Amid the influx of weapons pouring into Ukraine from abroad, all arms transfers must abide strictly by international transit, safeguard and control regimes, and “must not derail the aspiration for peace”, the senior UN disarmament official told the Security Council on Wednesday.
Speaking during the meeting, which was requested by the delegation of the Russian Federation, Izumi Nakamitsu, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, noted that a number of governments have already provided heavy conventional armaments and munitions to Ukraine.
Those include battlefield vehicles, air defence capabilities, large-calibre artillery systems, and uncrewed combat aerial vehicles, or drones, among others.
More recently, she said, several States have announced their intention to provide progressively heavier, more modern systems – such as frontline battle tanks – the theatre of war.
“The large-scale influx of weapons into any situation of armed conflict amplifies concerns regarding the escalation of the conflict and risks of diversion,” she warned, underscoring the need to stick firmly to international protocols governing arms transfers.
Besides arms transfers to Ukraine, the High Representative also cited reports of States transferring weapons, such as combat drones, to the Russian armed forces for use in Ukraine.
In accordance with international norms, she said, any transfers of arms and ammunition should involve pre-transfer risk assessments and post-shipment controls.
Information exchange between the importing, transit and exporting States is also critical, as are appropriate accounting and safeguarding of arms and ammunition, customs and border control measures.
Ms. Nakamitsu also emphasized the conflict’s heavy toll on civilians – noting that the UN human rights office (OHCHR) has recorded more than 18,000 civilian casualties to date since Russia’s full-scale invasion began – and reiterated the responsibility of all parties to protect civilians.
Vassily Nebenzia, Russia’s ambassador to the UN, also spoke during Wednesday’s meeting, drawing attention to the “never-ending conveyor belt” of new supplies flooding into Ukraine over the last three months.
He also spotlighted rising share prices of certain defence companies, noting that Western countries have found in Ukraine a pretext with which to significantly increase their defence budgets and the revenues of domestic arms producers.
Meanwhile, he said, those same countries are sending mercenaries and service personnel to the Ukrainian battlefield, without which Kyiv would not be able to operate Western weapon systems.
Against that backdrop, he said, Kyiv and its supporters are responsible for a range of glaring violations of international humanitarian law, carried out by their proxies.
Invasion ‘not unprovoked’
Also addressing the Council at the invitation of Russia, was musician Roger Waters, former band member of Pink Floyd, and peace activist, who stated that he speaks for the countless “voiceless” people around the world who are concerned about the high volume of weapons currently flooding into Ukraine.
Calling for an urgent end to the fighting, he asked the Council’s five permanent members to put their own goals – citing the example of bigger profits for war industries – to one side.
Noting that the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation was indeed illegal, he said it was nevertheless “not unprovoked”. Both actions should be equally condemned, he said.
“Not one more Russian or Ukrainian life is to be spent,” he stressed, emphasizing that the voiceless majority – many of whom cannot afford the most basic necessities – does not willingly raise sons and daughters to serve as fodder for the cannons of the world’s major powers.
‘War of choice’
Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s permanent representative, demanded that Russia immediately implement the demands of the General Assembly and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) – namely, to withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s territory.
Describing the conflict as Moscow’s “war of choice”, he also questioned the choice to have Mr. Waters – who “knows so little, but seems to know it so fluently” – address the Security Council.
He drew attention to Article 51 of the UN Charter, which explicitly allows countries to exercise their inherent right to “individual or collective self-defence” in the case of an armed attack against a UN Member State.
“If the Security Council remains immobilized by the evil doer and cannot punish it, let us and all responsible nations do this work […] for our common good,” he stressed.
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Several Council members echoed that sentiment, demanding Moscow’s full and immediate withdrawal from the internationally recognized borders of Ukraine alongside an urgent ceasefire.
Nicolas de Rivière, France’s ambassador, said the peaceful settlement of the war depends on Russia, “which is entirely responsible for it.”
He pointed out that if Moscow stopped the fighting today there would be peace, but if Ukraine stopped fighting, it would be annihilated.
It is against that backdrop that France is providing assistance to Ukraine, both bilaterally and through the European Union, he said, emphasizing that a sovereign UN Member State has been unilaterally attacked by another.
“Let us not allow [the Russian Federation] to invert who is responsible for what,” he said.