Remarks by Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield at a UN Security Council Briefing on Russia’s War Against Ukraine

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield
U.S. Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York

June 23, 2023



Thank you, Madam President. And thank you Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, for your briefing today.

Moments ago, I stood with Ukraine, France, the United Kingdom, and Albania to call out Russia and Iran’s flagrant violations of UN Security Council Resolution 2231. We know the Kremlin has procured hundreds of UAVs, and is now working with Iran to produce these weapons inside Russia. And we know that in recent weeks, the Kremlin has used these UAVs to destroy Ukrainian infrastructure and kill and terrorize civilians.

The United Nations must implement Security Council Resolution 2231. We still have no explanation as to why experts from the 2231 team have not been dispatched to Ukraine to review evidence of these weapons’ origins, and the destruction these weapons have caused. The UN must act with urgency. This is a matter of life or death for the Ukrainian people.

Russia’s cruel and relentless attacks have left millions of homes in Ukraine without light, without heat, without water. And recent strikes in Kherson have killed civilians, including aid workers delivering assistance to those fleeing flooding after the Kakhovka Dam’s destruction.

As we speak, Russia is blocking the UN from getting aid to people in the flooded areas. That’s unacceptable. Russia must immediately allow the UN to deliver desperately needed humanitarian assistance to occupied areas of Ukraine. Humanitarian workers must have safe passage as they deliver aid and assistance to those in need. Full stop.

Colleagues, Moscow publicly feigns deep concern about attacks on critical infrastructure, and they have called Security Council meetings to try to convince us of that. But Russia’s hypocrisy is on full display as we watch Russian missiles and drones reduce entire Ukrainian cities to rubble. And for what?

President Putin is hell-bent on beating a foreign country into submission. But the Ukrainian people will never, never give up their sovereignty, their democracy, their freedom. President Putin thought his forces would march into Ukraine with little to no resistance. But he was wrong. The Ukrainian people have demonstrated remarkable bravery and grit. President Putin thought he would face no consequences from the international community. Then, he hoped the international community would tire of his war and simply move on. But here, too, he was wrong.

More than 140 countries have repeatedly voted to condemn Russia’s war of choice. And more than 140 countries voted to support a comprehensive, just, and lasting peace in Ukraine based on UN principles. To that end, all efforts to broker peace must be rooted in the UN Charter’s most fundamental principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the inherent rights of self defense. All of us here would insist on the same if we were in Ukraine’s place. And of course, peace requires good-faith efforts from all parties.

Let’s not forget that on the very day President Zelenskyy presented his peace formula to the G20 last year, Russia unleashed missile strikes across Ukraine. And let’s not forget that Russia carried out an airstrike against Kyiv when the Secretary-General was visiting Ukraine last April. And just last week – as you heard – when a delegation of African leaders traveled to Kyiv in pursuit of peace, they were greeted by a barrage of Russian missiles.

So let’s not “both sides” this issue. Russia has demonstrated no meaningful interest in negotiating toward peace. There must be a sustained, unified, clarion call for President Putin to end his brutal war of aggression. Because the longer the war goes on, the more the Ukrainian people will suffer and the more the world will suffer. After all, the impacts of this war are now being felt around the world. Why? Because President Putin has used food as a weapon of war and, in doing so, has exacerbated global food insecurity.

For a long time, Russia blocked Ukrainian grain from leaving the Black Sea. Grains that helps feed so much of the world, especially in Africa and the Middle East. That’s what makes the Black Sea Grain Initiative such a critical arrangement, one that we must extend next month for the benefit of all. And that’s why it is deeply troubling that Russia is, once again, the only country threatening to withdraw from the initiative. As the new grain harvest begins in Ukraine and Russia, this arrangement becomes even more important. Colleagues, we must urge Russia to stay in the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

We must beam a bright light on Member States that violate Security Council resolutions, including through the timely investigation of violations. And we must continue to hold Russia accountable for its crimes against the Ukrainian people. And we must continue to call on Russia to silence its guns and embrace diplomacy.

Until it does so, the United States will continue to support Ukraine in its principled self defense against Russia’s savage attacks. Caving to Moscow’s aggression would endanger every single country – big and small, new and old. All of us. We must never let war become a viable path for redrawing international borders. We must uphold the UN Charter and international peace and security. And we must continue to stand in solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

Thank you, Madam President.