The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy told the Security Council, “although Russia is violating fundamental principles of the UN and the international legal order, it is still not held to account at the global level.”
Speaking to Security Council today (28 Jun) via a video link, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy said, “if in any other parts of the world, any organization acted just like Russia, who is killing Ukrainians, if a country killed any peaceful people that will definitely be recognized as terrorist, such organization becomes an enemy for all of humankind.”
President Zelenskyy urged the Council to take advantage of these levers, adding that “it is imperative to deprive Russian delegation of the opportunity to manipulate the UN. It is imperative to make it impossible for Russia to stay in the UN Security Council until it’s terrorism continues. It is imperative to establish tribunals for investigating everything that the Russian military have done against Ukrainians, and it is imperative to give the legal definition of the notion of State terrorism at the UN level.”
He reiterated, “all Russian action must receive legal assessment and global sanctions for the fact that Russia is disrupting international legal order.”
The chief of UN political affairs Rosemary DiCarlo also briefed the Council. She said that when she last briefed the Council on 5 April, it hardly seemed possible that the devastation being wrought on Ukraine and its people could get any worse.
She said that in the 10 weeks since, countless more Ukrainian civilians have been killed in indiscriminate attacks, cities and towns continue to be levelled, and much of the country’s arable land has been horribly disfigured by shelling, adding that the conflict, an open source of instability in Europe, shows no signs of abating.
She noted that eighteen civilians were reportedly killed and 59 injured when a shopping center was hit by what are reported to be Russian missiles.
DiCarlo said the final toll may be much higher, adding that this incident, which should be investigated, was the latest in a new wave of airstrikes and missile attacks in Kyiv, Chernihiv, Odesa, Mykolaiv, Kharkiv and other cities far from the frontlines, with many civilians killed or injured.
The UN chief of political affairs reiterated, “the cycle of death, destruction, dislocation, and disruption must stop. For the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and the entire world.”
As of 26 June, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights recorded 10,631 civilian casualties in the country: 4,731 killed and 5,900 injured. Most of the civilian casualties recorded were caused by explosive weapons with a wide impact area. Many of these weapons are inherently indiscriminate when used in populated areas and, therefore, result in increased civilian casualties and devastating humanitarian impacts.
DiCarlo said, “the work of the Commission of Inquiry, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court and other fact-finding efforts are essential for establishing accountability for the crimes and atrocities committed during this war.”
She reiterated, “this work must lead to justice. That is imperative for the people of Ukraine. It is also crucial if we hope to be able to prevent such violations in the future, wherever they threaten to occur.”
US Ambassador Richard Mills also briefed the Council. He said, “the international community must hold those who perpetrated and ordered these crimes to account.”
He reiterated, “justice must be served – justice must come for Russia’s military and political leadership, as well as for its military rank and file who commit war crimes or other atrocities,” adding that the United States supports all international investigations into these crimes, including those being conducted by the ICC, the UN and the OSCE.”
Russian Ambassador Dmitry Polyanskiy told the Council, “in reality, there was no strike on the shopping center. The Russian Armed Forces used precision weapons to strike hangers with Western weapons and munitions received from the United States and European countries in the area of the Kremenchuk.”
He added, “road machinery and plants, those weapons and ammunition were spread throughout the warehouse area for further shipments to Ukrainian troops and Donbass.”
Ambassador Polyanskiy continued, “In other words, in order to use those weapons, to shell residential areas of Donetsk, Luhansk and other cities. The strikes of the Russian Armed Forces allowed to prevent this collusion.”
The Russian Ambassador told his western colleagues, “I would like to once again emphasize that by supplying weapons, you only prolong the agony of the Ukrainian regime, which is prepared to sacrifice its own population.”
He continued, “the sooner you realize this, the sooner Ukrainian leadership will sit down at the negotiating table with a realistic position rather than slogans and phantom claims.”