Underscoring Need for Peace, End to Suffering, Security Council Speakers Urge Russian Federation to Immediately Withdraw Troops from Ukraine
The Security Council met today following an incident in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk on 7 November, where shelling by Ukrainian forces reportedly killed six people and wounded another 11, with several delegates pointing out that the Russian Federation convened the meeting to divert attention from the continued and relentless suffering and damage wrought by their military aggression against Ukraine.
Over 20 months since the Russian Federation launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in violation of the United Nations Charter, thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded, while millions have been displaced, Miroslav Jenča, Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas in the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, told the 15-member body. Noting the massive impact of the aggression on essential services, he pointed out that 17.6 million people — nearly half the country’s population — now need humanitarian assistance.
As the war continues, he voiced concern over the near-daily attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure throughout Ukraine, citing Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) figures that 9,933 have been killed since February last year. Recalling the briefing to the Council of Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo on 9 October, following the missile attack that killed 59 people in Hroza, eastern Ukraine, he said attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure have continued, voicing concern over the targeting of energy infrastructure ahead of winter. Addressing the killing of six people following shelling in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk, he condemned all attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure “no matter where they take place or who is responsible”.
In the ensuing debate, several delegates assailed the Russian Federation for calling the meeting, asserting that it was solely responsible for all the deaths resulting from its war of aggression against Ukraine. Some speakers voiced concern over Moscow’s unrelenting attacks on energy infrastructure, as winter approaches, while others emphasized the need for diplomacy and a peaceful settlement to bring the conflict to a swift end.
The Russian Federation’s representative said his delegation requested this emergency meeting due to the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ mass shelling of densely populated areas in Donetsk on 7 November, attacking civilian targets three times in a day. There were no military objects in the area where attacks took place yesterday, he said, holding up photos of the “scene of the crime in Donbas”, in which six people died.
“Since February 2022, on the territory of DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] alone, artillery and rocket strikes by the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been carried out more than 25,000 times,” he said, adding that, since May 2014, Ukrainian authorities have continued their armed aggression against their own people, who did not accept the anti-constitutional Maidan coup in Kyiv and rose up to defend their rights. Every subsequent crime carried out by the Kyiv regime confirmed that Moscow was right to begin its special military operation, he added.
Countering that, the United States’ delegate said Moscow is desperate to point fingers at others to distract from its own egregious actions. The Russian Federation bears ultimate responsibility for the unfortunate and unnecessary loss of lives resulting from its war of choice in Ukraine, he said, noting his country’s support for necessary measures by Kyiv to defend itself in line with international law. Condemning the Russian Federation’s attacks on heat and light systems ahead of the coldest, darkest part of the year, he called on that country to heed the calls of more than 140 Member States and end its unconscionable war of aggression against Ukraine.
In a similar vein, the representative of the United Kingdom, pointing out that Moscow has, too often, attempted to distract this Council with spurious meetings aimed to deflect and distract from its own crimes, stressed: “Russia’s biggest lie of all, though, is that it conducted its full-scale invasion, annexation of Crimea and military invasion in the Donbas in 2014 for the benefit of the people there.” Citing UN investigations that have confirmed Russia is responsible for gross violations, which could amount to war crimes in Ukraine, he said, “Just today, it struck a Liberian-flagged civilian vessel entering the port of Odesa, killing its pilot.”
For his part, the representative of Ecuador said that his delegation would continue to deplore any loss of human life and attacks on civilian infrastructure from wherever it comes. Reiterating his country’s recognition of the right of peoples to legitimate defence in accordance with international law and the UN Charter, he called on the Russian Federation to stop once and for all its lengthy invasion of Ukraine, which continues to lead to destruction and loss of innocent life, including in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk. “We must move from the mindset of domination and force to the mindset of diplomacy and the peaceful settlement of disputes,” he added.
Rounding out the meeting was Ukraine’s delegate, who deplored “the unacceptable practice of the aggressor State, which is misusing its presence in the Council to escape responsibility for the war and blame the victim of aggression”. Noting that a military training facility was destroyed by a high-precision strike yesterday in the occupied Ukrainian city of Donetsk, he asserted that all Russian troops and sites of their deployment are legitimate military targets.
Moscow must stop violating the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolutions adopted in response to the aggression, he said, stressing that until the withdrawal of Russian Federation troops, Ukraine will exercise its right to self-defence in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter. “And instead of floods of crocodile’s tears that Putin’s delegates have shed in this Chamber, their country may take a very simple step that will immediately stop the atrocities — to withdraw its troops from the territory of another sovereign country, to give up plans to invade this country and deprive it of its independence,” he stressed.
THREATS TO INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY
MIROSLAV JENČA, Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and Americas, Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, said that, over 20 months since the Russian Federation launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in violation of the United Nations Charter and international law, thousands of civilians have been killed or wounded, while millions have been displaced. The massive destruction caused by the war has impacted essential services, including access to education, health services, shelter, food and water, he said, adding that 17.6 million people — nearly half the population — are in need of humanitarian assistance. As the war continues, he voiced concern over the continued, near-daily attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure throughout Ukraine, citing Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) figures that 9,933 have been killed and 18,302 injured since February last year, adding that actual figures are likely considerably higher.
Recalling the briefing to the Council of Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo on 9 October, following the horrific missile attack that killed 59 people in Hroza in eastern Ukraine, he said that, tragically, such attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure have continued, with communities near the frontlines in Kharkiv, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk regions under constant shelling. He noted a pattern over the past few weeks of attacks on critical infrastructure, including energy infrastructure, across the country, which is concerning given the onset of winter. In a deadly wave of attacks on 18 October, 10 people were reportedly killed in strikes on the Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson, Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine. On 1 November, the country reportedly experienced the most extensive shelling of the year, with 118 settlements across 10 regions targeted within 24 hours, killing two people, one in Kharkiv and another in the Kherson region.
On 3 November, nine people were reportedly killed in a missile strike in the Ukrainian town of Chaplynka, currently under Russian control in the Kherson region of Ukraine, he went on. The same day, a massive Russian drone attack against critical civilian infrastructure reportedly injured civilians, including children, and damaged civilian buildings in several regions, including Lviv, Kharkiv, Kherson and Odesa. He also outlined attacks carried out on 5 November in Nikopol district, killing one person, as well as Russian drone and missile attacks on 6 November, which once again struck port and grain infrastructure in Odesa, reportedly causing widespread damage to the Odesa National Fine Arts Museum — one of city's oldest — on the day it turned 124-years-old. Such attacks have continued on both sides of the frontline, he said, pointing to the deaths of six people following shelling in the Russian-controlled city of Donetsk. He condemned all attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, no matter where they take place or who is responsible.
As the war approaches its two-year mark, he voiced concern over the risk of further escalation and its impact on the people of Ukraine as well as regional and international security. Against this backdrop, he urged all Member States to uphold the United Nations Charter, prevent further escalation and spillover of this devastating war, and lay the foundations for sustainable peace, in line with the Charter, international law and relevant resolutions of the General Assembly.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said his delegation requested this emergency meeting because of the Kyiv’s latest violation of norms of international law — namely the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ mass shelling of densely populated areas in Donetsk on 7 November. The Kyiv regime three times in one day attacked civilian targets in the centre of the city. In addition to residential buildings, the strikes hit the building of the labour and social protection office and a local bus, he said, holding up photos of the “scene of the crime in Donbas from the people in Donbas”. The attacks were carried out in the middle of the working day — at 4:25 p.m and at 4:40 p.m — and then again at 6:27 p.m, he said, adding that six people died and 55 were wounded, including three children. Responsibility for those crimes will be borne by the senior political leadership of the Kyiv regime and those that carry out their criminal orders, and the Western countries who flood Ukraine with their weapons and agree on the target of those strikes, he stressed.
“Since February 2022, on the territory of DPR [Donetsk People’s Republic] alone, artillery and rocket strikes by the Ukrainian Armed Forces have been carried out more than 25,000 times,” he continued, detailing the death of civilians and the damage and destruction of civilian infrastructure. Terrorism against the people of Donbas began not in February 2022, he pointed out, noting that since May 2014, Ukrainian authorities have continued their armed aggression against their own people, who did not accept the anti-constitutional Maidan coup in Kyiv and rose up to defend their rights. Every subsequent crime carried out by the Kyiv regime confirmed that Moscow was right to begin its special military operation, he said. In the area where attacks took place yesterday, there were no military objects, he said. Addressing Council members, he stressed: “We trust that you will be bold enough and have enough principles to today call things by their name.”
MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon), recalling incessant calls for an end to the fighting in Ukraine and, above all, respect for international humanitarian law, said prospects for dialogue to bring the warring parties to the table are a distant possibility. “On the contrary, we are seeing the resupplying by the parties, each party perfecting their weapons and reinforcing their positions,” he said. “My country calls on the parties to assume their responsibilities by respecting the laws of war and abstaining from any action that would feed the conflict and harm international security,” he said, also calling on the parties to make use of United Nations Charter mechanisms to solve disputes. “This Council is the Security Council and not the war council,” he stressed, adding that the best way to avoid new deaths in Donetsk, Kherson and Mariupol is to stop the war.
YAMANAKA OSAMU (Japan) voiced concerned over continued aggression in East Ukraine by the Russian Federation. He reiterated that Donetsk is an integral part of Ukraine, a region under temporary occupation as a result of Moscow’s aggression, in violation of the sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine. The Russian Federation’s targeting of civilian infrastructure across Ukraine, including housing complexes, hospitals, schools, energy facilities and other essential installations for life, jeopardizes the welfare and future of the Ukrainian people, he stressed. There must be no tolerance or impunity for war crimes and other atrocities, he affirmed, urging all parties to uphold international humanitarian principles. Any attack on civilians would not have happened if the Russian Federation had not launched its aggression against Ukraine. He again urged Moscow to stop its ongoing aggression and immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its troops and military equipment from the entire internationally recognized territory of Ukraine.
FELIX OSEI BOATENG (Ghana) said his country continues to urge for the cessation of military hostilities across Ukraine, together with the preservation of civilian lives and infrastructure. The humanitarian toll has been high, particularly for innocent children, he said, and States must make all required efforts to comprehensively resolve different facets of the conflict. Ghana reiterates its call on all warring parties to fully adhere to existing obligations under international humanitarian law, without exception. Further, it believes that every effort must be made through diplomacy and dialogue to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace for Ukraine, based on the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. Lastly, war has never been an instrument for advancing sustainable peace. Parties must address their concerns, not through the instrument of violence, but through the range of acceptable means to achieve a peaceful settlement.
ROBERT A. WOOD (United States), noting that the Russian Federation once again called today’s meeting before facts can be determined, said the country is desperate to point fingers at others to distract from its own egregious actions. Stressing that Moscow bears ultimate responsibility for the unfortunate and unnecessary loss of lives resulting from its war of choice in Ukraine, he noted his country’s support for necessary measures by Kyiv to defend itself in line with international law. Civilian deaths represent lost futures, he said, calling on the Russian Federation to heed the calls of more than 140 Member States, to withdraw its troops and end its unconscionable war of aggression against Ukraine. Condemning attacks on critical infrastructure, he pointed out that the Russian Federation is purposefully attacking heat and light systems ahead of the coldest, darkest part of the year, adding that the country is continuing its relentless attacks amid mounting evidence of heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity by its forces.
NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) called on the Russian Federation to comply with its obligations to respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians in all circumstances. Noting the facts as reported by the self-proclaimed authorities of Donetsk in an illegally occupied area, she condemned the manipulation of events by the Russian Federation. That country is cynically aiming to exploit events for its benefit to deflect the attention of the Council and international community from its own responsibility for crimes it is committing daily. Since the invasion in February 2022, the Russian authorities have perpetrated multiple violations of international humanitarian law by deliberately targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure. She urged the Russian Federation to comply with international humanitarian law by granting access for humanitarian actors, the civilian population and UN in territories illegally occupied by it. A manipulation of facts will not change the reality of this conflict, she stressed, emphasizing that the Russian Federation alone can put an end to the war and the suffering resulting from it.
THOMAS PATRICK PHIPPS (United Kingdom) said that the Russian Federation has repeatedly and deliberately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure and that UN investigations have confirmed Russia is responsible for gross violations, which could amount to war crimes. “Just today, it struck a Liberian-flagged civilian vessel entering the port of Odesa, and killing its pilot,” he said, recalling Russia’s attack on a café in Hroza that killed 59 people. “The UN’s investigation concluded that there was no indication of military personnel or any other legitimate military targets at or adjacent to the café at the time of Russia’s attack,” he underscored, adding that the Russian Federation has lied in the Council many times. “Russia’s biggest lie of all, though, is that it conducted its full-scale invasion, its annexation of Crimea and its military invasion in the Donbas in 2014 for the benefit of the people there,” he said, stressing that too often, Moscow has attempted to distract this Council with spurious meetings aimed to deflect and distract from its own crimes.
NORBERTO MORETTI (Brazil) said that continued fighting in Ukraine will not bring peace. Rather, it will only aggravate the suffering imposed on millions of civilians on both sides. Brazil's position on the war in Ukraine is well known. Strikes against civilians and civilian infrastructure are affronts to international law, human rights law and international humanitarian law. His country calls on the parties to adopt all necessary measures to protect the population in conflict zones from the consequences of indiscriminate shelling, as well as the widespread use of landmines that will affect vast swaths of territory for decades to come. Also of particular importance is the protection of nuclear facilities. Brazil reaffirms its respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States, and its commitment to peaceful settlement of disputes. It once again calls on parties to engage in the search for a political solution to the crisis in accordance with Article 33 of the United Nations Charter.
MOHAMED ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) voiced concern over reports of civilian deaths and injuries following an attack in Donetsk on 7 November, as well as continued widespread damage to Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. He noted that, since the start of the war, hospitals, train stations, dams, and energy infrastructure, including nuclear power plants, have been damaged. Such damage puts civilians at risk, he said, underscoring that, in line with international humanitarian law, civilians and civilian objects must never be the target of attack, adding: “The law is clear, and we reiterate that compliance is not optional.” The scale of civilian suffering in Gaza “shocks the conscience”, with 10,000 people, including 4,000 children, killed in just a month, he said, adding that the Council is being called on to act in such situations, no matter the difficulty. The United Arab Emirates supports lasting peace in Ukraine, in line with the United Nations Charter.
RICCARDA CHRISTIANA CHANDA (Switzerland) once again condemned the Russian Federation’s military aggression and called on all parties to the conflict to strictly respect international humanitarian law and human rights. Her delegation is appalled by the waves of incessant attacks to which the civilian population has been subjected for more than 20 months, she stressed, adding that serious damage caused to civilian property and infrastructure as well as disruption of essential services are particularly alarming as winter approaches. “The impact of hostilities on civilians and civilian objects must be taken into account in all military operations,” she said, stressing the need to facilitate and guarantee rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access throughout Ukraine, including to territories under Russian military control. Switzerland does not recognize the incorporation of Ukrainian territories into the Russian Federation and condemns this serious violation of Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, she emphasized, calling on Moscow to immediately de-escalate the situation, cease all combat operations and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory.
DARREN CAMILLERI (Malta) said the Russian Federation’s war of aggression against Ukraine and its people continues to bring horrific atrocities on a daily basis. “For more than 20 months, Russia has continuously destroyed civilian and essential infrastructure, killing and injuring thousands of civilians and threatening food security worldwide,” he stressed, adding that the Russian Federation’s ongoing campaign of systematic shelling against civilians and critical infrastructure in Ukraine must stop. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms attacks committed by the Russian armed forces against cultural, health and educational infrastructure, as well as grain storage facilities,” he said. “We remain firmly committed to ensuring full accountability for war crimes and the other most serious crimes committed in connection with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” he stated, urging Moscow to end its illegal war and withdraw its military forces and proxies from the entire internationally recognized territory of Ukraine.
DOMINGOS ESTÊVÃO FERNANDES (Mozambique) said his country has consistently urged parties in the conflict in Ukraine to fulfil the obligation to protect civilians, particularly women and children, in strict adherence to international and humanitarian laws. Mozambique has also consistently expressed its strong condemnation of the indiscriminate shelling of civilians, and the deliberate destruction of civilian infrastructure and propriety property. The actions are serious breaches of the Geneva Convention, which mandates the human treatment of individuals in war, and specifically safeguards civilians during conflict. When the rules of war are abandoned, the result can be a spiral of finger pointing, victim blaming and escalation into increasingly genocidal rhetoric, making conflicts more intractable. Mozambique therefore reiterates its call on the conflicting parties to strictly adhere to the principle of distinction, proportionality and precaution in their military operations. As the drums of war continue to drown out the calls for peace, Mozambique calls once again on all parties to address security concerns and interests through peaceful means to immediately silence the guns.
ANDRIS STASTOLI (Albania) said that, for over 21 months, the Russian Federation has inflicted daily suffering and death upon civilians in Ukraine, leading to the loss of more than 10,000 lives, internal displacement of 5 million people, and need for another 5.8 million to seek refuge in various European countries, adding: “These figures merely scratch the surface of the profound consequences of the ongoing Russian aggression.” He cited World Bank figures that the aggression has led to damages to Ukrainian infrastructure estimated at $35.7 billion. Further, he quoted the legally elected mayor of Mariupol, who said that, although Moscow convened today’s meeting out of its pretence of concern for the situation in Donetsk, “We are still waiting for a satisfactory explanation from Russia as to why it is relentlessly attacking and bombarding civilians in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and other Ukrainian territories.” Instead of heeding calls to end the war, the Kremlin is resorting to a relentless propaganda campaign, he said, reiterating his call on the Russian Federation to halt the war, withdraw its troops from Ukraine's internationally recognized borders, and engage in a genuine and just peace process.
ANDRÉS EFREN MONTALVO SOSA (Ecuador) said his delegation will continue to deplore any loss of human life and attack on civilian infrastructure from wherever it comes. He reiterated his country’s recognition of the right of peoples to legitimate defence in accordance with international law and the UN Charter. The parties must unreservedly respect their obligations arising from international humanitarian law, including the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution and focus mainly on the protection of civilians. “We must move from the mindset of domination and force to the mindset of diplomacy and the peaceful settlement of disputes,” he said, calling on the Russian Federation to stop once and for all its lengthy invasion of Ukraine, which continues to lead to destruction and loss of innocent life, including in the Ukrainian region of Donetsk.
GENG SHUANG (China) said his country is gravely concerned over the missile attack on the Donetsk region that resulted in damage to civilian infrastructure and dozens of civilian casualties. “China once again calls on parties to the conflict to remain calm and exercise restraint, strictly abide by international humanitarian law and do their utmost to protect civilians and the key civilian facilities,” he said, adding that sending weapons to the battlefield only serves to exacerbate and perpetuate Ukraine’s crisis. “We call on all parties, in particular countries with major influence, to play a truly positive role instead of aggravating confrontation, prolonging the war and exacerbating tensions,” he said, underscoring that his country always stands on the side of peace and dialogue, remaining committed to facilitating peace talks and seeking a political solution. He urged the parties to respond to the call for peace, to achieve a ceasefire and cessation of hostilities and to restore peace without delay.
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), taking the floor for a second time, said Western colleagues on the Council used the fact that his country requested the meeting to repeat their well-worn-out mantras that Moscow is to blame for everything. He said this is unimaginably hypocritical, two-faced and cynical when set against the backdrop of the deaths of civilians and the attack on civilian infrastructure. Separately, the United Kingdom’s grievances over events in Ukraine since 2014 are hollow, false, banal and unworthy of comment. The United Kingdom’s selectiveness and double standards are well known, he said, and have been visible over the course of the last month to the residents of Gaza or those living in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel. As regards the residents of Donbas, they have been living in this paradigm since 2014. He pointed out Member States’ complete intentional blindness in this regard. Since 2014, they have turned a blind eye to the methodical bombing and shelling of the peaceful towns of Donbas by the Kiev regime and its nationalist battalions. He asked where Member States’ hypocritical humanism was at that time.
SERHII DVORNYK (Ukraine), deploring the unacceptable practice of the aggressor State to misuse its presence in the Council to escape responsibility for the war and blame the victim of aggression, reiterated that the root cause of the enormous suffering and destruction in his country is the Russian Federation’s unprovoked and full-scale invasion. “And instead of floods of crocodile’s tears that Putin’s delegates have shed in this Chamber, their country may take a very simple step that will immediately stop the atrocities — to withdraw its troops from the territory of another sovereign country, to give up plans to invade this country and deprive it of its independence.” Moscow must stop violating the United Nations Charter and General Assembly resolutions adopted in response to the aggression, he said, stressing that, until the withdrawal of that country’s troops, Ukraine will exercise its right to self-defence in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter.
All Russian troops and sites of their deployment — military, service and training facilities and logistical objects — are legitimate military targets, subject to elimination in line with the Geneva Conventions, he said, noting that the so-called “Vladimir Zhoga Republican Centre of Unmanned Systems”, a military training facility, was destroyed by a high-precision strike yesterday in the occupied Ukrainian city of Donetsk. He also cited another military facility targeted by his country over the past days — the Askold cruise-missile carrier in Zaliv shipyard in the occupied Ukrainian city of Kerch. The warship was almost ready to launch attacks on Ukraine, including its energy infrastructure, he said, citing intelligence stating that Moscow has accumulated more than 800 missiles for such use. Comprehensive, just and lasting peace should be achieved in line with the United Nations Charter, he said, citing the General Assembly resolution adopted on 23 February, as well as his country’s peace formula plan.