; sexual and gender-based violence; and the abduction of children. These actions are unacceptable, violate international law and must be met with the same strong response wherever they occur. Accountability and justice for Ukraine, its people and the international community as a whole in that regard is of the utmost importance to ensure a sustainable peace.
“Our quest for justice, our fight against impunity, our fight against violations of international law should not, must not, and cannot be pursued without taking a firm collective stance against the aggressor,” he emphasized as he commended the initiatives under way to ensure accountability. Among other things, forensic missions have been deployed to Ukraine; the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has opened an investigation; the Independent United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has been established; and the Human Rights Monitoring Mission has continued to document violations since 2014. He pointed out that conflict-related sexual violence, including rape as a tactic of war, constitute serious violations of international humanitarian law. Such violence must be countered through effective accountability measures capable of contributing to both deterrence and prevention, he stressed. He then urged the Russian Federation to abide by the International Court of Justice’s 16 March 2022 order which called for the immediate end to its military operations. “We should not just seek accountability for what has already taken place; we must strive to prevent anyone, and I mean anyone, from committing such a violation ever again in Ukraine or elsewhere,” he said.
ANTONIO TAJANI, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy, rejecting the unacceptable references to Europe as a slave to the United States, pointed out that his continent is the homeland of freedom and democracy throughout the world. The Russian Federation’s illegal, unprovoked and unjustified acts of aggression against Ukraine are not only a gross violation of the United Nations Charter and a threat to international security and stability but are also causing global systematic disruption with multiple harmful effects on vulnerable countries in the Global South. That country has profoundly shaken and questioned the roots of the international order, he stressed. As such, he called for an immediate stop to the daily attacks on Ukraine’s people and its critical infrastructure; increased diplomacy; the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative; and the swift establishment of a nuclear safe zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. He also urged the United Nations to become stronger, more representative, democratic and transparent. “We want to work for peace,” he emphasized, adding that: “We are not against the Russian citizens; we are in favour of democracy, in favour of freedom. We want to respect the international rules.”
BUJAR OSMANI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia, recalling that his country co-sponsored the General Assembly resolution, reaffirmed his support to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. He recalled that in his capacity as Chairman in Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) for 2023 he visited Ukraine and saw first-hand the human suffering, destruction and other consequences of the war of aggression. Acknowledging that the findings and investigations lead to the conclusion that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed, he urged that perpetrators be held accountable. He also underlined the importance of the OSCE Moscow Mechanism to establish the facts and circumstances of possible cases of war crimes and expressed support for the investigation of the International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor. Encouraging States to make better use of the work and information gathered by the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, he also urged that access to justice be ensured for the victims of human rights violations. “Our motto for North Macedonia’s OSCE Chairpersonship is: It’s about people! We owe it to them to restore peace immediately!”, he stressed.
JOSÉ MANUEL ALBARES BUENO, Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain, said that his country — like many others who spoke today and yesterday in the General Assembly — calls for the complete, unconditional withdrawal of all Russian military forces from the entirety of Ukraine’s territory. There is no argument whatsoever to justify this aggression, he stressed, condemning the Russian Federation’s indiscriminate shelling of key civilian infrastructure as a violation of international humanitarian law. Those responsible for serious acts must be held accountable, but the Russian Federation’s use of its veto power is preventing the Security Council from exercising its primary function as the guarantor of international peace and security. No country should be able to flout this right for its own purposes “as if it was a blank check to violate international law without consequence”, he stressed. Noting, however, that such veto power does not prevent the international community from reacting, he recalled that the General Assembly spoke clearly on this issue when it reiterated its call for the Russian Federation to withdraw from Ukraine’s territory. Today, the world is not just facing a war in Ukraine and Europe, as the Russian Federation’s unilateral actions also attack the most-basic norms and principles governing relations among States. Against that backdrop, he said that his country wants peace not only for Ukraine and its people, but also “for all of us who defend the UN Charter and international law”.
JAN LIPAVSKÝ, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Czech Republic, noting that his country hosts the highest number of Ukrainian war refugees per capita — nearly half a million, most of them women and children — said that the Russian Federation sees other countries, their freedom, their democracy, or even their statehood, as nothing but “spoils up for grabs” in its colonialist and imperialist ambition. The war it wages has caused shock waves for the world commodity markets, threatening to drive 50 million people to the brink of famine across Africa and other continents. Noting that entire towns and villages have been wiped out, he pointed to President Putin’s recent announcement of the suspension of the New START Treaty. Underscoring that accountability for all crimes must be ensured, he cited the General Assembly resolution adopted yesterday as an expression of the international community’s strong wish for peace. The Peace Formula plan presented by President Zelensky is the one to be built on, he added.
GORDAN GRLIĆ RADMAN, Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia, associating himself with the European Union, pointed out that the full-scale invasion is an escalation of the aggression that began in 2014 with the Russian Federation’s occupation of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Recognizing that the war brought nothing but loss of life, suffering and destruction, including atrocities accompanied by targeted destruction of civilian infrastructure and mass displacement of people, he underscored the importance of accountability. Emphasizing that the deadly war not only aims at conquering Ukraine and stripping it of its independence, he pointed out that it also aims to invalidate the Charter and dismantle global security. Recalling that not so long ago, Croatia was a victim to a very similar war, with almost the same pretext and cynical justification, he stressed that in that difficult situation every bit of help mattered. Acknowledging the importance of the General Assembly resolution adopted by an overwhelming majority, he voiced his opposition accepting normalization of the war. “After a year, they are not getting tired, so shall not we in our support,” he stressed.
URMAS REINSALU, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Estonia, said that his country, as a neighbouring State of the aggressor, has been significantly impacted by the war. Estonia has received tens of thousands of refugees and has been under systematic cyberattacks during the course of war. Recognizing that Kremlin’s goal to erase Ukraine from the map has not changed, he emphasized the need for peace. However, it cannot be peace at all costs, he stressed, urging States to support President Zelenskyy’s 10-point peace plan. Calling on States to collectively ensure that Ukraine can defend itself against the aggressor, he pointed out that Estonia’s military aid has reached 1 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Underscoring that full accountability must be ensured to achieve lasting peace, he called for establishment of an international special tribunal for the crime of aggression in Ukraine. “President Putin, time will come, and you will sit on a tribunal,” he stated, underscoring that not only would a tribunal serve justice to the victims, but it would also prevent future conflicts. Recalling the commemoration of the 105th anniversary of Estonia’s Declaration of Independence on 24 February, he expressed appreciation for his countrymen and women who fought for his country’s freedom and independence.