Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
November 8, 2023
Thank you, Mr. President, and let me first thank Assistant Secretary-General Jenča for his briefing.
Esteemed Colleagues, we again find ourselves in this chamber at Russia’s behest before the facts on the ground can be determined. But that does not seem to have prevented Russia from desperately attempting to point its finger at others in an effort to distract the international community from its own egregious actions. But no matter how hard it tries, Russia cannot escape from the fact that it bears the ultimate responsibility for the unfortunate and unnecessary loss of life as a result of its war of choice.
We support Ukraine taking necessary measures to defend itself from Russia’s war of aggression in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian law.
Civilians are protected under the law of war, and we continue to call for the protection of all civilians. We have been clear about the necessity of taking feasible precautions to avoid civilian harm. This is not just a legal imperative – but the moral imperative. Civilian deaths represent lost futures. These lost futures and tragic deaths could be avoided if Russia would heed the call by more than 140 Member States to withdraw its troops, respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, and end its unprovoked and unconscionable war of aggression.
Russia’s war against Ukraine has undermined international peace and security, from its nuclear saber-rattling and procurement of arms in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, to its relentless attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. It is Russia whose actions have left the world less safe and less secure.
We should be clear about what Russia is doing in Ukraine. Russia is purposefully attacking Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, and destroying the systems that provide heat and light to the civilian population during the coldest, darkest part of the year. Russia’s relentless barrage of missiles against Ukraine are intentionally hitting schools and hospitals.
Reports of sexual and gender-based violence, torture, and heinous war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to mount against Russia’s forces.
Russia decided to terminate its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative, despite the initiative’s success in shipping over 33 million metric tons of grain and foodstuffs around the world, including to some of the most food insecure regions of the globe, like the Horn of Africa, the Sahel, Yemen, and Afghanistan.
Russia’s brazen attempts to redraw borders by force in a vain attempt to return to its imperial past endanger every country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Once again, its nuclear saber-rattling is irresponsible and clearly demonstrates the threat Russia poses to international peace and security. It is trying to undermine the principles that have made us all more secure in the years since the UN’s inception.
Acquiescing to Russia’s demands as it tramples international law would have repercussions not only in Europe but around the world. Wars of aggression must never become a path for redrawing international borders.
Russia alone is responsible for prolonging this war and the resulting loss of life. We again call on Russia to end its war of aggression in violation of the UN Charter, and to withdraw its troops immediately.
Thank you, Mr. President.