Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing Called by Russia on “Russophobia”

John Kelley
Political Counselor
New York, New York
March 14, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President.

We listened carefully to the briefers and want to thank Dr. Snyder for his thoughtful presentation today.

The United States welcomes serious discussions into the detrimental impacts of hate speech and harmful rhetoric. We regret that this meeting is a missed opportunity to do so. The Russian delegation called this meeting today by claiming, “Russophobia” is – and I quote – “one of the most gruesome and repulsing aspects of the Ukrainian crisis. Are we to take this statement seriously, as Russian missiles rain down on Ukrainian cities and kill civilians? As Russian forces have committed crimes against humanity, including the systematic rape, murder, and torture of civilians?

There is a better word for such a statement in English, which includes Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov’s claim at a G20 meeting earlier this month that this war was somehow launched against Russia, and not the other way around. That word is “gaslighting.”

Over the past year, the world has endured a parade of Russian excuses and absurd justifications for its war of choice against Ukraine. We have heard Russia claims that it is not the aggressor. That it is trying to stop a “genocide” in eastern Ukraine. That it must “de-Nazify” the Ukrainian government, and that it must fight against drug addicts and Satanists. No matter what today’s obfuscating excuse is, it cannot hide the fact that Russia is not the victim it pretends to be. The evidence is plain to see in Bakhmut, Kharkiv, Mariupol, Bucha and many other Ukrainian cities.

If the Russian delegation was serious about highlighting the most gruesome and repulsive aspects of its brutal invasion of a sovereign UN Member State, it should call a meeting to discuss the many war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other abuses committed by its forces. It should explain to this Council why its forces have deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians – including children – to Russia. It should explain why its forces have tortured civilians in detention through beatings, electrocution, and mock executions. And it should explain why its forces have raped civilians, and committed execution-style killings of Ukrainian men, women, and children.

Russia has tried a string of propaganda to try to justify its war to this Council over the past year, including some truly ridiculous conspiracy theories. Each excuse is intended to mask its true goal: to erase the sovereign, independent state of Ukraine from the map and violently subjugate its people. Putin has said as much, denying that Ukraine is a state and calling for the return of so-called “lost territories.”

Ukraine’s self-defense, is an appropriate and necessary reaction to Russia’s malign, destabilizing, dangerous invasion. It is a needed response to an illegal war of aggression that violates the UN Charter and has caused unspeakable suffering and abuses against the people of Ukraine.

This is not the first and will not be the last time Russia seeks to abuse its Council seat to spout disinformation and vitriol. Much like what happened at the G20 meeting earlier this month, it convinces no one. Each excuse will not hide the fact that Russia seeks to destroy its neighbor and fulfill its imperial expansionist ambitions.

The people of Ukraine, a sovereign, independent state that is part of this UN community, will continue its brave defense of its country. The United States will stand with them for as long as it takes.

Thank you Mr. President.