Виступ делегації України на відкритих дебатах РБ ООН щодо війни в містах

Виступ делегації України на відкритих дебатах РБ ООН щодо війни в містах

Madame President,

Ukraine highly appreciates the initiative of the Norwegian Presidency to hold this important debate and expresses its gratitude to briefers for their presentations.

While Ukraine aligns itself with the EU statement and the statement made by Switzerland on behalf of the Group of Friends of the protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, I would like to make some comments in my national capacity.

The issue of war in cities has been extremely painful for my country. Just yesterday, Ukraine commemorated one of the most tragic pages in its modern history. On 24 January 2015, the Russian occupation forces shelled with Grad and Uragan rockets the densely populated areas of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. This heinous attack left 31 civilians, including children, killed and over 100 wounded. The then UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Feltman at the UN Security Council meeting labelled the attack as “knowingly targeted a civilian population” that constituted “a violation of international humanitarian law”.

It is just one example that since the very beginning of the Russian aggression, the residential areas of the Ukrainian cities in the conflict area have been an indispensable element of aggressor’s military plans. On the government-controlled part of Ukraine, they served as a target for shellings or terrorist attacks. On the occupied areas, they were used by the occupiers for deploying artillery weapons with local population thus serving as a “human shield”.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, at least 3900 civilians were killed and 7 – 9 thousand were wounded in Donbas. Almost 1.5 million had to leave their homes in the occupied areas of Ukraine as internally displaced persons.

One of the biggest losses caused by combat actions in urban areas is the damage to the civilian infrastructure. For instance, in Donbas this has often come as a result of non-compliance with the principle of distinction by the Russian occupation forces.

Frequent conflict-related damage to infrastructure leaves many people with no access to water, sanitation, electricity and fuel. Destruction and absence of repair, in particular in case of deliberate impediments, may result into serious environmental and epidemiological threats.

All these have been a sad reality for the residents of the occupied part of Donbas, especially during the initial stage of the Russian aggression, marked with the high level of violence on the ground.

The civilian population in the situation of conflict in urban areas is also extremely exposed to the flagrant violations of human rights. This is the case for the population of temporarily occupied territories in Donbas and Crimea.

Today, the topic of this debate sounds even more alarmingly relevant for Ukrainians living in the vicinity to the border with Russia and the administrative boundary line with temporarily occupied Crimea. Over one hundred thousand Russian troops are kept on the border with Ukraine against the backdrop of warmongering rhetoric, war threatening and unacceptable ultimatums by Russia.

Russian illegitimate claims strike at the core of our cooperation – the UN Charter and its principles, in particular those of sovereign equality of States and refraining from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.

The state questioning now international law and the rule-based order cynically attempts to present itself as a “victim” in need of “security guarantees”. I must say it would be a very perverted way to defend yourself by plunging your neighbour into bloodshed.

I reiterate that Ukraine has no intention to launch an assault on the occupied part of its sovereign territory, let alone the border areas of the Russian Federation. Ukraine sees no alternative to political and diplomatic solution of the conflict and will continue to seek any viable option to secure peace.

The starting point must begin with Russia deescalating the security situation on Ukraine’s borders and withdrawing from Donbas and Crimea.

The UN Security Council bears primary responsibility for maintenance of international peace and security and I encourage the Council to make full use of its mandate to avoid military confrontation. Although it is embarrassing to have the aggressor State among the addressees, I do believe in a committed approach by other members of the Council – an essential element of the credibility of this organ.

I thank you, madam President.