Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Peace and Security in Ukraine

Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternative Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
September 8, 2023


Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, ASG Jenča, for your briefing. The United States and Albania called this meeting today because of the Russian Federation’s continued and flagrant violation of the UN Charter, through its assault on the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and violence against the Ukrainian people.

On August 31, Russia began holding sham elections in the areas of Ukraine it occupies – coinciding with annual regional elections being held throughout Russia. The Kremlin hopes these sham elections will demonstrate its control over these occupied territories, but they are nothing more than a propaganda stunt.

This is not a new tactic. These so-called “elections” in Russian occupied territories of Ukraine are taking place nearly one year after the Kremlin staged sham referenda, and purported to annex Ukraine’s Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts – and over nine years after Russia purported efforts to annex Crimea.

The Kremlin uses these sham referenda and elections to try to lend a semblance of legitimacy to its attempts to unlawfully annex the sovereign territory of its neighbors. The Kremlin is rushing to fabricate electoral successes to hide its military losses in Ukraine from the Russian people. The Kremlin knows full well its elections in Ukraine are a complete fraud.

But some within the Russian government are concerned about the perceived legitimacy and voter turnout for the elections in the occupied areas. The outcome will – of course – be predetermined and manipulated. In fact, from media reports, we understand that Russian authorities already have established field polling stations, where Russia’s armed forces began conducting early voting as of August 31 in frontline areas and elsewhere to manipulate and maximize the vote count. Essentially, Russia’s armed soldiers are providing so-called “security” to voters in an intimidating combination of bullets and ballots.

These sham elections in no way represent a legitimate expression of the will of the people of Ukraine, who have consistently resisted and bravely fought Russia’s efforts to change Ukraine’s borders by force for nearly 19 months. These Potemkin elections are an affront to the principles enshrined in the UN Charter. The Ukrainian people are fighting to expel Russia’s forces from their territory.

The vast majority of the world is united in support of Ukraine and the UN Charter. Last year, 143 countries voted in the General Assembly to condemn Russia’s purported annexation of Ukraine’s sovereign territory.

The United States will never recognize Russia’s claims to any of Ukraine’s territory. We condemn Russia’s continued occupation unequivocally, and we will continue to work with allies and partners to provide Ukraine with the military equipment it needs to defend itself.

We urge all UN Member States to refrain from actions that serve to lend credibility to Russia’s sham elections on Ukraine’s sovereign territory. We must all call out Russia’s egregious violations of international law for what they are: A stain on our collective history as a body founded on maintaining world peace, and an assault on our rules-based international order.

The overwhelming majority of this Council has said that international conflicts must be resolved through dialogue and diplomacy. We agree. And Ukraine’s democratically elected President Zelenskyy has put forth a plan for a just and lasting peace based on UN Charter principles.

But Russia has shown no interest in good faith dialogue to end the war. Just the opposite. Russia continues to wage its war of conquest, sending wave after wave of bombs and missiles into Ukraine, wreaking death and destruction on civilians and civilian infrastructure, with members of Russia’s forces and other Russian officials committing unconscionable war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other atrocities and abuses.

Ukraine’s fight is not only a fight for its own survival, but a fight in defense of the rules-based international order and its foundational principles. That is why it is imperative that we all stand unequivocally with Ukraine.

Thank you, Mr. President.