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

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March 22, 2024

Thank you, Madam President. And thank you High Representative Nakamitsu, for your briefing. I also welcome the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to this meeting.

Madam President. The Russian delegation called for this meeting to once again complain that assistance to Ukraine for its self-defense is prolonging a war that the Kremlin started.

Yet hours before this meeting, Russia launched yet another unconscionable large-scale missile and drone strike against several regions of Ukraine and energy infrastructure. Early reports indicate several dead and over one million people without electricity.

We should all see this – the cynicism in today’s meeting for what it is: Russia is complaining about the very assistance to Ukraine that is protecting civilians and critical infrastructure from its attacks.

On January 31, 2022, as Russia amassed over one hundred thousand troops along Ukraine’s borders, the Russian representative denied to this Council any intent to invade and claimed, “The discussions about a threat of war is provocative in and of itself. You are almost calling for this. You want it to happen. You’re waiting for it to happen, as if you want to make your words become a reality.”

Madam President. It was not “discussions about a threat of war” that invaded Ukraine. Russian troops did. It bears repeating: It was Putin and Putin’s decision alone to wage this war of territorial conquest.

Since then, the UN Secretary-General and over 140 UN Member States have been clear in condemning Russia’s aggression in violation of the UN Charter.

Madam President. Ukraine’s right of self-defense is reflected in Article 51 of that same Charter.

Meanwhile, Russia procured weapons from rogue regimes in violation of Security Council resolutions. It continues to procure weapons to fuel its war of aggression.

Today, Russia’s relationship with Iran and the DPRK are deeper than ever. We are concerned that Russia now intends to purchase ballistic missiles from Iran. We call on Iran to not provide such destabilizing weaponry to Russia.

Madam President. The United States previously brought to light clear evidence of Iran’s transfers of armed Iranian UAVs to Russia in violation of binding restrictions under Resolution 2231 that were in place at the time of the acquisition.

Iran has continued to provide Russia with significant numbers of UAVs, guided aerial bombs, and artillery ammunition, which Russia has been using for its attacks on Ukraine that have wounded and killed numerous civilians.

Since late December 2023, Russian forces have fired more than 40 North Korean ballistic missiles, procured from the DPRK in violation of Security Council resolutions, against Ukraine. It has done so on at least 10 occasions.

Since September 2023, Russia has procured more than 10,000 shipping containers – the equivalent of 260,000 metric tons of munitions or munitions related materials from the DPRK, again in violation of the UN arms embargo on the DPRK.

We recall these facts today as Russia again feigns victimhood in a war it started.

According to the Commission of Inquiry report released last week, there is evidence of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in many regions of Ukraine and in the Russian Federation.

The report concluded that many of these violations “amount to war crimes and include willful killings, attacks on civilians, unlawful confinement, torture, rape, and forced transfers and deportations of children.”

We applaud the Government of Ukraine for allowing investigators access to establish the facts on the ground while also noting with concern the Commission’s inability “to establish meaningful communication with the Russian Federation.”

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

Madam President. We renew our calls for Russia to immediately withdraw its forces from Ukrainian territory within its internationally recognized borders; cease its unlawful procurement of DPRK origin materiel; and meet its responsibilities as a member of this Council.

Thank you, Madam President.

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