Thank you, President. Thank you, Ms Nakamitsu, for your briefing. President, Russia has not called this meeting to discuss prospects for peace. It has called this meeting to try, again, to deflect responsibility for its war.
Let’s look at the facts. This time last year, Russia had assembled a military force of over 100,000 troops and massive accumulation of weaponry and equipment on three sides of Ukraine.
On 24 February, Russia launched its all-out invasion. President Putin claimed he was stopping a genocide in the Donbas. The ICJ rejected this reasoning and ordered Russia immediately to end its invasion.
Russia’s real objectives were revealed when it attempted the illegal annexation of further Ukrainian territory, a tactic from the same playbook as Crimea in 2014. The UN membership rejected this decisively, and repeatedly demanded Russia end its invasion and withdraw.
Yet Russia has continued. It has done so with the assistance of Belarus, and using weapons sourced from Iran and DPRK in violation of UN sanctions. Thus armed, Russia shows no sign of stopping, and appears now to be preparing for a further offensive.
President, colleagues. Russia is why there isn’t peace in Ukraine.
In the face of this onslaught, Ukraine has had no choice but to exercise its UN Charter right to defend itself. It has done so resolutely and successfully, but at massive cost to its people and its resources. It is in this context that the UK, alongside others, has recently pledged further and enduring defensive support to Ukraine – this includes bolstering training for Ukrainian troops, announced during President Zelensky’s visit to London today. We are proud of that support; to help the Ukrainian people defend their country, protect their sovereignty and fight for their territory.
Russia still has hundreds of thousands of troops within Ukraine’s borders, attacking it every day. Surely none of us can object to Ukraine having the means to protect itself from this aggression.
But what Ukraine wants, what we all want, is peace. We welcome and support Ukraine’s proposals to this end. Peace, to be just and sustainable, must be based on the principles of the UN Charter which we have all pledged to uphold.
President, if Russia truly wanted peace, it would not be calling spurious meetings of the Security Council. It would immediately end its illegal invasion, withdraw from Ukraine and return in good faith to the negotiating table it overturned last February.