Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
September 8, 2022
Thank you Mr. President, and thank you, Under-Secretary-General Nakamitsu for your briefing today, especially with less than a day’s notice by the Russian Federation.
I’d like to begin by joining others in expressing our deepest condolences to the Royal Family and to the people of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Commonwealth of Nations on the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Queen lived an extraordinary life dedicated to service. Her legacy will loom large in the pages of British history and in the story of our world.
Colleagues, before I go further, I think it’s important that we’re clear what this meeting today is about. This meeting is a transparent attempt to distract from the meeting yesterday on the forced displacement of Ukrainian citizens, where the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights clearly stated it had reports of torture in conjunction with Russia’s abhorrent use of “filtration” camps.
Moving on, to address what we just heard from the Russian delegation, I would ask delegates to assess what we just heard in light of this fact. Earlier this year we warned of Russia’s premeditated intention to invade Ukraine, including an unprecedented build-up of military forces along Russia’s and Belarus’s border with Ukraine. We recall the Russian delegation’s fervent insistence in this very chamber and in a series of tweets and social media postings that its massive mobilization was only a routine military exercise; it had no plans to invade Ukraine. I think that says enough.
And now Russia has the gall to blame other countries for refusing to step aside as it seeks to destroy another UN Member State, in violation of the Charter and international law. Like the United Kingdom, the United States is proud to stand with Ukraine and our allies and our partners from more than 50 countries in providing vital security assistance to support Ukraine’s defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russian aggression.
The United States is committed to supporting the people of Ukraine as they defend their lives, their liberty, and their democracy. We are not hiding this support. Ukraine and all UN Member States have every right to defend themselves. And we will not stop our support to Ukraine just because Russia is frustrated that its attempt at regime change has not gone to plan.
Mr. President, later this month, leaders from around the world here will gather to reaffirm their commitment to the UN Charter and its foundational principles. It bears repeating: All countries have the inherent right of self-defense, consistent with Article 51 of the UN Charter. This is a simple, straightforward principle. Every member of the United Nations has a right to its sovereignty and its territorial integrity.
I encourage all members of this Council to consider this question: If you were in Ukraine’s shoes, how would you respond if a bigger neighbor invaded you? If your neighbor sent its armies into your cities, your lands – what would you do? What would you ask of the international community?
None of us here would simply let our country’s history and identity be attacked, our cities shelled to rubble, our people killed, our territory taken. We would appeal for international support in the face of such naked aggression.
Russia’s claims that the United States and the “West” is escalating and prolonging this conflict are false. They are cynical attempts to deflect attention from Moscow’s role as the sole aggressor in what is unnecessary and brutal war, for which the world is paying a collective price.
Let me be clear – the United States is not using force against Russia. President Biden has been clear – the United States does not seek a war between the United States and Russia. But we will not fail to condemn President Putin’s choice to launch and pursue this invasion of Ukraine.
Speaking of scrounging for weapons, as my Russian colleague did, even now, Moscow is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from the DPRK for use on the battlefield in Ukraine, which, as Ambassador Woodward said, would be a clear and unequivocal violation of Security Council resolutions.
Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine started, the United States, Ukraine, and our partners and allies engaged in intense diplomacy, seeking every avenue to defuse conflict and find ways to address our mutual concerns about security in Europe and beyond. Russia did not take this path.
And now Ukraine is responding to this invasion as any of us would – by defending itself. We salute the Armed Forces of Ukraine and all Ukrainian citizens who continue to inspire the world with tremendous skill and profound courage.
We have provided security assistance to allow Ukraine to fight off its invaders and restore its control over its sovereign territory. We are not just helping Ukraine defend itself – we are also helping Ukraine deal with the consequences of this awful war. The United States has also provided nearly $1.9 billion in humanitarian assistance in Ukraine and in the region since Russia first invaded Ukraine eight years ago. We have channeled a total of $8.5 billion in budget support to Ukraine through World Bank mechanisms.
We are also making sure any assistance to Ukraine’s defense is responsible and limits unintended consequences. We take very seriously our responsibility to prevent the diversion or illicit proliferation of weapons, and we are working with Ukraine to ensure accountability of assistance, even amidst the challenging circumstances of war.
The Ukrainian Government has shown it takes this responsibility seriously, as well. We welcome the Ukrainian government’s recent announcement of its formation of a new commission to strengthen the monitoring of donated military equipment.
In conclusion, Mr. President, let me say it again – war is not the answer. This conflict – Russia’s atrocities, its filtration and forced displacement, the streams of refugees and displaced persons – must end. But this will only happen when Russia decides to respect and comply with the UN Charter.