Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC briefing on threats to security of commercial navigation in the Red Sea

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January 3, 2024


Let me begin by congratulating you on assuming the duties of President of the Security Council in January and express hopes that you will carry it out successfully. Let me also thank Ambassador Jose de la Gasqa of Ecuador and his team for an excellent stewardship of the Council in December. This past month offered quite a few complex issues for the Council to go through and difficult decisions to make. We believe that Ecuador did an outstanding job as President of the Security Council.

I also welcome the new members of the Council – Guyana, the Republic of Korea, Sierra-Leone, Slovenia, and Algeria.


We thank ASG Khiari and Secretary-General of IMO Arsenio Dominguez for the briefings.

We have serious concerns about the situation in the Red Sea. Its trade routes are a vital artery for international trade and play a key role in maintaining the stability and prosperity of global economy. Free and safe navigation in the region is crucial for ensuring sustainable delivery of commercial and also humanitarian goods, which is critical in terms of providing assistance to countries in difficult socio-economic situations, including Yemen.

We strongly condemn attacks on civilian vessels that jeopardize not only the freedom and safety of navigation but also the lives and health of seafarers. Moreover, they create additional risks and increase instability in the region that is already “ablaze”.

In that connection, Russia supported the Security Council’s press statement on this topic adopted on December 1. We call on the leadership of the Ansar Allah movement to cease any actions that could create threats for commercial vessels and their crews in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, exercise restraint and demonstrate responsible behavior. The movement should respect the principles of safety of navigation. We demand an immediate release of the ‘Galaxy Leader’ and its crew.


This being said, the topic that we have gathered to discuss cannot be viewed in isolation from regional dynamics. It is not happening in a vacuum that the problem of ensuring freedom of navigation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden assumes such an alarming scale. I think none of our colleagues is going to deny that the developments in the Red Sea are a direct projection of the violence in Gaza, where Israel’s brutal operation has continued for three months now. The situation also escalated in other occupied Palestinian territories and on the border between Israel and Lebanon. It is no secret that there is strong disappointment in the Middle East region over the fact that the United States (who has been covering up for Israel’s actions), holds the other UNSC members hostage and prevents adoption of a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire. Time after time using its veto power to do so, Washington has undermined all efforts to provide humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. The two SC products adopted during this time – resolutions 2712 and 2720 – remain essentially unimplemented. This causes anger in the Arab world, which sometimes takes dangerous forms such as the actions of Ansar Allah in the Red Sea. It is getting increasingly difficult for governments in the Middle East to control the sentiment among their populations, and it becomes nearly impossible when a non-state actor is involved.


We see two scenarios how the situation in the Red Sea can evolve. The first (favorable) is to redouble the Council’s efforts to resolve the long-standing conflict in Yemen and end the violence in the Gaza Strip. The causes of the current escalation would then be addressed and safe navigation in the region would resume. The second (catastrophic) scenario is “putting out the fire” of the crisis in the Red Sea by pouring gasoline onto it – that is essentially what the United States and its allies are calling on us to do. As we have seen lately, they only have forceful methods in their toolkits. In the second scenario, the entire Yemeni settlement risks being derailed. What’s more, this will create very realistic prerequisites for igniting a new major regional conflict around at least the Arabian Peninsula. The danger of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict escalating into a regional conflict has been mentioned many times. And the events in the Red Sea are not the first sign of that. Unfortunately, at this point the situation unfolds along the second scenario. Despite its high-profile name, the so-called “international maritime coalition” assembled by Washington is in fact largely made up of US warships, and the legitimacy of its actions in terms of international law raises the most serious doubts.

Therefore, our tasks today are not only to reiterate the collective signal to Ansar Allah about the inadmissibility of their actions that we approved on December 1, but also to cool down the “hotheads” in Washington, for whom another conflict in the Middle East is just a part of the geopolitical game.

Thank you.

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