Summary
Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine
Description

Peacebuilding Chief Notes Human, Material Tolls Brought on by Russian Federation

Despite positive progress in exporting grain and other food products from Ukraine’s ports, the people of that country and beyond urgently need peace, the Secretary-General of the United Nations told the Security Council today, as Council members took stock of the now six-month-old conflict on the thirty-first anniversary of Ukraine’s independence.

António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, briefed the Council on his recent visit to Ukraine where — due to the Black Sea Grain Initiative — dozens of ships have sailed in and out of Ukrainian ports loaded with over 720,000 metric tons of grains and other food products.  He recalled seeing wheat pouring into the holds of cargo ships and the United Nations flag flying over vessels bound for the Horn of Africa, emphasizing that the Initiative is a powerful demonstration of what can be achieved “when we put people first”.

Also spotlighting the other part of the deal — which allows Russian food and fertilizer unimpeded access to global markets — he called on all Governments and the private sector to cooperate to bring these goods to market.  There will not be enough food in 2023 if the fertilizer market is not stabilized in 2022, he stressed, also calling for a massive scaling-up of support to developing countries reeling from the global food crisis as the shipment of grain and other foodstuffs “won’t mean much if countries cannot afford them”.

He went on to express grave concern over the situation in and around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, underscoring that “the warning lights are flashing”.  The security of the plant must be ensured, and he urged that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) be allowed to conduct a mission to the site as soon as possible.  Noting the thirty-first anniversary of Ukraine’s independence, he underscored that “the people of Ukraine and beyond need peace, and they need peace now”.

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, next briefed the Council that there is no end in sight to the conflict triggered by the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine.  During the past 181 days, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 13,560 civilian casualties — 5,614 killed and 7,946 injured — and the actual numbers are considerably higher.  She further voiced concern over the situation facing prisoners of war on both sides, stressing that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) must have unimpeded, confidential access to all places of detention.

She also highlighted rising humanitarian needs, pointing out that at least 17.7 million people — 40 per cent of Ukraine’s population — require humanitarian assistance and protection.  She additionally noted the worldwide repercussions of the war in Ukraine, citing a July estimate by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that up to 71 million people may have already been pushed into poverty in the three months following the start of the invasion.  Stressing that the human and material toll of the war is tragic, colossal and evident — first and foremost for Ukraine and its people — she underscored:  “It must end”.

In the ensuing debate, many Council members expressed concern over the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, calling for the withdrawal of Russian troops from the site and urging that IAEA be allowed to evaluate conditions there.  While members also welcomed the positive development of resumed Ukrainian grain exports, some highlighted the continuing consequences for the world resulting from ongoing military hostilities in Ukraine.

Kenya’s representative, spotlighting multilateralism as the last hope against a new world war, stressed that Ukraine’s immediate fate is important to the world.  Unless the war is stopped through dialogue, it could be the first in a series of conflicts that historians term the “third world war”, he said, calling for intuitive, bold leadership from any and every country with influence to push the parties into dialogue.

The representative of Brazil, also urging the parties to keep channels for dialogue open, pointed out that both reality and history demonstrate that closing that door is not the right approach to resolving conflict.  It is in everyone’s best interests that the two countries are able to live side-by-side in the future, he added.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates similarly called on leaders from both sides to commit to charting a path forward, with the support of the international community.  The Charter of the United Nations provides many tools with which to end conflict, provided that the political will to use them exists.  In this vein, she welcomed agreements to facilitate the export of grain, food supplies and fertilizers to global markets, but stressed that this “rare example of tangible progress” cannot be the last.

On that point, the representative of the Russian Federation said that, while the Secretary-General’s “so-called ‘Black Sea Initiative’” is considered a sort of “success story”, only one of the 34 dry cargo ships went to Africa over four weeks of export operations.  The true cause of global food security issues is Western sanctions, he stressed, calling on all involved to take the “package” nature of the initiative seriously and resolve the financial and logistical problems that impede the export of Russian food and fertilizers to the global market.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, while noting that different parts of the world have different approaches and values, underscored that life, peace and economic prosperity have value everywhere in the world.  Calling for the Russian Federation to be held accountable for its crimes of aggression against Ukraine, he underscored that, if Moscow is not stopped now, then “all these Russian murderers will inevitably end up in other countries”.  “It is on the territory of Ukraine that the world’s future will be decided,” he said, adding that “our independence is your security”.

At the outset of the meeting, the representative of the Russian Federation requested a procedural vote concerning the President of Ukraine’s participation in today’s meeting by video teleconference.  Following statements by representatives of the Russian Federation and Albania, the Council extended an invitation to the President of Ukraine to participate in the meeting via video teleconference by a vote of 13 in favour to one against (Russian Federation), with one abstention (China).

Also speaking were representatives of the United States, Albania, France, Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom, Gabon, Ghana, India, Mexico and China, along with the European Union in its capacity as observer.

The meeting began at 10:06 a.m. and ended at 12:34 p.m.