Briefing Security Council on Attacks against Ukrainian Village, City Centre, Senior Official Stresses Member States Must Show Commitment to UN Charter
Member States must demonstrate in their actions, not just in words, their commitment to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, particularly the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all States, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today as she detailed last week’s attacks on the Ukrainian village of Hroza and the city centre of Kharkiv.
Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, speaking to the Council via videoconference, reported that on 5 October, the small village of Hroza in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region suffered one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The attack, which reportedly killed at least 52 people when a missile hit a shop and cafe, wiped out a sixth of Hroza’s population. Less than 24 hours later, missiles struck buildings in the city centre of Kharkiv, wounding 28 people, including an 11-month-old infant.
The recent attacks in this region add to “an already unbearable toll of civilian casualties resulting from Russia’s invasion — a war launched in violation of the UN Charter and international law,” she continued. Condemning such attacks, she recalled Member States’ recommitment to the Charter of the United Nations in the General Assembly last month. A just solution to the war lies in adhering to that basic obligation with deeds, not just with words, she said, warning that failure to do so would be at the world’s peril.
Joyce Msuya, Assistant Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, reported that the Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, visited the Hroza community a day after the attack; UN and humanitarian organizations have been on the scene, alongside local authorities, providing assistance and support. Citing the latest figures from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights that recorded 27,768 civilian casualties across Ukraine, including the deaths of 560 children, she called on international partners to do more in addressing humanitarian need across Ukraine.
In the ensuing debate, many speakers condemned the attack in Hroza and attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, stressing that those acts are a violation of international law. Some delegations urged the parties to the conflict to engage in dialogue, while others, squarely holding the Russian Federation responsible for the war, called on it to immediately cease all hostilities and unconditionally and completely withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine.
“Once again the Council is meeting to react to a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law by one of its permanent members, Russia,” France’s representative stated. Strongly condemning the Russian Federation’s missile strikes in the Kharkiv region, he stressed that nothing could justify those acts, which constitute war crimes. It is the international community’s collective duty to do everything it can to end that country’s aggression, he emphasized.
Switzerland’s representative was among speakers who voiced concern about the impact of attacks against civilians, underscoring that the principles of precaution and proportionality must be respected and that indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law and must cease immediately. Conflict must always distinguish between civilians and combatants, and between civilian objects and military objectives, she pointed out.
Some delegates, including those of Gabon and the United Arab Emirates, voiced concern about the extensive damage to critical infrastructure and its impact on the provision of electricity and heating, particularly with winter approaching. Both speakers spotlighted the vital work of humanitarian actors, with the United Arab Emirates’ delegate stressing that all relevant authorities must ensure that humanitarian actors and facilities receive the protections afforded to them under international humanitarian law.
Meanwhile, the representatives of Albania and the United States both drew attention to tomorrow’s election of new members to the Human Rights Council, with the latter noting that the Russian Federation is seeking election to that body despite its own human rights violations. Its election would be “an ugly stain” that would undermine the credibility of that institution and the United Nations, he stressed.
Each passing day of the war, said Ecuador’s representative, is another day of mourning. Urging the Russian Federation to end the invasion which continues to inflict so much pain and suffering, he also called on the Council to give the Secretary-General more tools to bring about a peaceful solution, based on respect for the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
However, the representative of the Russian Federation said that holding his country responsible for strikes to civilian objects seem to coincide with Western officials’ visits to Ukraine or with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visits abroad pestering for money and weapons. Asking his Western colleagues if they understood that the Kyiv junta is transmitting fake news through them, he emphasized that the Russian Federation does not strike civilian objects and only uses its weapons to destroy military equipment.
Ukraine’s representative, countering that claim, underscored that the Russian Federation is trying to “cosplay its role model — the Third Reich, by killing people, attempting to annex territories, and trying to whitewash its aggression by pretending to defend themselves from imaginary attacks”. Also observing that the Russian Federation is seeking a place on the Human Rights Council, he said: “Any vote in favour of its candidacy will be a bullet in the UN’s body, already mutilated by Russia.”
Also joining the Council’s briefing today were Hedda Samson, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, as well as representatives of the Czech Republic, Romania, Poland and Latvia, who voiced their support for Ukraine. Latvia’s delegate, who also spoke for Estonia and Lithuania, stressed: “The sole responsibility for this war lays on Russia. That country started the war, and it alone can and must end it immediately.”
MAINTENANCE OF PEACE AND SECURITY OF UKRAINE
ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, via videoconference, reported that on 5 October, the small village of Hroza in the Kupiansk district of Ukraine’s Kharkiv region suffered one of the deadliest attacks on civilians since the beginning of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The attack, which reportedly killed at least 52 people when a missile hit a shop and cafe, wiped out a sixth of Hroza’s population. UN human rights experts on the ground have been able to collect the names of 35 people who were killed — 19 women, 15 men and an 8-year-old boy. Reiterating the Secretary-General’s strong condemnation of the heinous attack, she reported that less than 24 hours later, missiles struck buildings in the centre of the city of Kharkiv — Ukraine’s second largest city, where 28 people were reportedly wounded, including an 11-month-old infant.
“The recent attacks in Kharkiv add to an already unbearable toll of civilian casualties resulting from Russia’s invasion — a war launched in violation of the UN Charter and international law,” she underscored, reporting that, as of 5 October, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) verified that 9,806 civilians, including 560 children, have been killed as a result of the war. The Office has also verified that 17,962 people, including 1,196 children, have been injured. “The actual figures are very likely considerably higher and, tragically, will continue to rise if current patterns continue,” she noted. In recent weeks, civilians and civilian infrastructure across Ukraine have remained under nearly constant fire, with residents of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Lviv, Sumy, Donetsk, Odesa, Kyiv and other regions facing unrelenting and often indiscriminate attacks. Moreover, on Friday, a Russian drone attack damaged a grain silo in the Izmail district of the Odesa region — the latest in a series of strikes on Ukrainian grain infrastructure.
International humanitarian law obligates parties to armed conflict to protect non-combatants and unambiguously prohibits attacks targeting civilians or civilian infrastructure, she stressed, declaring: “We will not tire of condemning such attacks or waver in calling for accountability for anyone responsible for harming civilians during hostilities.” Detailing OHCHR’s latest report covering the period between 1 February and 31 July, she said that the most serious human rights violations are attributed to the Russian Federation’s armed forces and include acts of conflict-related sexual violence. The Office also noted concern over recent legislation in the Russian Federation that would grant amnesty to Russian servicepersons for a broad range of crimes. “Under international law, the Russian Federation has an obligation to investigate and prosecute potential war crimes and gross human rights violations committed by its forces in Ukraine,” she pointed out.
“From the beginning of this senseless war, we have warned about the grave risks it poses to Ukraine, the region and the world,” she recalled, voicing concern about recent reports regarding the widespread use of sea mines that could threaten civilian navigation. “A military incident in the Black Sea, whether intentional or by accident, could further destabilize the region,” she warned, calling once again for restraint to avoid worsening the already volatile situation. Recalling Member States’ recommitment, heard during this year’s General Assembly, to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations, including respect for all States’ sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, she stressed that a just solution to the war lies in adhering to that basic obligation with deeds, not just with words. “It is not too late to restore the integrity of our Charter and international law. We fail to do so at the world’s peril,” she warned.
JOYCE MSUYA, Assistant Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said that last Thursday’s attack on Hroza village in the Kupiansk district of the Kharkiv region was one of the deadliest since the escalation of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine 593 days ago. The attack left 52 civilians dead, injured many more, damaged homes and wiped out entire families. The Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Denise Brown, visited the community a day after the attack. Reporting that everybody in the small community has been affected, considering the high number of casualties, she said that UN and humanitarian organizations have been on the scene, alongside local authorities, providing assistance, including psychosocial support and emergency repair materials for those whose homes were damaged, as well as medical items.
Citing the latest figures from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights that recorded 27,768 civilian casualties across Ukraine, including the deaths of 560 children, with the true toll likely being higher, she echoed the Secretary-General’s strong condemnation of this attack, and his demand that all attacks against civilians immediately stop. Reiterating that under international humanitarian law, attacks directed at civilians or civilian objects or that are indiscriminate are strictly prohibited, she said that attacks against humanitarian workers have also risen dramatically, with the number of workers killed on duty tripling from 4 in 2022 to 11 so far this year.
Due to continuing Russian strikes against Ukraine’s port infrastructure and grain storage facilities on the Black Sea and the Danube River, and its threats against merchant shipping in the Black Sea, she stressed that food exports from the Russian Federation and Ukraine passing through the Black Sea remain critical to global food security and the stabilization of global food prices. Amid intensifying global food insecurity, it is crucial that Ukraine’s Black Sea ports be able to operate at their full capacity, and that safe navigation be assured for inbound and outbound traffic, especially for food. Therefore, she said that the attacks on ports — the last of which occurred on Friday — are entirely unacceptable and must stop.
Last year, attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure left millions of civilians without access to heat, electricity and water in the harsh winter months, she recalled, adding: “It is disturbing to see that similar attacks have already been reported over the past weeks.” Women and girls continue to face pervasive levels of gender-based violence, she noted, underlining the growing need for sexual and reproductive health services in response. Against this backdrop, in the first eight months of 2023, 8.3 million people received humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, with donors funding almost 52 per cent of the humanitarian response plan for the country. Highlighting the efforts of 500 humanitarian partners aiming to reach 11.1 million people in 2023, she called on international partners to do more in addressing humanitarian need across Ukraine, including the nearly 4 million people living in areas under the military control of the Russian Federation.
FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said that the Russian Federation is not listening to calls to stop the war and, instead, is “trying desperately to convince the world that black is white through a relentless propaganda machine gone full swing. Every absurdity is fair game.” The Russian Federation’s aims would mean simply going backwards, undoing progress and achievements, returning to times long since passed. He warned that at tomorrow’s General Assembly ballot to elect new members of the Human Rights Council, States should think twice before casting their vote. Countries that are aggressors of their neighbours, deliberate destroyers of civilian infrastructure, ports and grains silos, who use torture and sexual violence as weapons and who deport children and take pride in doing so, “have no place in the Human Rights Council”, he pointed out.
FRANCESCA MARIA GATT (Malta) condemned the deplorable acts recently seen in Ukraine against civilians and civilian infrastructure, stressing that there is no justification for them. Intentional attacks against civilians are prohibited under international law and amount to war crimes. “Perpetrators of such atrocities must be held accountable, and we support all efforts to this end, including the ongoing ICC [International Criminal Court] and ICJ [International Court of Justice] processes,” she said, adding that international humanitarian law and the rules on conduct of hostilities must be fully respected. She called for the Russian Federation to immediately cease all hostilities and unconditionally, completely withdraw all its forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, so that a just and lasting peace can prevail. Until then, her country will continue standing in solidarity with Ukraine and its people, she said.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) stressed: “Once again the Council is meeting to react to a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law by one of its permanent members, Russia.” He strongly condemned the Russian Federation’s missile strike which hit civilians in Groza in the Kharkiv region, stressing that nothing could justify those acts, which constitute war crimes. It is the international community’s collective duty to do everything it can to end that country’s aggression, he emphasized, noting that the Russian Federation’s repeated violations of international law are only aggravating its isolation. Ukraine, on the other hand, continues to rally more and more countries around its vision of a just and lasting peace, he pointed out. France, together with its partners, will continue to provide humanitarian, economic and military support to Ukraine, so that it can exercise its right to self-defence as enshrined in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, he said.
GENG SHUANG (China), voicing concern over mounting civilian casualties, underscored that the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure is paramount. He renewed his call on the parties to the conflict to exercise calm and restraint and to abide by the principles of necessity, distinction and proportionality. Expressing his concern regarding the Ukraine crisis and its spillover effects, as well as the continued suffering of civilians, he called for engagement to be stepped up with a view to holding early peace talks. Countries with influence must play a constructive role without aggravating tensions. He also called on all parties to work together to ease the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine and said that his country will play a constructive role in the eventual political settlement to the Ukraine crisis.
HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador) said that each passing day of the war is another day of mourning. The Russian Federation must end the invasion which continues to inflict so much pain and suffering. He condemned the recent attack in the Kharkiv region. Stressing that accountability was needed, he asked how much more critical infrastructure needs to be destroyed, how many more parks for children need to be eliminated and how many more children need to die before the Russian Federation ends this invasion. Underscoring the need for respect of international law, he urged the Council to give the Secretary-General more tools to bring about a peaceful solution based on respect for the sovereignty, unity, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders, which extend to its territorial waters.
PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) stressed that the parties to the conflict must always distinguish between civilians and combatants, and between civilian objects and military objectives. Furthermore, when military targets are attacked, the principles of precaution and proportionality must be respected, she stated, emphasizing that indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks are prohibited by international humanitarian law and must cease immediately. Ensuring justice and accountability for all those responsible for these crimes, at all levels, requires credible and timely investigations, documentation and criminal prosecution of those responsible for violations of international law. As such, the deployment of a field team by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate the attack in Hroza is an important and concrete step in this direction. She urged the Russian Federation to de-escalate the situation, cease its combat operations and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.
BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) said the latest attack by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, in which more than 50 people were killed in the small village of Hroza, demonstrates the depths of depravity Russian forces are willing to sink to. She also spotlighted a report from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, which found that the 28 July 2022 attack that killed more than 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war at Olenivka was launched from Russian-controlled territory, and that the Russian Federation was holding those prisoners in a manner in contravention of international humanitarian law, contrary to claims made by that country in the Council. “Russia’s words in this Council are worth nothing to those who want to understand the costs of its aggression against Ukraine,” she observed. Noting that the body of evidence of Moscow’s breaches of international law continues to grow, she emphasized: “Just as Russian claims about the attack at Olenivka have been disproved, the truth will catch up with Russia’s lies.”
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States), recalling that thousands of civilians have been killed in attacks in Ukraine, condemned the recent attack in the Kharkiv region. He expressed support for United Nations human rights monitoring in Ukraine and for local investigators who are gathering evidence of possible war crimes. However, the Russian Federation continues to trample on international law, he said, also noting that the country is seeking election to the Human Rights Council despite its own human rights violations. Its election would be “an ugly stain” that would undermine the credibility of that institution and the United Nations, he said, adding that the Russian Federation “denies and shifts blame” for its crimes, yet its own actions make it unfit to serve on the Human Rights Council. He called on the Russian Federation to stop attacks and withdraw from Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory. He added that it alone has the power to stop the war it so senselessly started.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), echoing other speakers, offered condolences to the families and loved ones of those lost in Hroza and Kharkiv. “International humanitarian law is unequivocal: civilians and civilian objects can never be the target of attacks and the fundamental principles of proportionality and distinction must be respected.” Voicing concern about the extensive damage and destruction of critical infrastructure throughout Ukraine, particularly with winter approaching, he said that the provision of electricity and heating during the coming months will be critical for the health and safety of civilians. He underlined the importance of facilitating the life-saving work of first responders and humanitarian organizations who continue to provide vital services to those wounded and displaced by the conflict. All relevant authorities must ensure that humanitarian actors and facilities receive the protections afforded to them under international humanitarian law, he said.
MARTINS MARIANO KUMANGA (Mozambique) voiced regret that the conflict in Ukraine is worsening, despite calls for a cessation of hostilities. The longer the conflict persists, the more catastrophic its consequences become. The contending parties must take all necessary measures to protect civilians and public infrastructure, in line with international law. In this context, he called for the immediate cessation of the conflict, the resumption of direct negotiations between the main parties and the adoption of a constructive, inclusive and results-oriented approach that focuses on mutual benefit rather than a zero-sum perspective.
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said that the recent attack in the Kharkiv region adds to the terrible list of suffering in Ukraine. As well, bombings and drone attacks had intensified in the last week. He expressed concern for the stability of the electric system as winter approaches, which, if it fails, could plunge people into a worse, unacceptable situation. War is not a law-free situation and actors must adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law, he stressed, also endorsing the Secretary-General’s call upon States to apply new international rules concerning autonomous weapons systems. Further, new red lines, defined globally, and tighter regulations to reduce their effects were needed. He called on parties to facilitate the movement of humanitarian workers and allow access to areas needing humanitarian assistance. He also urged all parties to participate in dialogue and create good faith conditions for the cessation of hostilities and a lasting peace.
CAROLYN ABENA ANIMA OPPONG-NTIRI (Ghana), stressing that humanitarian principles of distinction, proportionality and necessity must be respected at all times without variation, said there must be accountability for the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. She further urged independent, transparent and thorough investigations into the Hroza attack, spotlighting the speedy response of the United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights in deploying a field team to gather relevant information. She also urged the United Nations and the international community to devote resources and steadfast efforts to secure the cessation of military hostilities, underscoring that “there can be no military solution to the conflict”. Diplomacy and dialogue offer the best chances of a comprehensive and lasting resolution of the conflict, she emphasized, calling once more on the Russian Federation to end its aggression against Ukraine and respect its sovereignty and territorial integrity in line with the norms and principles of international law and the United Nations Charter.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) questioned the presence of European countries in the meeting and asked if the same delegates planned to be at the Council meeting on 13 October regarding the delivery of weapons to Ukraine. Recalling the “anti-Russia spectacle” in the Council a month ago, pertaining to his country’s alleged attack on Kostiantynivka market, during which his Western colleagues waxed lyrical in their accusations, he stressed that this massacre was carried out by Ukraine, either deliberately or as a blunder. However, Kyiv did not intend to carry out an investigation into the incident, he said, quoting Mykhailo Podolyak, Advisor to the Office of the President of Ukraine, who said: “The missile was Russian. Do we have to confirm every piece of rubble because someone has come out and said that Ukraine is attacking itself?”
He went on to ask his Western colleagues if they understood that the Kyiv junta is transmitting fake news through them, as part of a mendacious “anti-Russia campaign”. Citing other insinuations aired in the Council, involving the missile strike on Kramatorsk train station in April 2022, attacks on a cathedral in Odessa and a theatre in Mariupol, among others, he added that they were all carried out by forces allied with Ukraine. Episodes of Ukrainian missiles hitting civilian objects numbered in the dozens or even hundreds, yet there has not been an investigation into the provocation in Bucha, where bodies of people were laid out in the street by Ukrainian militants after the withdrawal of Russian troops.
This incident took place during peace talks in Istanbul, which Kyiv subsequently withdrew from, he continued. Further, Ukrainian authorities have a pattern of attempting to attribute responsibility for strikes to civilian objects to the Russian Federation, which, through some “magical coincidence”, coincide with high-ranking Western officials’ visits to Ukraine, or when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is abroad pestering for money and weapons. The latest tragedy in Hroza coincided with Mr. Zelenskyy’s visit to a summit in Spain, to convince the European Union to continue supporting Ukraine. The Russian Federation does not strike civilian objects or target civilians, and only uses its weapons to destroy military equipment, he said, adding that if Ukraine is using grain storage facilities to store such equipment, those will be destroyed as well.
ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan) said: “We are stunned to hear at least 52 civilians were killed in the Kupiansk district in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine,” stressing that the Russian Federation’s attempts to gloss over its acts will never succeed and that accountability cannot be avoided for violations of international law, including the UN Charter and international humanitarian law. Further, the Russian Federation’s illegal aggression against Ukraine, in violation of international law, had led to this situation, he said, expressing his support for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine that upholds the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. He urged the Russian Federation to withdraw immediately and unconditionally from the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine and not to cause further atrocities. Japan has been and will continue to be in solidarity with the people of Ukraine, he stated.
SÉRGIO FRANÇA DANESE (Brazil), Council President for October, speaking in his national capacity, called once again on all parties to respect international humanitarian law and the fundamental principles of distinction between combatants and civilians. “It is urgent that the parties also engage in a sincere effort to de-escalate hostilities without further delay,” he stressed, pointing out that continuing military operations will not bring solutions to the multiple and complex causes of the conflict. He further urged the parties to resume contacts, either directly or through the good offices of third parties, with a view to opening direct negotiations that could bring an end to the conflict and a lasting solution to the disputes that originated this terrible war. “The diplomatic path is the only one that offers real prospects for a just and lasting peace, in line with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter and taking into account the legitimate security concerns of all,” he emphasized.
SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) said that the “terrorist nature” of the Russian Federation was demonstrated on 5 October through its missile strike on Ukrainian civilians in the village of Hroza in Kupiansk district that killed 52 residents, including a 6-year-old child. Noting that the cafe was full with people there for the funeral of a Ukrainian soldier, Andriy Kozyr, he said that the latest attack killed the soldier’s son, as well as his entire family. Pointing out that Hroza is located 30 kilometres west of Kupiansk, which was liberated last year, and which Moscow is trying to retake, he quoted a local woman, who said: “With one missile they buried the whole village. In every house, there will be one coffin, in some, even three or five.”
The attack recalled stories of entire settlements being erased from the map and residents being killed 80 years ago, he said, adding that the Russian Federation is trying to “cosplay its role model — the Third Reich, by killing people, attempting to annex territories, and trying to whitewash its aggression by pretending to defend themselves from imaginary attacks”. Further, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin explains his war of aggression as a defence, without caring how crazy it sounds to audiences beyond his country. He recalled Nazi war criminal Hermann Göring during the Nuremberg trials who said: “The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
He went on to commend the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Ukraine, Ms. Brown, who condemned the latest strike as “another barbaric consequence of Russia’s invasion” and underscored that intentionally directing an attack against civilians or civilian objects is a war crime. He added that, while Moscow has shown little regard for international legal norms throughout its aggression, it is now running as a candidate to the Human Rights Council, subject to an election on 10 October, he said, recalling that its membership in the body was suspended 18 months ago due to its aggression against Ukraine. “Any vote in favour of its candidacy will be a bullet in the UN’s body, already mutilated by Russia,” he declared.
HEDDA SAMSON, Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, called recent Russian attacks against innocent civilians “heinous”, adding that international monitoring mechanisms have concluded that the Russia Federation has committed a wide range of violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law in Ukraine. Intentional attacks against civilians are war crimes and all commanders, perpetrators and accomplices of these atrocities will be held to account, she stated. As well, the European Union will continue supporting Ukraine, its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
She called for the Russian Federation to immediately and completely withdraw from the entire territory of Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, adding that Ukraine is exercising its inherent right to defend itself. She also said that the European Union will continue to work for the widest possible international support for the key principles and objectives of Ukraine’s peace formula. More so, any initiative for sustainable peace in Ukraine must be based on full respect for its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, she said.
JAKUB KULHÁNEK (Czech Republic) said: “It is our duty to raise our voices once again against the unspeakable atrocities that Russia is committing on a daily basis against the people of Ukraine.” The Russian Federation’s claims that it did not start the brutal war against Ukraine and is trying to end it ring hollow. He pointed to that country’s continued occupation, military operations against Ukraine, ongoing attacks on civilian objects and key civilian infrastructure, including targeting ports and grain facilities vital for supplying food to the world. Moreover, the Russian Federation continues its cynical and indiscriminate killing of civilians, he added, calling once again on that country to immediately stop its aggression against Ukraine and to withdraw its troops from the territory of Ukraine. Stressing that there can be no impunity for war crimes and that all responsible will be held to account, he said the Czech Republic will continue to assist Ukraine and its citizens in their just defence and in their struggle for liberation of all occupied territories.
CORNEL FERUȚĂ (Romania) voiced regret that heinous attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure continued, despite frequent calls at the UN and the Council for them to cease, as they are prohibited under international humanitarian law. Citing figures from the High Commissioner of Human Rights, which found that the Russian Federation’s war caused almost 10,000 civilian deaths, he called for indiscriminate attacks on Ukraine to stop. Turning to the 5 October drone attacks on grain silos and trucks close to the Danube River, at the border of Ukraine with Romania, he said they constituted a deliberate breach of international law and international humanitarian law, as well as an attempt to stop the shipments of grain towards the world. In the context of attempts to artificially increase the global price of grains by impeding the implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Romania will do its part support countries in need, he said, highlighting its role in facilitating more than 27 million tons of Ukrainian grains.
KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland) said such “disgraceful conduct”, as demonstrated by the Russian Federation, does not befit a permanent member of the Security Council. That country is a major disruptor of international peace and security while wielding the power to block any meaningful response to its transgressions. Its actions undermine trust in the United Nations system — “trust that we now so badly need”. In the face of eroding security, all Member States must act in such a way that the credibility of multilateralism is secured, not undermined. However, “Russia, while retaining its Member State’s rights and privileges, transplants its destructive behaviour to all the workings of the UN system,” he observed, adding such behaviour is witnessed daily at the UN, aiming to undermine the rule-based international order. To enhance the credibility of multilateralism, the Russian Federation needs to be held accountable for its violations of the fundamental principles of the Charter. He called on States to act together and stand firm by agreed upon rules, to prevent the current world system from disintegrating.
SANITA PAVĻUTA-DESLANDES (Latvia), also speaking for Estonia and Lithuania and associating herself with the European Union, strongly condemned the Russian Federation Federation’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine and called upon it to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine. “The sole responsibility for this war lays on Russia,” she said, adding that country started the war, and it alone can and must end it immediately. Pointing to its clear pattern of deliberate steps aimed at causing maximum suffering to Ukraine’s civilian population and targeting civilian infrastructure, she pointed out that attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure are serious violations of international humanitarian law and thus constitute war crimes.
“As long as it is the case, there is no place for Russia in the United Nations Human Rights Council,” she continued, noting that the UN Commission of Inquiry has confirmed systematic use of torture, executions, extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and rape, as well as forced deportation executed by the Russian Federation. Russian leadership, military personnel, perpetrators and accomplices must be held accountable for every international crime committed in and against Ukraine, she said, stressing that there will be no impunity for war crimes. Moreover, the Russian Federation’s threats to revoke the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty are highly irresponsible and seriously undermine global security, she stated, calling on that country to “stop its nuclear blackmail”.