As War in Ukraine Escalates with Surge of Missile, Drone Attacks, Prospects for Peace Remain ‘Desperately Dim’, Senior Official Tells Security Council
Since her last briefing to the 15-nation organ, the war in Ukraine has escalated while prospects for peace remain “desperately dim” amid a surge in Russian Federation missile barrages and drone attacks, a senior United Nations official warned the Security Council today, as members called for adherence to international humanitarian law and access to civilians impacted by the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam.
Briefing the Council, Rosemary Dicarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, reporting that Russian Federation missile barrages and drone attacks across Ukraine have nearly tripled in May, said that, in the 16 months since the beginning of the Russian Federation invasion, an estimated 9,083 civilians have been killed, including 530 children, and 15,779 have been injured, of which 1,086 were children. However, she emphasized that the actual figures are likely “considerably” higher.
The most significant destruction of civilian infrastructure took place on 6 June when the Kakhovka Dam was damaged, she continued, adding that, although the exact circumstances remain unclear, some 80 communities along the Dnipro River were reportedly flooded, with tens of thousands of people directly affected. Dozens of people lost their lives. Damaged sewer systems and the lack of clean water heighten the risk of waterborne diseases. She urged Russian Federation authorities to ensure unfettered access to all areas in need.
Further, she expressed disappointment at the slowing pace of implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, with food exports dropping from a peak of 4.2 million metric tons in October 2022 to 1.3 million metric tons in May 2023. Also of great concern was the announced deployment of Russian Federation tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. She urged all involved to act responsibly and in accordance with international obligations, stressing that any threat to use nuclear weapons is unacceptable.
As Council members took the floor to discuss the situation in Ukraine, many speakers expressed deep concern that, despite overwhelming calls on the Russian Federation to end its war in the country, the pleas continue to fall on deaf ears.
The United States’ representative noted that the Kremlin was working with Iran to produce unmanned aerial vehicles inside the Russian Federation and using such vehicles on Ukrainian infrastructure and civilians. Questioning why experts have not been dispatched to Ukraine to review evidence of such weapons’ origins, she also stressed that all efforts to broker peace must be rooted in the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inherent right to self-defence. “All of us here would insist on the same if we were in Ukraine’s place,” she emphasized.
An alarming downward spiral is taking hold of the confrontation, Mozambique’s delegate warned. Despite several attempts at mediation — most notably the recent initiative by some African Heads of State and Government — these have been met with scepticism. The price of war in humankind’s history has been always more expensive than the price of peace. Thus, it is fundamental to give “force of reason” a chance, rather than the “reason of force”, he asserted.
Council members also expressed their deepest sympathies to all those affected by the collapse of the Kakhovka Dam, with several outlining their commitment and aid to Ukraine, whether in the form of monetary donations, laptops for displaced children to participate in classes, or critical supplies for newborns and babies.
Japan’s delegate, as did others Council members, also condemned Moscow’s threat to use nuclear weapons as an unacceptable menace to international peace and security. That country must stop its aggression “here and now”, he said, also stressing the need to ensure those responsible for atrocities face justice.
Other delegates, including Brazil’s representative, emphasized that the Russian Federation’s war has widespread consequences beyond Ukraine. Noting the adverse impacts the conflict has on third countries — including those in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean — he pointed out that food and fuel prices have skyrocketed since the conflict’s start.
“Everything must be done to avoid the point of no return,” stressed China’s delegate. He expressed worry over the impact the Ukrainian crisis is having on the recovery of the global economy and on the attainment by developing countries of the Sustainable Development Goals in the post-pandemic era.
However, the representative of the Russian Federation, refuting claims of Moscow using Iranian drones, emphasized that there is “no iota of any credible evidence” on this. His country is doing everything possible to alleviate suffering, while authorities in Kyiv continue to target civilian objects. He insisted Kyiv carried out the attack on the Kakhovka Dam, adding that they have no concern for the interests of their people or the future of their country. Since the tragedy, clear evidence has been provided regarding the responsibility of the Zelenskyy regime and its Western sponsors.
Ukraine’s delegate rebutted that accusing President Putin’s “criminal regime” of blowing up the Kakhovka Dam in an attempt to prevent Ukraine’s possible counteroffensive actions. The Russian Federation, refusing to rescue civilians in the affected areas, also declined the United Nations request to access these areas. He also sounded the alarm that — according to intelligence information — Moscow is considering a terrorist attack at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station with radiation leakage. Appeasement options — such as territorial concessions — will only serve as delayed-action mines, “with the detonator in the hands of the Kremlin”, he stressed.
The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:18 p.m.
ROSEMARY DICARLO, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that, 16 months since the beginning of the full-scale Russian Federation invasion, prospects for peace remain desperately dim. “Indeed, since the last time I briefed the Council on Ukraine, the war has escalated,” she said. Russian Federation missile barrages and drone attacks across Ukraine have nearly tripled in May. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 24,862 civilian casualties to date, with 9,083 civilians killed, including 530 children, and 15,779 injured, of which 1,086 were children. “The actual figures are likely considerably higher,” she noted. Since February 2022, OHCHR has verified a total of 1,036 attacks impacting educational and medical facilities. Some 649 attacks occurred on territory controlled by the Government of Ukraine, 301 on territory occupied by the Russian Federation and 86 on a territory that was contested at the time of the attack.
The most significant destruction of civilian infrastructure to date took place on 6 June when the Kakhovka Dam was damaged, she continued. While the exact circumstances remain unclear, this is a catastrophe that will have massive adverse consequences. Some 80 communities along the Dnipro River were reportedly flooded, with tens of thousands of people directly affected. Dozens of people have lost their lives. The Kakhovka Reservoir — one of Europe’s largest and a source of drinking water for at least 700,000 people — has lost 70 per cent of its capacity, according to Ukrainian authorities. Concerns continue to mount that the floodwaters could shift landmines into previously cleared areas. Damaged sewer systems and the lack of clean water heighten the risk of waterborne diseases. Inundated farmland is a further blow to the already beleaguered agriculture sector. In response, the United Nations and humanitarian partners have rushed to deliver supplies and evacuation support for people in the affected area.
“We are deeply disturbed by reports that evacuating civilians and emergency personnel have been shelled,” she underlined, warning: “There are still people we are unable to reach, especially in low-lying communities under Russian control.” She urged Russian Federation authorities to ensure unfettered access to all areas in need. On the reported damage to the Tolyatti-Odesa pipeline, the world's largest ammonia conduit in Ukraine's Kharkiv region, she reiterated that attacks against civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international law. All such attacks must stop immediately, whether they be on Ukrainian or Russian Federation territory. Further, OHCHR has documented 158 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, with the majority committed by members of Russian Federation armed forces and penitentiary system personnel. She also expressed deep concern over cases of forcible transfers of protected persons, including children, to territories of Ukraine under Russian Federation control and consequent deportations to the Russian Federation.
While the Black Sea Grain Initiative has enabled the safe transportation of over 32 million metric tons of foodstuffs, helping to drive down global food prices, she expressed disappointment at the slowing pace of its implementation. Food exports through the maritime humanitarian corridor have dropped from a peak of 4.2 million metric tons in October 2022 to 1.3 million metric tons in May 2023. On the announced deployment of Russian Federation tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus, she urged all involved to act responsibly and in accordance with international obligations. “We reiterate that any threat to use nuclear weapons is unacceptable,” she said, pledging United Nations support to all meaningful efforts to bring a just and sustainable peace to Ukraine. “In this we are guided by the UN Charter, international law and relevant General Assembly resolutions, as the Secretary-General emphasized during his visit to Ukraine in March and as I reiterated last week in Moscow,” she said.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said that the number of civilian casualties is being added to daily while millions are still refugees in the neighbouring countries and many others are internally displaced. War crimes and crimes against humanity — including conflict-related sexual violence — have been meticulously documented. Residential areas and critical civilian infrastructure continue to be under constant attack, with Kyiv experiencing increased attacks by missiles and illegal Iranian drones. Also sounding the alarm over the killing and maiming of hundreds of children by the Russian Federation forces, he voiced concern over the Russian Federation’s new law pardoning prisoners and criminals if they join the army fighting in Ukraine. The practice of recruiting criminals, killers and rapists and giving them weapons and a license to kill indicates that “the Russian army is being Wagnerized”. Further, he pointed to Moscow’s intention to hold “elections” in September in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, reiterating his Government’s position not to recognize any territories acquired by force and their attempted annexation.
LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), stating that the Kremlin is now working with Iran to produce unmanned aerial vehicles inside the Russian Federation, pointed out that that Moscow has used such vehicles on Ukrainian infrastructure and civilians over recent weeks. Stressing that resolution 2231 (2015) must be implemented, she noted there has been no explanation as to why experts have not been dispatched to Ukraine to review evidence of such weapons’ origins. Meanwhile, Moscow publicly feigns deep concern over attacks on critical infrastructure as Russian missiles and drones reduce entire Ukrainian cities to rubble. Spotlighting the more than 140 countries that have repeatedly voted to condemn the Russian Federation’s “war of choice” and to support a just and lasting peace in Ukraine, she underscored that all efforts to broker peace must be rooted in the principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the inherent right to self-defence. “All of us here would insist on the same if we were in Ukraine’s place,” she emphasized.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) expressed his deepest sympathies to all those affected by the collapse of the dam at Kakhovka Hydroelectric power plant and expressed deep concerns over the reported shelling during the evacuation. On the assistance front, Japan will provide approximately 160 water purifiers, 30 drain pumps, 4,000 plastic water containers and 20 large water tanks, as well as 530 generators and 30 construction machines to help aid the situation on the ground. The Russian Federation must no longer be able to weaponize the availability of energy and food supplies. “Our support for Ukraine will not waver,” he emphasized, adding that any attempt to change the status of territory by force or coercion must be rejected. He also condemned Moscow’s threat to use nuclear weapons as an unacceptable menace to the peace and security of the international community. The Russian Federation must stop its aggression “here and now”, he said, stressing the need to ensure those responsible for atrocities face justice.
MARTINS KUMANGA (Mozambique) warned that an alarming downward spiral is taking hold of the confrontation manifested in a dangerous arms race, millions of refugees and internally displaced and destruction of civilian infrastructure. Despite several attempts at mediation — most notably the recent initiative by some African Heads of State and Government — these have been met with scepticism. This testifies to the high level of mistrust between the contending parties without whom attempts at peace are condemned to fail. The price of war in humankind’s history has been always more expensive than the price of peace. For that purpose, it is fundamental to give “force of reason” a chance, rather than the “reason of force”, he asserted. Moreso, this conflict has gone too far, he said, voicing concern over miscalculated decisions by nations involved directly and indirectly and calling for the immediate cessation of hostilities and the return to direct negotiations between the parties.
NORBERTO MORETTI (Brazil) expressed concern over risks to the integrity of nuclear facilities in Zaporizhzhia, especially after the rupture of the Kakhovka Dam. Underscoring that avoiding damage to the nuclear power plant is an imperative, he urged the parties to collaborate to ensure the supply of water for cooling reactors and spent fuel. He also echoed the call for Russian Federation authorities to facilitate access to areas under their control, as thousands on both sides of the Dnipro depend on United Nations humanitarian assistance. Noting the multiplying international voices in favour of an immediate cessation of hostilities, he underlined the adverse impacts this conflict has on third countries — including those in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. Sustainable peace, he underscored, “cannot result from the imposition of unilateral terms, under the coercion of arms, on either side”. Urging the parties to avoid entrenching in their positions, he emphasized that the policy of isolation and imposition of unilateral sanctions has already demonstrated its limits.
GENG SHUANG (China) said that every effort must be made to prevent the situation from spiralling out of control. The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam “reminds us that if the fighting is left to drag there will only be more major risks and any horrible scenario could materialize”. Both parties to the conflict must stay calm and the international community must refrain from escalating tensions. “Everything must be done to avoid the point of no return,” he stressed. Further, he said that China is worried about the impact of the Ukrainian crisis on the recovery of the global economy and on the attainment by developing countries of the Sustainable Development Goals in the post-pandemic era. The Black Sea Grain Initiative must be implemented, he emphasized, expressing hope that countries that love peace and uphold justice will send rational messages in promotion of peace talks. “The door to the political settlement to the Ukrainian crisis must not close,” he added.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) condemned Moscow’s missile attacks that have again hit residential areas in several Ukrainian cities, stressing that the perpetrators must be brought to justice. Further, she voiced deep concern over the humanitarian, ecological and economic consequences of the flooding caused by the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam. The lack of drinking water is compounded by the risk posed by mines and explosive remnants of war displaced by the water, complicating the delivery of humanitarian aid and humanitarian demining. Accordingly, she urged the Russian Federation to facilitate unhindered humanitarian access to Ukrainian territories currently under its control. The destruction of the dam increases the risk of further escalation, including a nuclear incident, she warned, calling on both parties to the conflict to comply strictly with international humanitarian law protecting civilian objects, as well as works and installations containing dangerous forces.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) stressed that President Vladimir V. Putin’s Government, in its attempt to take control of Ukraine, has “shown its true colours” — a pattern of torture, killings and brutal repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Recently, it rejected pleas from the United Nations to assist those in need following the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. She spotlighted President Putin’ contempt and disregard for the Charter of the United Nations, along with his indifference to the cost to Ukrainians, Russians and the world, firing missiles at Kyiv even as world leaders visited Moscow seeking to build peace. Further, he supplies his armies from States sanctioned by the United Nations, such as Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and continues to hold the world’s food ransom by holding up grain shipments under the Black Sea Grain Initiative. “The world needs peace, but Ukraine will never have peace while Russian forces remain on its territory,” she said.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said that letting this war continue is tantamount to gambling with the lives of civilians, including children. Gabon resolutely rejects this war and calls on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and not to use civilian infrastructure for military purposes. The Black Sea Grain Initiative shows that diplomacy always ultimately triumphs, he pointed out, also hailing the work of United Nations agencies who have undertaken massive effort to protect civilians on the ground. He recognized the important role of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in assisting civilians in Ukraine and specifically underscored its important work in assisting prisoners of war. All parties must prioritize dialogue with a view to finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. “There is no credible alternative to dialogue and negotiations to ultimately achieve a cessation of hostilities and restore the peaceful coexistence of warring parties,” he said.
CAROLYN OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana) said that civilians, on a daily basis, suffer the consequences of a war they never asked for. From the onset of the war in February 2022 to 4 June 2023, OHCHR has recorded not less than 24,000 civilian casualties, with close to 9,000 people killed and 15,000 more injured. These numbers, along with the widespread destruction of infrastructure across Ukraine, point to the gravity and abject futility of the war and reinforce the urgency of action needed to end it now rather than later. Spotlighting challenges brought about by the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Dam, she voiced concern over the heightened risk of water-borne and hygiene-related diseases and food security. As well, the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is extremely fragile, she said, calling on the warring parties to adhere to basic principles designed to prevent a nuclear incident that would be catastrophic for Ukraine and the world at large.
VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta) expressed concern that the Russian Federation has declined the United Nations request to access temporarily occupied areas to provide humanitarian assistance. She urged Moscow to act in accordance with its obligations under international humanitarian law and to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those suffering because of the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. Also pointing out that risks currently posed to nuclear safety and security in Ukraine are direct consequences of the Russian Federation’s illegal war, she called for the return of full control over the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to competent Ukrainian authorities. She also spotlighted the importance of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, “which extends beyond Ukraine”. This process must be secured beyond July to alleviate pressures on food security all over the globe. Urging the Russian Federation to immediately cease all hostilities and unconditionally withdraw its forces from Ukraine, she stressed that “this is the only step that can lead towards a just and lasting peace”.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) expressed alarm that, despite resounding calls of the international community on the Russian Federation to cease its military operations against Ukraine, attacks against that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity continue. These attacks undermine the efforts of the international community to bring about a fairer world. The call continues to fall on deaf years. He called for an end to programmes that have initiated the placement of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus and demanded that the Russian Federation allow humanitarian access to people in need. All parties must uphold international humanitarian law. The war continues to cause suffering in Ukraine and around the world, including in terms of energy supply and food security. This is all happening in the context of an absurd increase in global military expenditures. He reiterated Ecuador’s support for the stellar work of the United Nations, namely with the Black Sea Grain Initiative, along with efforts to release prisoners and increase nuclear safety.
ISIS JARAUD DARNAULT (France) said the Russian Federation persists in its cynical strategy to destroy Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, with relentless attacks on Ukraine’s major cities. Last Friday, it targeted Kyiv and its region while a mission of African leaders were promoting a peace initiative. As well, a new threshold was breached with the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam, which constitutes the most serious attack on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure since the start of the conflict. Moscow continues to wield aggressive nuclear rhetoric, she cautioned, adding that, a week ago, President Putin announced that he had transferred the first nuclear weapons to Belarusian territory, thus aggravating an already unstable situation. Against this backdrop, she underlined the need to support Ukraine in order for the country to carry out an effective counteroffensive and exercise its right to self-defence, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said that the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam has irrevocably damaged ecosystems and directly affected people living in impacted regions. Those in Kyiv are responsible for this terrorist attack, as they have no concern for the interests of their people or the future of their country. Since the tragedy, clear evidence has been provided regarding the responsibility of the Zelenskyy regime and its Western sponsors. Meanwhile, the United Nations laments the lack of access to the Russian Federation’s territory. Since February 2022, the Russian Federation has actively advanced the pursuit of international humanitarian assistance, through the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to the civilian population in the Donbass. However, many such proposals were denied. This demonstrates the double standards and openly political humanitarian agendas being advanced at the United Nations.
The Russian Federation is doing everything possible to alleviate suffering, while authorities in Kyiv continue to target civilian objects, he stated, adding that these egregious violations are not considered as the “United Nations is attempting to sweep them under the rug”. Further, the Organization is trying to keep the Black Sea Grain Initiative afloat despite its commercial — not humanitarian — nature. While the Russian Federation stands ready to continue helping developing countries in need, he underscored that “covering commercial supplies of grain from Ukraine to Western States under slogans of protecting the interests of those in need is something we refuse to do”. Regarding the Kakhovka Dam, he said that, given its failing counteroffensive, the Kyiv regime has resorted to one of its “favourite practices” — drawing Western attention to high‑profile crimes, blamed on the Russian Federation. Turning to the issue of Iranian drones, he said that “no iota of any credible evidence” on this has been provided by the Kyiv regime, expressing hope that the Secretary-General “has sufficient wisdom not to be misled”.
LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates), Council President for June, spoke in her national capacity to urge the renewal of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and encourage the implementation of the Memorandum of Understanding on Russian Federation fertilizers and food products. Noting her country’s unwavering humanitarian support to all people affected by the conflict, she said that the United Arab Emirates is distributing $100 million of aid for Ukraine, including generators and supplies for newborns and babies. “The weight of war falls heaviest on children,” she said, expressing deep alarm at the reports of violations against children in Ukraine. All parties must meet their obligations for the protection of civilians caught up in conflict. The safety of humanitarians responding to the Kakhovka Dam flooding must also be assured. Further, she welcomed the continued efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to avoid a nuclear accident.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) recalled that, two weeks ago, President Putin’s “criminal regime” blew up the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant Dam in an attempt to prevent Ukraine’s possible counteroffensive actions across the Dnipro River. Since then, Ukraine has done utmost to mitigate the consequences of this act of terror, evacuating people, providing them with humanitarian aid and ensuring their access to drinking water. The Russian Federation refused to rescue the local population in the affected areas under its temporary military control and declined the United Nations request to access these areas. It continues to attempt to undermine the humanitarian operations in Ukraine-controlled areas with unabated shelling, he said, reporting that, on 20 June, a rescue team of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine came under fire in Kherson, resulting in the death of one rescuer.
A comprehensive assessment of this act of terror —“one of the biggest man-made disasters in Europe in decades” — is yet to be made, he said, noting that 150 tons of oil pollutants are drifting along the Dnipro River and may reach the Mediterranean while 20,000 wild animals that inhabited the flooded area could hardly survive. He sounded the alarm that — according to intelligence information — Moscow is considering a scenario of a terrorist attack at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station with radiation leakage. Accordingly, he urged the international community to step up pressure on the Russian Federation to prevent these menacing developments, introducing strengthened restrictive measures against that country’s nuclear industry and military industrial complex. He emphasized that appeasement options — such as territorial concessions to the Russian Federation and temporary freezing of the conflict — will only serve as delayed-action mines, “with the detonator in the hands of the Kremlin”. Underscoring that Ukraine “will liberate all its territories”, he said that, despite the war being at its height, the post-war recovery has already started.
RYTIS PAULAUSKAS (Lithuania), also speaking for Estonia and Latvia, cited a World Bank estimate that $411 billion over the next decade will be needed to reconstruct the damage caused by the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. This staggering amount, however, does not incorporate the consequences of Moscow’s destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. It is unacceptable, he stressed, that, despite the United Nations’ repeated calls on the Russian Federation to ensure humanitarian access to all civilians impacted by the Dam’s destruction, this has not been provided. Further, Moscow continues to hinder the export of Ukrainian goods from Ukrainian ports, thereby contributing to a significant increase in food prices on global markets. Meanwhile, it continues to manipulate facts and repeatedly threaten to end the Black Sea Grain Initiative if its demands are not met. However, he pointed out that, according to available statistics, the Russian Federation’s exports of grain and fertilizers have been consistently high in recent years. In the case of grains, such exports have even reached record levels, and in 2022, due to higher prices, that country’s export revenues from fertilizers increased by 70 to 150 per cent. Against that backdrop, he underscored that the Russian Federation must stop blackmailing the global community and allow the Initiative to operate at its maximum potential.
MATEUSZ SAKOWICZ (Poland) said that, for close to 500 days and nights, the Russian Federation has been ruthlessly pursuing its brutal aggression against Ukraine. “During that whole time, it has also cynically dismissed all the appeals for stopping the bloodshed,” he added. The Russian Federation must bear the full cost of the destruction its aggression has caused. “After 16 months, it is obvious that what Russia cannot take, it will try to destroy,” he said, calling for the creation of the comprehensive registry of all damages inflicted by the Russian Federation’s invasion. He commended the Ukraine Recovery Conference that took place in London over the last two days. Its aim was to prepare a political, legal and financial base that would enable comprehensive assistance for reconstruction to be provided to Ukraine. Ukraine needs to be able to decide by itself which international partners it wants to build its prosperity with. Only a complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian Federation forces from the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine can provide a chance for a just and stable peace facilitating a long-term solution for global economic recovery and an improvement in the food situation.
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic), also speaking for Slovakia and associating himself with the European Union, said that the Russian Federation has demonstrated, time and again, that it has no interest in effective multilateralism and maintenance of international peace and security. Strongly condemning Moscow’s attacks, including the deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, he asked: “How many lives must be lost or ruined for this senseless war to stop?” For the Russian Federation, the death toll — which keeps rising from one Security Council briefing to another — is apparently “just a number on the paper”. Its disregard for international humanitarian law and human rights is also evident in its ongoing repression against its own citizens. He also expressed deep concern about the destruction of Nova Kachovka Dam, and reports of the Russian Federation forces shelling Ukrainian rescue workers who were trying to reach flooded areas in the Kherson region. He called on that country to stop its aggression immediately and withdraw its troops from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, including Crimea and regions where the Russian Federation orchestrated its “sham referenda”. Further, he underscored the need to hold accountable those who committed the most serious crimes under international law in Ukraine, including rape and sexual violence against women and girls.
BJORN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, expressed grave concern over the human rights situation in occupied territories. International monitoring mechanisms have concluded that Russian Federation authorities have committed a wide range of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. Calling on Moscow to uphold such laws, he stressed that its practice of forcibly issuing Russian Federation passports to Ukrainian citizens is a blatant violation of international law that undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty. He also urged Moscow to cease shelling evacuation teams rescuing civilians following the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam and allow help to the affected civilian population — including in areas under the control of the Russian Federation’s military. The impact of Moscow’s aggression on children is “particularly horrific”, he added, noting that his delegation looks forward to the imminent publication of the Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict.
He went on to underscore the bloc’s commitment to ensuring full accountability for war crimes and other serious crimes committed in connection with the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Coordinated accountability initiatives to combat and ensure justice are important, he stressed voiding support for ongoing work to establish a tribunal for the prosecution of the crime of aggression, as well as an international mechanism to register the damages the Russian Federation has inflicted. Further, he emphasized that the European Union calls for a just, comprehensive and lasting peace, in line with the United Nations Charter and relevant General Assembly resolutions. Stressing that Council members “must distinguish between the victim and the aggressor”, he noted that Ukraine has the right to self-defence under the Charter to restore its territorial integrity. It also has the right to request international support for such efforts, and he added that “the [European Union] is committed to support Ukraine in this regard for as long as it takes”.