Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine - Security Council, 9080th meeting
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Maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine - Security Council, 9080th meeting.

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Delegates Condemn Attack on Kremenchuk Shopping Mall, Civilian Infrastructure

The President of Ukraine today called on the Security Council to immediately compel the Russian Federation from killing children and other civilians in his country, urging the adoption of a legal definition of “State terrorism”.

Addressing the Council via videoconference, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that although the United Nations does not have a legal definition for the term “terror State”, the war waged by Moscow displays the need to enshrine it legally and punish any such State.  Citing events of the last 3 of the 125 days of aggression, he noted that on 25 June, 62 missiles hit Ukrainian cities, and on 26 June, one rocket hit a residential building in Kyiv, while another exploded in the yard of a kindergarten.

He underscored a 27 June strike on a shopping mall in Kremenchuk, where, he said, Russian forces must have known they were hitting a civilian target.  The United Nations should send a Special Representative of the Secretary-General, or an evidentiary commission to independently confirm the identify of those responsible.  Although the Charter of the United Nations states that any member that violates its principles may be expelled, the Russian Federation is still not held to account.  That country does not have the right to discuss and vote on the war in Ukraine, he stressed, urging Member States to strip it of its powers.

Moreover, the Charter allows for an international tribunal to investigate the Russian Federation’s actions on Ukrainian soil.  The word genocide has repeatedly been used, he stressed, pointing to the events in Bucha and Mariupol — a city of 500,000 residents, now in ruins.  He called on Council members to commemorate the tens of thousands of Ukrainians killed with a minute of silence.

Briefing the Council, Rosemary DiCarlo, the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the depravity of the situation in Ukraine has only increased in the 10 weeks since she last briefed the Council.  Recalling that the shopping centre in Kremenchuk was hit by what are reported to be Russian missiles, she said that 18 civilians were reportedly killed and another 59 injured, voicing concern that it was only the latest in a fresh wave of air strikes and missile attacks in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and other cities far from the frontlines.

“Civilians continue to pay too high a price in this war,” she underscored, reporting that as of 26 June, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had recorded more than 10,000 civilian casualties in Ukraine.  The Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine, which recently concluded its first mission to the country, received information and visited sites that “may support claims that serious violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law, perhaps reaching war crimes and crimes against humanity, have been committed”, she added.

Given that at least 16 million people are currently in need of humanitarian assistance and protection services, a flash appeal, which runs through August, is being revised to cover needs through the end of 2022.  Ukraine is suffering the largest human displacement crisis in the world today, with some 12 million people forced from their homes since the start of the conflict, she stressed, urging partners not to neglect the country’s long-term recovery and rebuilding needs.

In the ensuing discussion, many Council members called on the Russian Federation to end the war, condemning the strike on the Kremenchuk shopping centre, while the Russian Federation challenged the truthfulness of those accounts, arguing that they are fake.

The representative of the United States said that although the Russian Federation is expected to avoid responsibility for the tragedy, no one will be fooled.  There is ample public evidence available to show that Moscow alone is responsible, and their attacks constitute war crimes.  Pointing to the bombing of schools and hospitals, the killing of civilians waiting in line for water, and forced executions, he expressed support for all international investigations into those war crimes.

Mexico’s representative similarly voiced support for the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in his investigations into possible war crimes committed in Ukraine.  Mediation and dialogue are urgently needed for a total ceasefire, he emphasized, adding it must be a priority of the Council.  He also stressed that mechanisms are needed to mobilize grains, fertilizers and other commodities, which are being blocked from export and worsening the precarious food situation in other parts of the world.

Ghana’s representative, citing the conflict’s snowball effect on developing countries, said that, although the present situation casts a grim outlook, the international community must not lose hope of finding peace.  Ongoing diplomatic efforts must be given an opportunity to succeed, she stressed, advocating for the urgent creation of demilitarized humanitarian corridors in all besieged areas, in compliance with international law.

The representative of the United Arab Emirates called for addressing humanitarian challenges and prioritizing an immediate cessation of hostilities.  Encouraged by ongoing efforts aimed at allowing ships safe passage to and from key seaports, she stressed that the Security Council must do everything within its power to support those negotiations.

The representative of the Russian Federation expressed concern about President Zelenskyy’s participation in the meeting, stressing that no consultations were held with all Council members on that matter.  Referring to various glaring inconsistencies in media accounts, he said that there was no strike on the shopping centre in Kremenchuk, adding that a video posted by Ukrainian bloggers shows that the goods inside the shopping centre were not affected by the blast.

“We have not carried out any strikes against civilian peaceful targets, nor have we ever done so,” he said, urging Member States to refer to eyewitness accounts and the opinions of military experts.  On the other hand, the Kyiv regime is deliberately storing weapons in the very centre of cities, next to residential areas.  His country began its special military operation to stop Ukraine’s shelling of Donbas and so that its nationalist leadership ceases to pose a threat to his country or to the inhabitants of the south and south- east of Ukraine.  “Until those goals are achieved, our operation will continue,” he said.

China’s representative, stressing that dialogue is the only viable way to end hostilities, voiced support for direct negotiations between the Russian Federation and Ukraine.  Sending weapons cannot bring about peace, nor can sanctions solve the security conundrum, he said, adding that attempts to weaponize the world economy and pressure countries into taking sides will only divide the international community.  Moreover, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) must abandon its cold war mentality based on bloc confrontation.

Also speaking today were representatives of Albania, France, Brazil, United Kingdom, Ireland, Kenya, India, Gabon, Norway, Estonia (also on behalf of Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland.

The meeting began at 3:04 p.m. and ended at 5:05 p.m.