Remarks by Ambassador Robert Wood, Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs, at a UN Security Council Briefing Called by Russia on Threats to International Peace and Security

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February 6, 2024

Thank you, Madam President. Thank you, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, for your briefing.

We have seen the news reports of a strike hitting a bakery in Russia-occupied eastern Ukraine with at least 28 killed on February 3.

While we are unable to independently verify that information, the United States laments all civilian casualties and expresses its sincerest condolences to the families of any civilians killed.

The unfortunate reality is Russia does not allow media freedom or independent reporting, so such claims are difficult to confirm.

Though there is much we don’t know, we do know this: The Kremlin bears full responsibility for the unconscionable death and destruction brought about as a consequence of Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine, in violation of the UN Charter. Russian forces invaded a peaceful neighbor and continue their relentless attacks against Ukraine.

We also know that attacks targeting civilians and civilian objects are violations of international humanitarian law.

We again call for the protection of all civilians, on all sides, of every conflict. All parties to a conflict must take feasible precautions to minimize civilian harm.

In contrast to Russia’s lack of transparency and contempt for international law, the Government of Ukraine has demonstrated a commitment to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law and to fully investigate any allegations of violations or abuses committed by its forces.

Though Russia continues to deny investigators access to the parts of Ukraine it occupies, brave investigators associated with the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine continue their heroic efforts to document and investigate all alleged violations and abuses of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law, and related crimes by conducting fact-finding missions near the frontlines and in formerly occupied areas.

This reporting has painted a brutal, blood-soaked image of civilian suffering and unspeakable atrocities committed by Russian forces in Bucha and many other places.

While Russia feigns concern for Ukrainian civilians in Russia-occupied territories, Russian forces continue to inflict immense suffering on Ukrainian civilians.

As we approach two years of Putin’s senseless and brutal war, we must remember these facts borne out of the hard work of unrelenting independent investigators.

We must remember that Russia alone started this war, and its aggression against Ukraine is a blatant violation of the UN Charter and of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. It is President Putin’s single-minded pursuit of the obliteration of the sovereign state of Ukraine and subjugation of its people that is prolonging this war.

Even as we sit here, Russia continues to flout international law as it doubles down on its violations of the UN arms embargo on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. To date, Russia has launched DPRK-supplied ballistic missiles against Ukraine on at least nine occasions.

Russia and the DPRK must be held accountable for their actions which undermine longstanding obligations under UN Security Council resolutions.

These unlawful arms transfers and potential technology transfers from Russia to the DPRK undermine regional stability and the global nonproliferation regime as well as the Security Council’s credibility.

To be clear: Russia is the only aggressor in this war and the only one that could end this war today. But even in the complete absence of any serious demonstration of interest by Putin in a peaceful resolution to the war, Ukraine continues to seek a pathway to a just and lasting peace consistent with principles of the UN Charter.

We renew our calls for Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders, cease its unlawful procurement of arms and materiel from the DPRK, and meet its responsibilities as a member of this Council.

Thank you, Madam President.

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