Remarks by Ambassador Robert Wood, Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs, at a UN Security Council Briefing on Ukraine

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January 10, 2024

Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo and Director Wosornu, for your very important and, I might add, very sobering briefings today.

Mr. President, as this is the first meeting this year on the impacts of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, we must not lose sight of the fact that the UN Charter gives this Council the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security.

Because the Council is entrusted with this responsibility, we must call out violations of international law.

Last August, the United States, along with Japan, the Republic of Korea, France, and the United Kingdom, warned that arms negotiations between Russia and the DPRK were actively advancing. We noted how the Russian Defense Minister stood beside Kim Jong Un at a military parade that showcased DPRK ballistic missile advancements that were prohibited by this Council. Russia and the DPRK did what they always do when confronted with the truth: deflect.

The United States has shed light on this situation and the world is taking notice.

This morning, the United States, along with France, Japan, Malta, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom issued a joint statement condemning the military cooperation that is now come to fruition between the DPRK and Russia. It’s abhorrent that a permanent member of the UN Security Council is flagrantly violating Council resolutions to attack another UN Member State – violations that further the suffering of the Ukrainian people, support Russia’s brutal war, and undermine the global nonproliferation regime.

And yesterday, Secretary Blinken, along with 48 other foreign ministers and the EU High Representative, condemned the DPRK’s export and Russia’s procurement of DPRK ballistic missiles, as well as Russia’s recent use of these missiles against Ukraine.

We know why the Russian Federation seeks to call so many meetings on legitimate military assistance to Ukraine. It is a desperate attempt to deflect attention away from its and the DPRK’s violations of Council resolutions, including the UN arms embargo, which prohibits all Member States from procuring arms or related materiel from the DPRK and prohibits the DPRK from exporting arms or related materiel.

Russian forces have now used DPRK ballistic missiles in Ukraine several times. We expect Russia will use additional missiles to destroy more of Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and kill Ukrainian civilians.

Mr. President, upholding the Charter and addressing the terrible situation that has now been ongoing for almost two years in Ukraine also requires addressing the Russian Federation’s Security Council violations. We urge all Member States to make clear that the Russian Federation’s actions are unacceptable, even more so as a permanent member of this Council.

Russia will again attempt to deflect. But here are some of the UN’s recent findings on the impacts of Russia’s war of aggression:

In November, the UN reported that the civilian death toll of Russia’s full-scale invasion had reached 10,000 civilians, including more than 560 children. This number continues to grow as Russia’s air attacks have intensified.

The World Health Organization recorded more than 1,400 attacks on health facilities since February 2022, and not even half of the hospitals are functional in the east and south.

In the territory of Ukraine occupied by Russia, the UN has documented the death of over 100 Ukrainian civilians after being taken into Russian custody, including a child.

The Food and Agriculture Organization noted the war’s significant economic repercussions in terms of global food, agricultural inputs, and energy prices. Russia’s war has led to the destruction of agricultural production, corrupted natural resources, and disrupted the export of grain to countries facing food insecurity.

Mr. President, after nearly two years, we have seen the massive destruction the Russian Federation has wrought upon Ukraine’s cities and people. However, the full scale and long-term impacts of Russia’s war remain unknown.

What we do know is that Russia alone has the ability to end this war today. Russia must end this brutal war against Ukraine and withdraw its troops from Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders.

If Russia had any interest in demonstrating to this Council and to the world a commitment to maintaining international peace and security, it should start by ceasing its violations of the Charter and relevant Security Council resolutions.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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