Security Council: Ukraine

Note: A complete summary of today's Security Council meeting will be made available upon completion.


ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, noted the approaching one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine. Throughout the holiday season, the Russian Federation's forces continued their strikes on key cities in Ukraine, she said, noting that too many Ukrainians spent the festive season in bomb shelters or mourning the loss of loved ones. Drawing attention to 10 people killed on 24 December 2022, as well as the attacks of 29 December 2022 targeting various regions, she said that, despite the announcement of a possible cessation of hostilities over Orthodox Christmas - a holy period for both Russians and Ukrainians - the attacks have continued in the new year. Ground fighting has intensified, especially in the Donetsk region, while relentless battles, including street fighting, pose a great threat to the civilian population in areas of active hostilities. "The war has forced millions to flee their homes," she said, adding that within Ukraine some 5.91 million people, 65 per cent of them women and girls, are internally displaced.

Noting 745 recorded attacks on health-care facilities in 2022, she added, "the war is also leaving invisible scars". According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly a quarter of the population is reportedly at risk of developing a mental-health condition, she pointed out, adding that an estimated 5.7 million school-aged children have been directly affected, including 3.6 million due to the closure of educational institutions early in the conflict. Aid organizations have continued efforts to expand life-saving operations to previously inaccessible areas, including in Kharkiv and Kherson regions. As of 5 January, humanitarian partners have provided food to almost 9 million people, while the same number of people have received critical health-care support across the country, she said. Further, humanitarian partners have distributed hundreds of generators to make sure critical services like hospitals and schools can continue operating, she said, adding that parties must facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for all civilians in need.

Turning to efforts towards accountability, she said that, since 24 February, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has documented over 90 cases of conflict-related sexual violence, the majority of which fall under torture and ill-treatment in detention, predominantly affecting men. The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court will prioritize investigation of the alleged targeting of civilian objects and the unlawful transfer and deportation of civilians, including children, from Ukraine to the Russian Federation. Welcoming ongoing contacts towards exchanges of prisoners of war, as well as the meeting hosted in Türkiye on 11 January between the Russian and Ukrainian ombudspersons, she added that the Black Sea Grain Initiative continues to make a difference, including by helping bring global food prices down. The United Nations is engaging with all stakeholders to remove remaining obstacles to Russian Federation food and fertilizer exports, including ammonia. While the invasion has created a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe, traumatized a generation of children, and accelerated the global food and energy crises, this grave damage could pale in comparison with the consequences of a prolonged conflict, she cautioned. Ukraine, Russian Federation and the world cannot afford for this war to continue, she underscored.


FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said a year has passed and there have been 320 days of war that have devastated the Ukrainian population and the country's infrastructure. There are thousands of civilians dead and 8 million people have become refugees. There has been a tremendous human toll, yet the Russian Federation continues on the same course. Children are killed and deeply traumatized. It is striking that there are no more children left in Ukraine as all have become premature adults as they are forced to grow up years over a period of months. Since the first day of the war, the Russian Federation has been the aggressor State and Ukraine is fighting for its survival. It is essential to help Ukraine to defend itself. Only eight years have separated this invasion and the Russian Federation's invasion of Crimea. "The world needs Ukraine within its borders to save a world order from the current and future transgressors of commonly agreed rules," he said. The Kremlin has not changed its goals, which is why it is important to continue to support Ukraine with political, military, financial and humanitarian support and assistance.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) recalled that, on 1 January, the people of Ukraine endured three straight nights of Russian missiles and drone strikes against their cities. "These attacks were barbaric, they destroyed systems that provide heat and light to the Ukrainian people during the coldest, darkest part of winter," she said, adding "they are not the actions of a country ready to give up on war". The Council is responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, she asserted, noting that, 12 months ago, the United States first warned that the Russian Federation was planning a massive full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Despite her country pursuing every diplomatic avenue to prevent war, "Russia chose a different path", she said, declaring: "President Putin chose to strike at the heart of the United Nations Charter, he chose war." Today, the world is feeling the spillover effects of this senseless war: it has massively exacerbated global food prices, with 345 million people suffering or being at risk of acute food insecurity. The war has decreased Ukraine's food exports by 30 per cent, she continued, pointing to the Black Sea Grain Initiative that is critical to feeding the world's hungry. Grain is moving at just half the rate of the pace back in September and October. The international community must stay "laser-focused" on the horrors happening in Ukraine on the ground, she emphasized, sounding alarm at cases of sexual violence committed against women, men and children by Russian Federation's forces. She condemned Iran's and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's transfer of prohibited material to the Russian Federation. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea has delivered arms to the Wagner Group, in direct violation of the Council's resolutions, she said, voicing concern that the country plans to deliver more military equipment to the Group.

HERNÁN PÉREZ LOOSE (Ecuador), noting that his country has unequivocally condemned the Russian Federation's military aggression since it began, said that such aggression is contrary to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. Further, it has no place in an international order based on the rule of law, he emphasized, recalling the Council's debate on this topic on 12 January. He went on to express regret over the partial application of Article 27.3 of the Charter - from which the veto power is derived - as it obliges parties to a dispute to abstain from voting. He also recalled the Council's presidential statement issued on 6 May 2022, in which the organ demonstrated unity in expressing concern over the maintenance of peace and security in Ukraine and in recognizing that, pursuant to the Charter, all Member States are obliged to resolve international disputes through peaceful means. Underscoring that the Council and its members must honour that declaration, he urged an end to the invasion. Additionally, he called on Council members to explore ways to facilitate an immediate cessation of hostilities and re-establish peace and security in Ukraine, based on respect for that country's sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence.

PEDRO COMISSÁRIO AFONSO (Mozambique), noting that, after almost a year of armed conflict the war shows little sign of abating, said the conflict appears to thread a narrow path of escalation. "Europe, a continent at the origin of two tragic world wars and the epicentre of a long cold war, is again presenting to the world a gloomy situation," he said. Calling for a negotiated solution, he added that the concept of collective security was at the centre of the creation of the United Nations. Further, humanitarian work must be given a high priority, he said, calling on the international community to shore up the platform that led to the Black Sea Grain Initiative with the support of the Secretary-General's Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance.

PASCALE CHRISTINE BAERISWYL (Switzerland) said that this year began as the last one ended with a large wave of air strikes launched by the Russian Federation and the intense fighting continues. The large-scale invasion by the Russian Federation is a violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations, and her delegation supports the sovereignty of Ukraine. Her delegation calls on the Russian Federation to de-escalate the situation and withdraw its troops from sovereign Ukraine territory, including the area that has been annexed. She called for rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to Ukraine. She condemned the involvement of Belarus in the conflict. The civilian population has paid far too high a price. Since 22 February thousands of civilians have died or been injured and traumatized. There are horrific situations and war crimes and violations of human rights. Thousands of women and children have been subject to human trafficking and violence. She called for a cessation of all attacks and for diplomatic solutions and redoubled efforts to maintain the region's nuclear safety.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÉRE (France) said soon it will be a year since Ukraine resisted with bravery and determination the Russian Federation's aggression which was unleashed in violation of international law. With each Ukrainian victory on the ground, Moscow reacts with cowardice by shelling civilian infrastructure, with the aim of breaking the morale of the Ukrainian people. The unilateral announcement by the Kremlin of a ceasefire that the Russian Federation has not upheld is additional evidence of the country's cynicism. Moscow's strikes violate the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law and international criminal law, he asserted, adding that these unacceptable acts constitute war crimes that will not go unpunished. Stocks of munition in the Russian Federation are diminishing as the country faces major difficulties on the ground. Against this background, Moscow is seeking supplies by all means possible, including by violating Council resolutions. Moreover, to compensate for huge losses, Moscow does not hesitate to mobilize Wagner Group mercenaries. Voicing concern over the devastating consequences of Moscow's aggression on global food security, which the country uses "as a weapon of war and an instrument of blackmail", he praised the effectiveness of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Moscow has consistently demonstrated that it does not wish to see peace, he warned, stressing that peace can only be achieved by full withdrawal of the Russian Federation's troops from the whole of the Ukrainian territory.

ZHANG JUN (China) said that the current situation in Ukraine results from the long-term accumulation and evolution of deep-seated security imbalances in Europe. Only at the negotiating table can the war end and European security architecture be rebuilt, and therefore, the international community should encourage the Russian Federation and Ukraine to engage in dialogue. Escalating sanctions or providing weapons will only make the situation more difficult and may provoke larger-scale confrontation, thus exacerbating and prolonging the conflict. He went on to note that shelling around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant continues, expressing concern over the safety and security of the facility and calling for the cessation of all military operations that could affect the same. Additionally, he said that the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine and other crises are mutually reinforcing, resulting in a devastating impact on developing countries, which are suffering from increasingly high inflation, debt burdens, poverty and hunger. Adding that the disruption of global supply chains by unilateral sanctions cannot be ignored, he called on major developed countries to adopt responsible economic, monetary and trade policies to avoid negative spillover effects that exacerbate the economic and livelihood difficulties of developing countries.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) said that, while the temporary ceasefire during Orthodox Christmas could pave the way for the resumption of dialogue, "it is heartbreaking to see that even in such moments it is impossible to reach an agreement". Urging the parties to break this senseless dynamic, he said the exclusive pursuit of military solutions will inevitably stoke long-lasting resentments. Expressing regret about the disbanding of the fact-finding mission set up by the United Nations to investigate the incident of 29 July 2022 in Olenivka, even before it was able to initiate its work, he said the parties must increase efforts to ensure the security of future missions of this nature. Reiterating the call for the well-being of the civilian population on both sides of the front line to be everyone's priority, he welcomed Türkiye's renewed mediation efforts.

KHALILAH HACKMAN (Ghana) said international peace and security are under threat from the war in Ukraine and the Council needs to strengthen peace efforts by drawing on the tools for peaceful settlement provided by the United Nations Charter. The Council must begin to consider a clear-cut peace process involving the parties and all other relevant stakeholders. It would require the good faith commitment of all Council members to find pragmatic and mutually acceptable solutions grounded in the rules of international law and the values of the Charter. "It is most pressing for the Security Council to find common ground upon which it can accelerate action for peace in Ukraine," she said, adding that the situation depends on the Russian Federation's decision to stop its violations of Ukraine's sovereignty, political independence and territorial integrity. Her delegation reiterated its call for an end to the war through the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Russian Federation forces from the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine.

VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said meetings on Ukraine, which have been convened by Moscow's "former Western partners", recall a hypocrisy fair. The hypocrisy of the representatives of the collective West is taking on the oddest forms, he said, recalling that Ukraine recently threatened his country with terrible punishment and almost threatened to launch an offensive against Moscow. "Behind this lovely façade, there is a rotten structure," he said, asking where the money provided to Kyiv is going. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's peace initiative is based on a hypocritical formula, he noted. "Anyone who believed for a minute the peaceful intentions of the Ukrainian dictator, I would like to remind them that, from 30September, the very possibility of dialogue with our country was forbidden by Ukrainian legislation," he said, pointing to decree 679 in which Ukraine "noted the impossibility of conducting negotiations with President […] Putin". He asserted that this legislative provocation reflects the intension to continue fighting to the last Ukrainian.

The Kyiv regime and its sponsors have completely forgotten the meaning of the word "peace", he noted, adding that the European Union is financing arms deliveries to Kyiv through the European Peace Facility. Ukrainian authorities once again showed their true and far-from-peaceful colours in March 2022 when they withdrew their own realistic elements of a peace agreement which Moscow was ready to discuss, he said, noting that the Kyiv regime - despite facts and common sense - embraced the illusion that, with the increasing direct support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), it could defeat the Russian Federation on the battlefield. As a result, Ukraine has become in its essence a NATO private military enterprise: "It gets money, it is supplied with weapons and intelligence information, it is told what to target and who to attack." Meanwhile, the Ukrainian people - forced to fight for someone else's objectives - continue to suffer.

Condemning "the NATO war by proxy to the last Ukrainian", he spotlighted elements necessary for peace to prevail in Ukraine. He opposed the notion that the aim of the special military operation is to destroy Ukraine as a State. Moscow has never set such goals, he asserted, adding that his country is waging war not with the Ukrainian people, but with the criminal nationalist regime which came to power in 2014 as a result of an anti-constitutional coup supported by the West, proclaiming the policy of "de-Russifying" Ukraine and glorifying Nazi collaborators. The main goal of the special military operation was to end the eight-year war in Donbass. The situation would have evolved differently if Kyiv had implemented the Minsk agreements; however, he continued, this does not fit with the plan of President Zelenskyy and his predecessors. The goal of the special military operation is to ensure that no threat will emanate from Ukrainian territory for Moscow and that the discrimination against the Russian-speaking population will end. "If this can be achieved through peaceful negotiations, we are ready to engage; if not, we will achieve it through military means," he declared. He further cautioned that the Zelenskyy regime has become an authoritarian dictatorship which itself is a significant obstacle to peace.

MICHEL XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) underscored that the bitter fighting in Soledar and Bakhmut compels the Council to act, as civilians are being subjected to regular shelling and are "gripped in an unbearable vice". The use of drones, explosive weapons with wide areas of effect, cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines have greatly increased the toll of the war in Ukraine, as have attacks targeting energy, health and water infrastructure. This, combined with direct attacks on civilians, has made it more difficult to distribute humanitarian aid to the millions in need - a number that is increasing as temperatures plummet. Against that backdrop, he called on the warring parties to uphold their commitments under international humanitarian law and refrain from using weapons with indiscriminate effects. As the critical juncture of 12 months of tireless war approaches, everything suggests that the coming spring will be - as the current winter has been - a season of increasingly violent offensives. He therefore urged that Council meetings prioritize the search for a solution, adding that the channels of diplomacy must activate to put an end to this bloody war.

VANESSA FRAZIER (Malta), condemning the illegal war against Ukraine, said the systematic targeting of critical infrastructure, including energy and water-distribution services, have disrupted essential services. International humanitarian and human rights law must be respected at all times, she said, highlighting the repercussions of the war on children. The displacement of war, as well as attacks on schools, disproportionally affect children, she said, warning that the long-term consequences of this cannot be easily reversed. Further, children have been forcibly moved to the Russian Federation, breaking family ties, she noted, adding that civil society organizations must be given priority in humanitarian coordination and decision-making at all levels. Recalling the harrowing testimonies of torture and trafficking, she called for accountability for all violations, including sexual violence.

LANA ZAKI NUSSEIBEH (United Arab Emirates) noted that, since last February, the Council has met more than 40 times to discuss the war in Ukraine. Today, nearly 40 per cent of Ukraine's population needs humanitarian aid and the onset of winter compounds civilian suffering. Everyone acknowledges the war cannot continue and her delegation has consistently said there is no viable military solution to sustainably end the conflict. She acknowledged that the parties, Ukraine and the Russian Federation, must realize that point, yet the international community can, and must, do more to accelerate that process. It must use active and deliberate diplomacy to collectively work to prevent an escalation, and expansion, of the war, including minimizing the risk of a miscalculation. "We must also preserve the space for positive interactions between the sides, at the very least, to normalize engagement," she said, adding that incentives should be provided through a post-war vision that is just and sustainable. The international community should leverage its clear and urgent interest in peacefully ending the war, she said, adding that it must strive for an inclusive multilateralism, which is critical to addressing urgent global challenges and will safeguard Ukraine's sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. Doing so will also ensure the region's long-term security, stability and prosperity.

BARBARA WOODWORD (United Kingdom) said that, since the Council's last meeting on Moscow's illegal invasion of Ukraine - on 9 December 2022 - the Russian Federation has spent that time bombing civilians, attacking Ukraine's critical infrastructure, and attempting to seize more Ukrainian territory. They have continued to do this with the assistance of Belarus, and using weapons sourced from Iran and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, with utter contempt for this Council. "Millions of Ukrainians spent the holiday period sheltering from missile and drone attacks, sitting in the dark and the cold, and living as refugees, displaced persons, and prisoners," she said, stressing that this war has created a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe, traumatized a generation of children, and accelerated the global food and energy crisis. Moscow can choose to end all this immediately: by stopping its attacks against Ukraine and by withdrawing its forces from the country. While the Russian Federation's assault continues, Ukraine has no choice but to exercise its right to defend itself, she asserted.

ISHIKANE KIMIHIRO (Japan), Council President for January, speaking in his national capacity, condemned in the strongest terms Moscow's aggression against Ukraine, and urged the Russian Federation to immediately stop its war of aggression, withdraw all its troops from Ukraine and respect that country's independence and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. He also condemned Moscow's attacks against civilian infrastructure and cities across Ukraine, sounding alarm that innocent civilians, including children, have been exposed to strikes even during the New Year's holidays. Destruction of energy infrastructure has seriously aggravated the humanitarian situation in the harsh winter, he cautioned, calling any continuation of attacks "completely unacceptable". Indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilian populations constitute a war crime, he asserted, underlining that the international community must hold perpetrators to account. Strongly condemning the transfer of unmanned aerial vehicles from Iran to the Russian Federation, he said Japan would support efforts by the United Nations Secretariat to investigate the potential usage of Iranian drones by Moscow in its war against Ukraine. Moreover, he strongly condemned the Russian Federation's irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and its seizure and militarization of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, fully supporting the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in ensuring nuclear safety. In opposition to Moscow's weaponization of energy and food, he supported the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

EMINE DZHAPAROVA, First Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, pointed out that, since the Council last met on the Russian Federation's war against her country, the situation on the ground has further deteriorated. In Bakhmut and Soledar, there are ruins instead of residences, dead bodies instead of joyful crowds, charred trunks instead of forests and a moon-like surface instead of fields of grain. Stressing the shared nature of the responsibility to restore peace and justice, she highlighted Ukraine President Zelenskyy's 10-point peace formula, which is aimed at ensuring security in all its dimensions. These include food security, radiation and nuclear safety, energy security, countering ecocide and preventing future aggression, and she called on all responsible nations to facilitate and promote the peace formula. She also stressed that the international community should be united in pressuring Moscow to destroy its war machine, pointing out that the aggressor State has already felt the impact of sanctions regardless of whether it admits this. "And, although we haven't won yet, Russia has already lost," she stressed, calling for reinforced sanctions in sectors of particular economic importance to Moscow - namely, a full oil and gas embargo and the disconnection of Russian banks from the global financial system.

She also stated that, as the Russian Federation finds itself in total isolation, it is hastily intensifying its ties with other pariahs, irresponsibly getting them ever more involved in its bloody war. This applies to both Belarus, which denies its actual participation, and Iran, which supplies drones that are used to implement Moscow's strategy of missile terror. On that point, she reiterated her country's request for the United Nations to investigate Iran's provision of unmanned aerial vehicles to the Russian Federation. Also noting that the International Criminal Court does not have sufficient jurisdictional power to prosecute Russian Federation aggression, she called for the establishment of a special tribunal to hold Russian war criminals accountable. "There is no room for compromise with evil," she went on to stress, noting that, "if Ukraine stops fighting, it will die", but if the Russian Federation stops its aggression, the war will end. She added that everyday life in Ukraine proceeds under the exact conditions the United Nations has committed to counter - war and insecurity, lack of access to basic services like water and electricity, poverty and environmental degradation. She underscored, however, that the Ukrainian people do not complain - despite the medieval lifestyle forced on them - and rather, live their lives with dignity while cherishing their unity and ability to resist.

WOJCIECH GERWEL, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of Poland, noted that, with each and every day of its aggression against Ukraine, the Russian Federation is breaking the most basic principles of international law. His country will continue to act as the assistance hub for Ukraine as long as necessary, he pledged. In addition to offering shelter to millions of Ukrainian refugees, Poland provides and facilitates transfers of multidimensional aid and is also hosting several hundred humanitarian workers from over a dozen United Nations agencies and international organizations, he said. Highlighting the conclusions of the Lublin Triangle summit of the Presidents of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania, which took place in Lviv just two days ago, he said that, in their joint declaration, the three leaders underlined their full support for the creation of an ad hoc international tribunal for the crime of aggression committed by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

Expressing deep concern about the role of Belarus in the Kremlin's strategy regarding Ukraine, he said that "Minsk is politically and practically supporting the Russian aggression". The Russian Federation's military build-up in Belarus, including the military drills to take place between 16 January and 1 February should ring additional alarm bells, he said, recalling the deployment of Russian Federation troops and military equipment in Belarus just 12 months ago as a prelude to a full-scale invasion. "The concentration of troops in our region usually means negative consequences," he said, adding that Belarus can still reverse its course and make the right choice. Minsk has to be conscious that their further active engagement in the invasion will be met with firm response from the international community, he underscored.

The international community must help Ukraine win this war and endure the winter, including through urgent provisions of specialized energy equipment and repairing destroyed energy infrastructure, he said. The Baltic States will continue to help restore Ukraine's energy sector and offer other official assistance. The three countries are among the largest supporters of Ukraine per capita, and together have provided more than €1.3 billion in official assistance to Ukraine since February 2022, he noted. This figure excludes private initiatives. The three countries, along with the European Union, will continue to develop options to use frozen Russian Federation assets to support Ukraine's reconstruction and for reparations, in line with international law. "We must ensure that the principle 'aggressor pays the damage' is fully implemented in practice," he said. He welcomed all meaningful efforts to bring the Russian Federation's war of aggression to an end, including the 10-point peace formula proposed by Ukraine's President.

BJÖRN OLOF SKOOG, Head of Delegation of the European Union, in its capacity as observer, speaking also on behalf of other countries, said that, in 2023, the Russian Federation continues its brutal attacks on civilians and critical infrastructure in the midst of winter. Moscow's ongoing campaign of systematic air strikes against civilian targets and critical infrastructure in Ukraine must stop. These inhumane attacks only aim to increase human suffering and deprive Ukrainians of electricity, heating and water. These attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure add to the growing evidence that Moscow is committing war crimes, as reported by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, he added. Against this background, the European Union is intensifying its provision of humanitarian assistance to help Ukraine get through the winter. The bloc has also responded with additional restrictive measures against the Russian Federation, as well as against Iran, in response to the delivery of drones.

Calling on Moscow to ensure unimpeded humanitarian access to all areas under temporary control, he stressed that the contamination of landmines and remnants of war left behind by Russian Federation's armed forces poses serious threat to the lives of civilians. He further welcomed efforts to ensure full accountability for war crimes in connection with Moscow's war of aggression, expressing support for the investigations by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. The European Union stands ready to support Ukraine's initiative for a just peace, he emphasized.


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