Ambassador Richard Mills
Deputy U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
December 9, 2022
Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, High Representative Nakamitsu, for your informative briefing this morning.
We all know that actions speak louder than words, but before we discuss Russia’s actions, let’s discuss Russia’s words here in the Council today. It continues to confound my delegation that we are all once again brought into this Council to devote our attention to Russia’s fictions. In the midst of, and in spite of, its war of aggression against its neighbor, Ukraine, Russia has wasted – wasted countless hours of the Council’s time on fictional dirty bombs in Ukraine, a claim debunked repeatedly by the IAEA inspectors; they wasted our time on fictional biological weapons, supposedly to be delivered to Ukraine’s near neighbors on the wings of birds and bats, claims rejected by this Council, and rejected by the States Parties to the Biological Weapons Convention. Russia uses these stories – these words – to try to distract us from its own aggression. For example, Russia claims that its forces are not committing atrocities, when there is a host of credible reports – reports from a broad range of sources that members of its forces have committed rape, torture, and summary executions in Ukraine.
Russia has not come here today to present us with any credible solutions, and these are not credible accusations. What we are seeing is – frustrated on the battlefield, Russia has resorted to destroying Ukraine’s critical and energy infrastructure from afar, causing immense suffering to civilians as we heard just three days ago, and defying the international community’s call to end its aggression. Despite all of this, Russia has the gall to demand today in the Council, that the international community watch from the sidelines as Moscow seeks the destruction of another UN Member State.
Western assistance to Ukraine in the face of Russia’s illegal, brutal invasion is not the problem here; it is Russia’s invasion itself. That is the one attribute common to all of Russia’s fictions, to all its words, to find any distraction, no matter how odious, no matter how transparently false, to try to shift our focus from the immense and needless suffering Russia has caused, and continues to cause, to the people of Ukraine.
It is Russia that has cynically called for this meeting alleging an illicit conspiracy of weapons transfers from Ukraine, when in fact, as others around this table have noted, it is Russia that is complicit in Iran’s illegal transfer of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to Russia in violation of Security Council resolution 2231, Annex B. Russia continues to use these Iranian UAVs in its war against Ukraine, in attacks against civilian infrastructure and cities, which have led to the deaths of civilians.
Let me be clear. We’ve seen no credible evidence of diversion of U.S. provided equipment. We’ve heard no credible evidence of diversion this afternoon in this Council. We would certainly review evidence to support these claims, whether it came from a head of state or an international law enforcement official, if it is produced.
We would do that because the United States takes very seriously our responsibility to protect our defense and dual-use technologies, and to prevent their diversion. At the same time, the United States is committed to continuing to support the people of Ukraine as they defend their country and their freedom. We are not hiding this support – as others have said, Ukraine has every right to defend itself, and we have every right to continue our longstanding support to its defense.
Though we have seen no credible evidence of Ukraine diverting U.S.-origin arms and munitions, we must all recognize an inherent risk of weapons capture and diversion on the battlefield in any armed conflict. We have always taken, and the United States continues to take, proactive steps to mitigate this risk.
What we have seen, is Western-origin systems captured by Russia, in Ukraine. Russia is in fact the only known vector of diversion. Russia has an incentive to spread disinformation about diversion, and, indeed, to actually divert U.S. weapons, in order to create a false narrative about our assistance that spuriously discredits Ukraine and seeks to weaken international support for Ukraine’s self-defense.
The Ukrainian Government has committed to appropriately safeguarding and accounting for transferred defense equipment. It is important that we remind ourselves that this equipment is vital to Ukraine’s defense, and so Ukraine has a strong incentive to protect it. We welcome the Ukrainian Government’s formation of a commission to strengthen the monitoring of donated military equipment just this summer.
We continue to work closely with our Ukrainian Government partners to ensure all assistance continues to be properly used and safeguarded as Ukraine defends its sovereignty and territorial integrity against Russia’s ongoing aggression.
Helping Ukraine keep and regain control of its sovereign territory is an important factor in limiting potential illicit diversion by Russia’s forces, Russia’s proxies, criminal groups, terrorist organizations, or other non-state actors.
Consistent with our commitment to the serious responsibility of safeguarding against diversion, in October the United States government published the “U.S. Plan to Counter Illicit Diversion of Certain Advanced Conventional Weapons in Eastern Europe” – this was a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach that also engages our allies and partners.
While this is a recent publication, it is not a new plan. We have been working to address the risk of diversion since well before last February, including in close cooperation with our Allies and key partners.
This plan has three main lines of effort: first, working with Ukraine’s authorities to monitor and control sensitive and dangerous arms; secondly, strengthening border controls inside and around Ukraine; and third, enhancing law enforcement capability in neighboring countries.
Madam President, while the Russian government is heavily invested in spreading disinformation to justify and distract the international community from Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine, we and our Allies remain firmly committed to supporting Ukraine as it defends its territorial integrity and civilian population against Russia’s aggression. And so we take these allegations of diversion of U.S.-origin weapons from Russia’s officials or pro-Kremlin sources with a healthy dose of skepticism.
I will conclude on the subject of diversion with a statement of fact: The most effective path toward reducing conflict and any risk of illicit diversion of arms would be for Russia to end the war that it started and withdraw its forces from all of Ukraine’s sovereign territory. This may begin to relieve Russia of its dependence on its many corrosive fictions.
I thank you Madam President.