States must apply effective arms-control measures to prevent the diversion of weapons supplied to Ukraine, a senior United Nations official told the Security Council today, as some Council members defended their decision to continue providing military support to Kyiv while others detailed the danger of doing so.
Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, said that the transfer of materiel to Ukraine by several States since the Russian Federation’s invasion on 24 February is a matter of public record. Information from Governments regarding transfers is largely accessible through open sources, she said, adding that there have also been widespread, independently verified reports of the transfer of conventional weapons to non-State armed groups involved in the conflict. The large-scale influx of weapons into any armed conflict raises many concerns for peace and security, including risks of diversion, potential spillover and escalation, she noted.
Measures to counter arms diversions will be key to post-conflict recovery, regional security and stability, and preventing conflict in other regions, she continued. The United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, along with the Arms Trade Treaty, remain key tools to enhance transparency and track the influx of weapons and ammunition in conflict zones. Encouraging Member States to follow these widely accepted approaches, she also urged them to apply effective arms-control measures. The only way to end the suffering and devastation in Ukraine is by ending the war, she emphasized, appealing to all Member States to “make every effort for peace”.
Daniel Kovalik, civil society organization representative, cited a report pointing out that the 2014 conflict in Ukraine led to the widespread proliferation of small arms, light weapons and ammunition, including to areas located far from the conflict zone. He also spotlighted several media articles that underscored the United States’ limited capacity to track and inspect the substantial supply of weaponry it has provided. “Who is watching the watchmen here?”, he wondered, noting that the United States will not provide international oversight over the billions in weapons it has sent to Ukraine. He urged the Council to live up to its responsibility and called for a negotiated end to the war.
In the ensuing debate, several Council members said that their countries will continue to support Ukraine’s exercise of its right to defend itself, pointing out that it is the Russian Federation that is driving the flow of weapons into Ukraine. Others, however, stressed the need to prevent weapons supplied to Ukraine from inadvertently falling into the wrong hands, encouraging dialogue over proliferation and underscoring the importance of effective arms control.
The Russian Federation’s representative said that his delegation requested today’s meeting to assess the impact of the ongoing influx of weapons into Ukraine on prospects for ending the conflict. Without Western assistance, military activities in Ukraine would have ended a long time ago, he said. Spotlighting the risk of weapons supplied to Ukraine falling into the hands of terrorists and criminals, he said that the situation is so out of control that weapons destined for Kyiv are turning up on the black market in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He urged a sober assessment of the risks arising from the uncontrolled pumping of weapons to the Ukrainian regime.
China’s representative recalled a statement from the High Representative in September about the risk of potential diversion of weapons, as well as a warning in June from the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) that weapons destined for Ukraine could end up on the black market or in the hands of criminals. Stressing that such situations have unfortunately materialized, he emphasized the need for a political solution to end the crisis, rather than a battlefield flooded with weapons which will prolong the conflict.
France’s representative, taking a different view, urged those present not to “confuse the attacker and the attacked”, adding that the Russian Federation bears sole responsibility for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine. France is providing support to Ukraine so that Kyiv can exercise its legitimate right to self-defence and independence. If Moscow wishes the transfers it denounces today to cease, it must end its military operations in Ukraine, he said.
Gabon’s representative urged the parties to stop both verbal and military escalation. “It is time to silence the weapons in Ukraine,” she said, as more weapons can only spell more death and destruction, and nobody can predict the destabilization and insecurity that might ensue with so many weapons circulating.
Ukraine’s representative stated that the Russian Federation is again trying to legitimize its flagrant violation of the Charter of the United Nations by using the Council as a platform to circulate propaganda. Thanking those who have supported Ukraine, including by supplying modern weapons, he said that the liberation of the Kharkiv, Kherson and Luhansk regions demonstrates that all weapons in Ukraine’s possession are serving their intended purpose. Detailing the Government’s systematic arms-control efforts, he said that his country will continue to demonstrate transparency and cooperate fully with international export-control regimes.
Also speaking were representatives of Norway, United Kingdom, Ghana, United Arab Emirates, Albania, Kenya, United States, Mexico, Brazil, Ireland and India.
The meeting began at 4:11 p.m. and ended at 6:04 p.m.