Statement by Deputy Political Coordinator Thomas Phipps at the UN Security Council meeting on threats to international peace and security.

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President Putin is creating a Russia that is geared for constant war

22 March 2024

Thank you, President, and thank you High Representative Nakamitsu for your briefing today.

President, the Russian Representative has today once again attempted to recast Russia’s war on Ukraine as a product of ‘Western aggression’.

We have of course heard many different explanations from our Russian colleagues in this Chamber.

When Russia’s full-scale invasion began, we were told that occupation of Ukraine was not part of the plan. That the goal was apparently to protect people who had been victimised and exposed to genocide. A claim which the International Court of Justice, of course, dismissed.

We have subsequently been subjected to spurious meetings on biolabs, on persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church and on Russophobia as a threat to international peace and security.

President, Russia’s attempts to obfuscate and distract from reality are not only a waste of this Council’s time, but they are also ineffective. No amount of linguistic gymnastics from our Russian counterparts can change the facts.

The truth regarding Russia’s aggression is clear. For more than two years now, Russia has been engaged in neo-imperial war of aggression in flagrant violation of the UN Charter.

President Putin is creating a Russia, and Russian economy, that is geared for constant war with 40% of the country’s federal budget dedicated to military and security spending alone.

It is clear that President Putin has no intention of peace any time soon and indeed, it begs the question of his plans beyond Ukraine too.

President, in conducting its war of aggression, Russia has relentlessly targeted Ukrainian civilian infrastructure, including through double-tap strikes targeting first responders. Just last night, Russia attempted to carry out a massive missile attack on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Russia has kidnapped Ukrainian children. It has deployed UAVs from Iran, and ballistic missiles from North Korea in violation of this Council’s resolutions and has press-ganged foreign nationals to fight its war from Ghana, from India, from Nepal.

President, as the UN reported this week, in the areas of Ukraine that Russia temporarily occupies, it has attempted to consolidate control through a ‘climate of fear’, by using execution, torture, sexual violence, arbitrary detention, censorship, surveillance, political oppression and movement restrictions – all of this is a stark contrast to the image of happy citizens expressing their democratic rights that the Russian Ambassador attempted to paint in this Council last week.

President, the cost to Russia and the Russian people of President Putin’s neo-imperial vanity have also been profound:

The Russian economy has lost $400 billion through sanctions and hundreds of thousands of young Russians have left for opportunities abroad. For those who have stayed, free speech has been silenced. More than 20,000 have been imprisoned for opposing Putin’s war.

Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been decimated and nearly 3,000 tanks and 105 fixed wing aircraft have been destroyed. The Russian military has suffered more than 350,000 casualties. Of course, you won’t hear about this on Russian television, but it is all too real for the more than a million Russian mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers touched by the tragedy of President Putin’s hubris.

And all this for a war that Russia cannot win.

Russia cannot win because through their courage and ingenuity Ukrainians have shown they will not be subjugated. Russian cannot win because the international community will not abandon Ukraine. We do not have cold feet. We will continue to provide Ukraine with the weapons it needs to defend its territory from Russian aggression.  And President, finally, Russia cannot win because it is vital that imperialism and colonial ideology are consigned to the past.

So, we once again call on the Russian Federation to stop wasting this Council’s time, to end its war of aggression and to uphold the UN Charter.


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