Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Humanitarian Situation in Ukraine

Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis
Senior Advisor for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
October 21, 2022


Thank you, Mr. President, and thank you to Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo and Humanitarian Coordinator Brown, for your briefings.

Colleagues, Russia has shown again and again that it disregards the UN Charter and international law. We are in this Chamber today because of the mounting consequences and human toll of Russia’s unprovoked and unlawful invasion of its neighbor and fellow UN Member State.

As we just heard, there are 7.7 million Ukrainians living as refugees and over six million more displaced in Ukraine. That is nearly one-third of the population that cannot go home. Nearly half of the population needs humanitarian assistance. And as Ms. Brown explained, needs will exacerbate in the winter. And as needs increase, Russia’s forces hit civilian infrastructure and humanitarian convoys with renewed relentlessness, undermining the civilian population’s ability to survive cold winter temperatures. This includes a massive barrage against Ukraine’s cities on October 10, which the Secretary-General called “another unacceptable escalation” of the war.

As insecurity, broken supply chains, and mass displacement hamper health care across Ukraine, a UN partner reports some 500 attacks by Russia’s forces on health care personnel, facilities, and transportation between February 24 and September 7. As humanitarian organizations scale up efforts to reach recently re-taken areas, Russia’s retaliatory strikes and the prevalence of landmines pose safety risks to humanitarian personnel and other civilians.

The UN estimates $4.3 billion will be needed to provide Ukrainians with humanitarian aid. Since February, the United States has provided over $1.5 billion in assistance to this end. We urge countries to help the UN meet these goals as we continue to stand firmly behind the Ukrainian people.

From the beginning of its full-scale invasion, Russia has shown contempt for this Council. This continues with evidence that – since August and in violation of the UN Security Council Resolution 2231 – Iran has transferred Mohajer- and Shahed-series UAVs to Russia. These Iranian-origin UAVs have been subsequently used in multiple attacks against Ukraine, including the massive barrage on October 10, which hit civilians and civilian infrastructure. In addition to the easily identifiable remnants of these UAVs recovered in Ukraine, there is significant publicly available documentation, including photographs and video, of these UAVs being used against Ukraine.

The UN must investigate any violations of UN Security Council resolutions. And we must not allow Russia or others to impede or threaten the UN from carrying out its mandated responsibilities.

We take this opportunity to refute resolutely Russia’s false assertion that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to captured foreign volunteers. Russia’s obligations as a party to the Geneva Conventions and their First Additional Protocol apply to its detention and treatment of any individuals in the armed conflict. Members of Ukraine’s armed forces, including third-country national volunteers, must be treated as prisoners of war under the Geneva Conventions and afforded the treatment and protections commensurate with that status.

Finally, we cannot forget the spillover effects of this war, which have exacerbated global food insecurity. We must continue to champion the efforts of, and work to renew, the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Under this initiative, more than 300 ships with over seven million metric tons of grain and other food have left Ukraine’s ports. As the UN has pointed out, the initiative helps calm markets and limit food price inflation. In fact, the UN Food and Agriculture’s Food Price Index has fallen since its spike at the start of the war, and wheat prices are back at pre-war levels. We cannot tolerate any backsliding at the expense of the world’s hungry.

In conclusion, Mr. President, let me say to the countries on this Council that over the many months since the escalation of this conflict have never mentioned Russia, I would say this: If women matter, urge Russia to silence its guns. If children matter, ask Russia to withdraw its forces. If the UN Charter matters, call on Russia to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence. Vague calls for diplomacy only enable Russia as it commits further abuses.

We, in this chamber, charged with the protection of global peace and security, must continue to call for accountability and Russia’s immediate cessation of its illegal war of aggression against Ukraine.

Thank you, Mr. President.