As Russian Federation’s War on Ukraine Continues, Senior United Nations Official, Briefing Security Council, Reiterates Appeal to Stop Attacking Civilians
A senior United Nations official today condemned all attacks on cities, towns, and villages in Ukraine and the Russian Federation during the second Security Council meeting in 24 hours on the subject, as aerial bombardments between the two countries escalate.
Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific in the Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, told the 15-member Council that as feared the two-year cycle of death on full display during the Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine yesterday, which at the last count killed at least 39 Ukrainian civilians, has escalated overnight.
According to Russian Federation authorities, as a result of Ukrainian missile and rocket strikes on the city of Belgorod, which lies 30 kilometres from the Ukrainian border, at least 18 civilians, including two children, were killed, he said. At least 100 others, including 15 children, were reportedly injured.
Russian Federation authorities are also reporting separate overnight Ukrainian drone attacks in several regions of the Russian Federation. Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities reported new overnight Russian drone attacks targeting the Kherson region.
“As the war continues, we will see more Ukrainian and Russian civilians killed and injured,” he warned, reiterating the Secretary General’s urgent appeal to stop attacks on civilian centres, residential areas, and energy infrastructure.
In the ensuing discussion among Council members, many once again voiced their deep alarm at the increasing attacks on civilians and critical infrastructure. Delegations urged a de-escalation of the fighting and an immediate return to diplomatic efforts towards a cessation of hostilities.
Ghana’s delegate, recalling that less than 24 hours ago the Council met following the Russian Federation’s aerial attacks on many regions of Ukraine, said that it is deeply unfortunate that the two neighbouring countries have chosen military logic for dispute resolution. “What may seem bad today could get worse if the parties persist with the military approach,” she cautioned.
Council members now have a chance to give an objective assessment of the terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime against the Russian city of Belgorod, said the delegate from the Russian Federation. To increase the number of victims of this terrorist attack, cluster munitions were used, including Vampire missiles produced by Prague. As a result, 18 people were killed, including three children, and 108 people were injured. British and American consultants were directly involved in organizing this terrorist attack, he continued, adding that responsibility for it also lies with the countries of the European Union, which continue to pump up the Ukrainian ruling elite with weapons.
Ukraine’s delegate said that the Council convened yesterday, today, and “should be ready to meet tomorrow, the day after tomorrow — every day that the Russian war against Ukraine lasts”. As long as this war, unleashed by the “Kremlin dictator”, endures, the toll of death and suffering will continue to grow. Unfortunately, the number of casualties of yesterday’s missile and drone attack by the Russian Federation on Ukraine has increased. And since then, several cities and villages in Ukraine have come under Russian fire. “There is only one way to stop the human suffering and destruction caused by the war — to stop the war itself,” he stressed.
The representative of the United States said that Russian Federation President Vladimir V. Putin is solely responsible for the senseless loss of lives. “It is his war of choice,” he stressed. And as long as Moscow persists, Washington, D.C., will support Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself.
France’s delegate said that this war has not stopped causing suffering to civilians. He pointed to Moscow’s strikes of 29 December, stressing that the cost paid by Ukraine’s civilian population is unbearable. The Russian Federation should measure the costs of this war for itself, he said, adding: “If its troops were not present on Ukrainian soil, if it did not daily shell Ukrainian cities and villages, we would not be meeting this afternoon.”
KHALED KHIARI, Assistant Secretary-General for the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific, Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations, said that as feared the two-year cycle of death and destruction on full display during the Russian Federation’s large-scale attack on Ukraine yesterday, which at the last count killed at least 39 Ukrainian civilians, has further escalated overnight. According to Russian Federation authorities, as a result of Ukrainian missile and rocket strikes on the city of Belgorod, which lies 30 kilometres from the Ukrainian border, at least 18 civilians, including two children, were reportedly killed. At least 100 others, including 15 children, were reportedly injured. Attacks on locations in Belgorod city centre reportedly resulted in damage to civilian infrastructure, including the regional government office and the medical college of Belgorod State University.
The strikes were reported as among the deadliest cross border attacks on the Russian Federation since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, launched in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, he went on to say. The Russian military authorities also reported separate overnight Ukrainian drone attacks in several regions of the Russian Federation, including the Moscow region. Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities reported new overnight Russian drone attacks targeting the Kherson region. The United Nations is “not in a position” to independently verify the various reported attacks or casualty figures.
“As we meet again today, reports of new air raid alerts are also coming in from across Ukraine,” he said, warning: “As the war continues, we will see more Ukrainian and Russian civilians killed and injured.” As warned, the latest series of attacks is a stark reminder of the very real dangers of further escalation and spillover of the war. He reiterated the Secretary-General’s appeal for an end to attacks on civilian population centres, residential areas, and civilian and energy infrastructure. He condemned all attacks on cities, towns and villages in Ukraine and in the Russian Federation. Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure are unacceptable. “The war must come to an end,” he stressed.
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said the citizens of the Czech Republic, as well as other Western countries, the vast majority of which are not hostile towards his country, should understand where their money is spent and what crimes their Governments are complicit in. Brussels along with Washington, D.C., and London, as well as most countries of the European Union, are accomplices in the crimes committed by the gang in Kyiv. Today, Council members have a chance to fulfil their duty and give an objective assessment of the terrorist attack by the Kyiv regime against the peaceful Russian city of Belgorod a few hours ago. The city centre and residential areas were fired at with cluster munitions from multiple launch rocket systems from the border town of Volchansk in the Kharkov region. One of the targets of the Ukrainian missiles was the Dynamo sports complex in Belgorod, where at that moment gymnastics classes were being held for children; the other was an ice rink in the city centre, with parents with children present. Belgorod State Technological University also came under attack from Ukrainian terrorists.
To increase the number of victims of the terrorist attack, cluster munitions were used, including Vampire missiles produced by Prague. “This is a deliberate act of terrorism that was targeting civilians,” he emphasized. As a result of a pre-planned and carefully prepared shelling of the central part of the city, 18 people died, including three children, and 108 people were injured. British and American consultants were directly involved in organizing this terrorist attack, he said, adding that responsibility for it also lies with the countries of the European Union, which stubbornly and irresponsibly continue to pump up the Ukrainian ruling elite with weapons. He rejected the narrative that none of this would have happened had Moscow not started its special military operation in February 2022. His country launched the operation to stop what the Kyiv regime was doing in Donbas — eight years of shelling its cities and towns with impunity, he stressed.
NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France), recalling that the Russian Federation attacked Ukraine on 24 February 2022, said that this war has not stopped causing suffering to civilians. He pointed to Moscow’s massive strikes on 29 December, stressing that the cost paid by Ukraine’s civilian population is unbearable. Noting that the Russian Federation should measure the costs of this war for itself, he added: “If its troops were not present on Ukrainian soil, if it did not daily shell Ukrainian cities and villages, we would not be meeting this afternoon.” He called on the parties to the conflict to respect international law, while urging Moscow to stop violating Council’s resolutions — that it voted in favour of — by obtaining weapons from Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) noted the Council was meeting for the second time in 24 hours following a series of air strikes in Ukraine and the Russian Federation, with today’s drone attacks on the latter killing 14 and injuring more than 100 — voicing particular alarm over the killing of two children and wounding of 15. With civilian sites including a school hit, adding to the 2,600 schools damaged since the war began, he reiterated that international humanitarian law must be upheld, with civilians and civilian objects protected. Unless the conflict is halted, the new year brings the prospect of more civilians killed and wounded and families separated, further destabilizing European and global security. He urged the parties to pursue a negotiated settlement, ending the war in a manner that preserves Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
THOMAS PATRICK PHIPPS (United Kingdom) said that there are hundreds of thousands of Russian Federation soldiers in Ukraine. There is not a single Ukrainian soldier in the Russian Federation. If the Russian Federation wants someone to blame for the deaths of Russians in this war, it should start with President Vladimir V. Putin, who is responsible for sending thousands of Russian servicemen and women to bear needless death. In 2022, President Putin claimed his invasion was to stop a genocide in Donbas. The International Court of Justice rejected this and ordered the Russian Federation to immediately end its invasion. The Russian Federation’s real objectives were revealed soon after with its attempt to illegally annex further Ukrainian territory. Having failed to defeat Ukraine militarily, the Russian Federation has now turned to indiscriminate attacks on civilians. The death toll from these from this week’s attacks across Ukraine, the largest since the war started, continues to rise. The United Kingdom stands resolutely with Ukraine and will continue to do so.
IRIYA TAKAYUKI (Japan) condemned all violations of international humanitarian law. “We should not lose sight of why on earth we are gathering here today.” This situation would not have happened in the first place and would not have if the Russian Federation had not started its illegal aggression against Ukraine. As stated by the overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly, the Russian Federation’s aggression is a clear violation of international law, including the Charter. Japan will continue to stand with Ukraine until a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine is realized. He urged the Russian Federation to withdraw immediately and unconditionally from the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine.
DARREN CAMILLERI (Malta) recalled that yesterday, the Russian Federation carried out another barbaric attack on several cities across Ukraine, adding to the tragic loss of life and misery the civilian population of that country has been forced to endure for 675 days. “As Russia continues in its desperate efforts to justify the unjustifiable, and to try to present itself as the victim, we continue to stress that wars have devastating, long-lasting, and far-reaching consequences,” he said. Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in Ukraine keeps deteriorating, with the most vulnerable, including women and children, paying the highest price. The winter months and freezing temperatures will only compound existing hardships. Accordingly, he called on the Russian Federation to immediately cease all hostilities and unconditionally and completely withdraw from Ukraine. Until then, Ukraine has the right to defend itself from Moscow’s aggression, he added.
JOHN KELLEY (United States) said that his country mourns every Ukrainian life cut short by the Russian Federation’s aggression, adding: “We have not lost sight that ordinary Russian civilians are bearing a brunt of the Kremlin’s brutal war.” Noting that Vladimir V. Putin is responsible for the senseless and unnecessary loss of lives, he underscored: “This is his war. It is his war of choice.” He further stressed that as long as Moscow persists, Washington, D.C., will support Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself. Calling for protection of all civilians on all sides in every conflict, he emphasized that the Russian Federation alone is responsible for starting and prolonging this war.
GUSTAVO SÉNÉCHAL DE GOFFREDO JUNIOR (Brazil) said the deaths recorded in Belgorod illustrate once again the suffering imposed on civilians on both sides of the front line. It is essential and urgent to de-escalate, create conditions for dialogue and begin negotiations for a lasting peace, taking into account the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the legitimate security concerns of all parties. The increasing flow of weapons into the conflict will only fuel more violence and will not contribute to ending it. “The end to the war is the only way to prevent such incidents from recurring week after week,” he stressed, urging the parties to respect their obligations under international humanitarian law and to engage in the search for a peaceful solution to the crisis. Article 33 of the UN Charter outlines the tools to achieve this goal, he recalled.
ANDRIS STASTOLI (Albania) noted that yesterday in the Council, the Russian Federation explained that its 158 missiles did not cause any harm to anyone in Ukraine and that 39 innocent victims were cause by Ukraine’s defense systems. “One must be totally immune to absurdity to believe such a high degree of fallacy,” he stressed, as according to the UN count, there are more than 20,000 civilian casualties caused by the Russian Federation in Ukraine, with Moscow not only expressing no concern, but blaming victims. Expressing regret over every civilian casualty, whether Russian or Ukrainian, he affirmed that the core issue is that Moscow wanted, planned and executed the war and by all accounts is solely responsible for its consequences. He vehemently opposed the Kremlin’s sinister objective to dismantle Ukraine and subjugate its people.
ADRIAN DOMINIK HAURI (Switzerland) said that today’s attacks on Belgorod are yet another tragic consequence of the Russian Federation’s war against Ukraine. Calling on the parties to strictly respect international humanitarian law and not to target civilians, he pointed to one of Moscow’s “heaviest waves” of missile and drone attacks in several regions of Ukraine since the start of the military aggression, which took place on 29 December, causing numerous fatalities. In addition to direct causalities, these attacks exacerbate the suffering of the population, particularly in the harsh winter conditions, he noted, observing that the Russian Federation continues its strikes against Ukraine. “These attacks must stop,” he stressed, underscoring the importance of de-escalation to avoid further suffering of civilians.
EDWIGE KOUMBY MISSAMBO (Gabon) said that the war in Ukraine has caused far too many deaths, destruction of civilian infrastructure and international environmental and economic consequences. Reiterating that the population and civilian infrastructure must not be targeted, she expressed concern over the increasing number of drone attacks that risk extending the theatre of hostilities. She also said that the attack on Belgorod as well as the earlier attacks on Kyiv, Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities reflect deadly violence that could extend the scope of fighting. “It’s time to end the war in Ukraine,” she underscored.
TARCÍSIO BALTAZAR BUANAHAGI (Mozambique) said that the facts are clear enough: the longer the conflict persists, the more severe the consequences become. Furthermore, he urged all parties in this conflict to fulfil their responsibilities to safeguard civilians and rigorously abide by all relevant instruments of international humanitarian law, including pertinent Security Council resolutions such as 1265 (1999) and 1296 (2000). He expressed support to a diplomatic and negotiated solution between the two neighbouring countries. “It is our sincere hope that the contending parts will embrace diplomacy and dialogue as a means of resolving this worrying conflict,” he stressed.
KHALILAH HACKMAN (Ghana), recalling that less than 24 hours ago the Council met following the Russian Federation’s aerial attacks on many regions of Ukraine, said: “We are gathered once again in this Chamber, upon reports of attacks by Ukraine against the Russian city of Belgorod.” Noting that the two neighbouring countries have chosen military logic for dispute resolution, she cautioned against this approach. “What may seem bad today could get worse if the parties persist with the military approach,” she added, stressing that civilians and civilian infrastructure should not be targets of war. Calling for de-escalation and urgent diplomatic efforts towards cessation of hostilities, she urged the parties to avail themselves to a peaceful dispute settlement.
GENG SHUANG (China) stated that the flurry of Council deliberations in recent days over grievous civilian casualties, so close to the end of the year, “leaves us sad and distressed” over the drawn-out Ukraine crisis. There are no winners in conflict and war, he stressed, as it causes nothing but profound suffering to innocent people and damage to global security. He renewed the call for an early end to hostilities, with all international stakeholders stepping up diplomatic mediation with greater urgency, further noting that China will continue to stand on the side of peace and dialogue and remain committed to facilitating peace talks.
JOSÉ JAVIER DE LA GASCA (Ecuador), Council President for December, spoke in his national capacity to recall that this 15-member organ was established with the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. On 6 May 2022, the Council expressed its deep concern for the maintenance of peace and security in Ukraine; that day, it further reiterated that all Member States have assumed the obligation to settle their international disputes by peaceful means. In this context, he called on all parties to refrain from attacking the civilian population or civilian infrastructure and to respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. Expressing regret about all loss of human life, particularly that of children, since the beginning of this conflict, he underscored that the military aggression against Ukraine must end and warned about the possibility of escalation and spillover of the conflict.
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), taking the floor again, said that if in 2013 Ukraine did not have an anti-Government coup that was supported and “blessed” by the West, if in 2014 the Government that took power did not begin the war in Donbas against its own citizens, and if the Minsk Agreements were implemented, nothing that happened in 2022 would have occurred. “Russia does not target peaceful Ukrainian civilians, no matter how many times we keep repeating it,” he stressed, noting that it only targets military infrastructure.
SERHII DVORNYK (Ukraine) said that the Security Council convened yesterday and is meeting again today. “And you should be ready to meet tomorrow, the day after tomorrow — every day that the Russian war against Ukraine lasts,” he said. As long as this war, unleashed by the “Kremlin dictator”, endures, the toll of death and suffering will continue to grow. Yesterday, the delegation of Ukraine informed the Council of the devastating outcomes of the missile and drone attack by the Russian Federation which happened that day. Unfortunately, the number of casualties of that attack has increased. Today, seven more bodies were retrieved from the rubble of a storage facility hit yesterday by a Russian missile, and as Ukraine is still recovering from yesterday’s horrendous strike, new waves of Russian terror persist.
Just hours ago, the Russian Federation again terrorized Kharkiv with S-300 missiles, hitting a residential building and a hotel, he said. Since this morning several cities and villages in Ukraine have come under Russian fire, including in the Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Sumy, Chernigiv and Kherson regions. “There is only one way to stop the human suffering and destruction caused by the war — to stop the war itself,” he stressed. “And it is baffling that such a simple idea eludes the members of the Russian delegation identifying themselves as diplomats,” he said. The Russian Federation should make the only just decision, as outlined by the UN General Assembly resolution of 23 February 2023 titled “Principles of the Charter of the United Nations underlying a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine”. Once Russia’s bloody war is over, there will be no more human suffering and no more civilian casualties in Europe.