Statement by Ambassador Krzysztof Szczerski, Permanent Representative of Poland, at a UN Security Council Briefing on Russia’s War Against Ukraine

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November 16, 2022

Mr. President,

Allow me to start by providing to the Security Council members some additional details about the yesterday’s tragic event in Poland. On November 15, at around 3.40PM, during yet another wave of massive missile strikes by Russian forces against critical civilian infrastructure in the whole of Ukraine, including in the immediate vicinity of the territory of Poland, two Polish citizens lost their lives in the Polish village of Przewodów, situated around 5 kilometers from the Polish-Ukrainian border. The apparent cause of their death was the explosion from a missile that fell on the location, which has no military background whatsoever. I would like to express our deep gratitude for the gestures of solidarity Poland keeps receiving from all over the world with regards to this tragic event. No matter what was the particular course of events in Przewodów that fatal afternoon, those innocent people would not have been killed if there had been no Russian war against Ukraine. Their only fault was the fact that they lived close to civilian infrastructure on the Ukrainian side of the border that Russia keeps attacking as military targets.

Mr. President,

Yesterday’s sad event teaches us how close we actually live to a potential escalation and spill-over of the Russian war of aggression with far-reaching consequences which no one can foresee. Bearing it in mind, Poland decided to act with full restrain and responsibility. We immediately launched an extensive, multifaceted investigation aimed at explaining all the details of the incident. The very initial findings support the hypothesis that the event was not a deliberate attack, but, naturally, we need to wait with final conclusions until the investigation is over. Poland is also conducting intensive consultations on the incident with its NATO allies and key partners. A decision had also to be made to increase the combat readiness of selected units of the Polish Armed Forces, with particular emphasis on airspace monitoring. We wish to assure the whole international community about the transparency of the ongoing investigation and about the guarantees of collective security which Poland will keep providing to the region, both as an individual country and as a part of NATO, which remains a defensive alliance. We understand our responsibilities and that is why Poland is, and will remain, a regional stronghold of peace, security and stability.

Mr. President,

It is clear that it is Russia which is to blame for menacing the world with the war of aggression and its spillover effects, including yesterday’s tragic incident in Poland. The launching of yesterday’s missile attacks against Ukraine, the fiercest since the beginning of the war, required significant military preparations. Despite recent setbacks on the battlefield, Moscow clearly did not change its goals. It still wants to erase sovereign Ukraine from the map and cause innocent people to suffer. This evidently shows Russia’s absolute lack of will to embark on a path leading to a resolution of the conflict it has created. Russia pretends to be ready for talks, but in reality it is carrying out barbaric attacks against the civilian population and energy infrastructure of Ukraine.

Distinguished Delegates,

The current situation will not change our approach. Poland believes it is crucial to continue the support for Ukraine. Poland has done so since the very beginning of the war. We approach it in a multidimensional way, by providing aid both in Ukraine as well as within our own territory. We will continue on this path. Total estimated value of the Polish aid given in 2022 to Ukrainian refugees, both by individuals as well as local and state authorities, amounts to over 5.5 billion dollars (circa 1% of the Polish GDP). According to OECD estimations, in 2022, Poland will spend for humanitarian and military assistance  the total of 8.5 billion dollars (circa 1.5% of the Polish GDP), becoming one of the major donors to Ukraine.

As we heard today, currently, the most urgent humanitarian issue that we need to focus on is the upcoming winter. Due to Russian bombings over 3.5 million people are left without a roof over their head. The priority is to create shelter for these people. The Russian forces continuously attack the Ukrainian energy infrastructure in a deliberate attempt to aggravate the humanitarian crisis. Their goal is probably also to cause another wave of refugees, which is calculated to destabilize the situation in the countries to which they arrive.

Mr. President,

Russian imperialism needs to be treated as the thing it really is:  a global threat, with far-reaching consequences. This global threat needs to be neutralized before it plunges the whole world further into chaos. This war needs to end with a just peace. It needs to end on terms which are acceptable for Ukraine. The aggressor cannot benefit from its aggression. Instead, we need accountability for war atrocities and damages it has inflicted. Therefore, Poland welcomes the last week’s GA resolution on the creation of the registry of damages mechanism. We see it as a first step in the right direction.

In conclusion, we once again call on all states which stand on the side of international law to take all necessary steps to persuade Russia to stop its aggression and withdraw from Ukrainian territory. This is the only way to prevent further deaths, injuries, and devastations. This is the only way to stop escalation of this large-scale humanitarian and human rights crisis that continues to bring away lives of innocent civilians.

Thank you.

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