Ukraine

Russian Federation Announces ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine as Security Council Meets in Eleventh-Hour Effort to Avoid Full-Scale Conflict

SC/14803
23 FEBRUARY 2022
SECURITY COUNCIL
8974TH MEETING (NIGHT)

Russian Federation Announces ‘Special Military Operation’ in Ukraine as Security Council Meets in Eleventh-Hour Effort to Avoid Full-Scale Conflict

‘Give Peace a Chance’, Secretary-General Stresses as Political Affairs Chief Calls for Dialogue ‘Even at this Late Hour’

The Russian Federation must call off its “special military operation” and perceived declaration of war against Ukraine, members of the Security Council demanded tonight in a heated emergency meeting, condemning contraventions of international law and the United Nations Charter, and raising alarm about the dangers of an explosive regional conflict fomenting a global humanitarian crisis not seen since the Second World War.

Delegates gathering at the eleventh hour to exhort Moscow to pull back its troops from Ukraine’s Donbas region found their calls moot after Russian President Vladimir Putin, nearly an hour into the meeting, announced in a televised speech the start of an operation to “demilitarize” its neighbour.

In opening remarks, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, citing rumours of an imminent offensive, said he initially had not believed anything serious would happen. He admitted he had been wrong. “If indeed an operation is being prepared, I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart: President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine,” he urged. “Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died.”

Offering context, Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said Ukraine’s authorities had declared a nationwide state of emergency amid disturbing reports of heavy shelling across the contact line and repeated targeting of civilian infrastructure. With Moscow also reportedly shutting airspace to civilian aircraft near the border, Ukraine’s authorities were also citing a new large-scale cyberattack against State and financial institutions.

As President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine called for continued diplomacy, and President Putin saying he was ready for dialogue, she encouraged pursuit of those efforts, even at this late hour. “The people of Ukraine want peace,” she emphasized. “I am certain the people of Russia want peace. We must do everything in our power to ensure that peace prevails.”

In the ensuing debate, representatives from the two countries offered conflicting views of the events unfolding.

Ukraine’s delegate, who had called for the emergency meeting, addressed the representative of the Russian Federation to say that most of his prepared remarks had been rendered useless by 10 p.m. New York time, as “forty-eight minutes ago, your President declared war on Ukraine”. Requesting that the Secretary-General distribute legal United Nations memorandums from December 1991 — including a decision by the Council recommending that the Russian Federation be a Member State of the Organization — he asked his counterpart if he would state on record that Russian troops are not shelling Ukrainian cities.

“You have a smartphone, you can call [Sergey] Lavrov,” he said, referring to the Russian Foreign Minister. Absent that information, the Russian Federation must relinquish its presidency of the Security Council to a Member State respectful of the Charter. He had requested an emergency meeting to consider all necessary draft decisions to stop the conflict. “You declared the war,” he said. “It is the responsibility of this body to stop the war.”

In turn, the Russian Federation’s delegate expressed regret that calls to stop provocations against the Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics had gone unheeded, with Ukraine harbouring a delusion that it could achieve a military solution in Donbas with help from Western sponsors. He said the Special Monitoring Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) recorded almost 2,000 violations of the ceasefire regime, including nearly 1,500 explosions, with refugees flowing into the Russian Federation.

“The tragedy of Ukraine” started after the “illegitimate coup” in 2014, he explained, when the new Government brought guns and planes upon the Russian-speaking citizens in the country’s eastern region, rather than engaging in dialogue with them. Women, children and the elderly have hidden from Ukrainian shelling for eight years. The root of the crisis lies in Kyiv’s provocations against Donbas, which prompted the leaders of the two republics to turn to Moscow for military support, in accordance with bilateral cooperation agreements. He described this as a logical step, as well as a consequence, of Kyiv’s actions.

A number of delegates condemned reports of an active invasion unfolding even as the Council met to dissuade the Russian Federation from military action, with the United States representative stressing that it had “literally violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on live television before the world”. Moscow is closing airspace and moving forces into combat positions — a perilous moment. The United States is here tonight for one reason, she said: to ask the Russian Federation to return to its borders and send its troops and planes back to their barracks and hangars.

Citing “denial of service” attacks on Ukrainian banks attributed to Moscow, and soldiers already deployed to Ukraine’s occupied region, she pointed to the Russian Federation as the aggressor, bringing its people, the Ukrainian people and the world into a conflict that will produce untold human suffering. She said the United States will table a resolution on 24 February, pledging that “the world will hold Russia accountable”.

Indeed, “every development unfolding in the last 48 hours confirms to us — and to the whole world — that Russian worries have nothing to do with its security”, Albania’s delegate said. The issue is not a confrontation between the Russian Federation and the West, rather one between the Russian Federation “and international law and the United Nations Charter”. Calling the crisis “a dark hour” for the entire international community, he urged Moscow to reverse its illegal decisions and withdraw its military. Equating diplomacy with hope, he said: “it dies last”.

Other delegates agreed that there is still opportunity for a diplomatic solution to emerge.

The United Kingdom’s representative said that the Council is “here tonight to call on Russia to avert war”, as a full-scale conflict in a country of 44 million will drive casualties on both sides and devastating humanitarian consequences. While the world is calling for peace, “Russia is not listening”, she said. She raised the potential for the United Kingdom to ratchet up the already significant sanctions package targeting Russian oligarchs, banks and politicians supporting President Putin. “There is still time for restraint, de-escalation and reason — but that time is now.”

In similar stride, Kenya’s delegate called for calm and protection of civilians, joining calls for a diplomatic solution that envisions a viable security architecture for Europe, while remaining sensitive to the needs of other parties. He urged delegates to recall the ruins of war experienced by all those sitting around the Council table.

Also speaking were representatives of France, Ireland, India, United Arab Emirates, Norway, China, Brazil, Ghana, Gabon, Mexico and Germany.

The meeting began at 9:32 p.m. and ended at 11 p.m.

Briefings

ANTÓNIO GUTERRES, Secretary-General of the United Nations, reaffirmed what he had said earlier today in the General Assembly, citing a number of events and rumours of an offensive against Ukraine being imminent. Stating he had not believed anything serious would happen, he admitted he had been wrong — and would like to not again be wrong. “If indeed an operation is being prepared, I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart: President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine,” he urged. “Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died.”

ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said that earlier in the day, the so-called authorities of the Donetsk and Luhansk “peoples republics” requested military assistance from the Russian Federation. As well, Ukrainian authorities declared a nationwide state of emergency and announced other related defence and security measures, including the mobilization of reservists. She cited disturbing reports of heavy shelling across the contact line and civilian and military casualties, as well as repeated targeting of civilian infrastructure. With media reporting an ongoing large-scale military build-up and military columns moving towards Ukraine, she noted the Russian Federation has also reportedly shut airspace to civilian aircraft near the border with Ukraine. While the United Nations could not verify that information, if confirmed, it would greatly aggravate an already extremely dangerous situation. Ukraine’s authorities were also reporting a new large-scale cyberattack targeting several State and financial institutions.

Noting that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine earlier this evening called for continued diplomacy, and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin also spoke about his continued readiness to engage in dialogue, she encouraged those efforts, even at this late hour. Affirming that United Nations staff are on the ground to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine, she called on all parties to ensure the safety and security of those colleagues, and to respect international humanitarian law. While events in the coming hours and days cannot be predicted, she cited the unacceptably high cost — in human suffering and destruction — of an escalation. “The people of Ukraine want peace,” she emphasized. “I am certain the people of Russia want peace. We must do everything in our power to ensure that peace prevails.”

Statements

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the Russian Federation “has been saying one thing and doing its contrary”, noting that “every development unfolding in the last 48 hours confirms to us — and to the whole world — that Russian worries have nothing to do with its security”. Its anxieties are not linked to the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and this issue is not a confrontation between the Russian Federation and the West. “This is a confrontation between Russia and international law and the United Nations Charter,” he said, tenets it has chosen to ignore. “This is a dark hour, not only for Ukraine but for the entire international community,” he stressed. Calling on the Russian Federation to stop and reverse its illegal decisions, and to withdraw its military engagement, he equated diplomacy with hope. “It dies last,” he said. “But for it to work, it must be seized, not ignored.” If Moscow advances its plans, it will bear not only the consequences of the war but also the historical blame and shame of invading a neighbouring country. However, its responsibility — as a large country and permanent member of the Security Council — calls for it to help preserve peace and security, “not to torpedo it”.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States) said her country, along with its allies and partners, will continue to respond to the actions of the Russian Federation with clarity and conviction. Warning that a full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation into Ukraine is imminent, she said Moscow is currently closing airspace, moving troops into Donbas and forces into combat positions. This is a perilous moment, she affirmed, and the United States is here for one reason: to ask the Russian Federation to stop, return to its borders, send its troops and planes back to their barracks and hangars, and instead send its diplomats to the negotiating table. Last week, the United States informed the Council what it expected to see unfold. It said that Moscow would fabricate a pretext for an attack — and in fact, there have been numerous false flag events staged along the lines of contact in Donbas. The United States said that Moscow would theatrically convene emergency meetings at the highest level of Government. This was seen on 21 February, with a State televised meeting held by President Putin, an orchestrated moment when Moscow decided to recognize as “independent states” sovereign territory of Ukraine that has been controlled by Russian proxies since 2014.

“They literally violated Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on live television before the world,” she warned. Nobody could have predicted just how dangerous and inciting President Putin’s speech would be, as he argued that that the world should be taken back to a time of “empires and colonies”. The United States also had said that communications would be shut down. Last week, it attributed “denial of service attacks” on Ukrainian banks to Moscow, while just this morning, there was similar activity on government websites. There have been reports of destructive malware placed on computers and executed on some. After that, the United States warned that soldiers and bombs would arrive in Ukraine. And already, soldiers have been deployed to Ukraine’s occupied region. Not all parties are culpable. As such, calling on both sides to de-escalate is merely giving Moscow “a pass”, as it is the aggressor. The Russian Federation has brought its people, the Ukrainian people and the world to the brink of a conflict that will produce untold human suffering. Ukrainians are counting on the United Nations. She urged the Council not to let them down.

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom), noting that those gathered are “here tonight to call on Russia to avert war”, said that a full-scale conflict in a country of 44 million will bring immense suffering, casualties on both sides and devastating humanitarian consequences. She emphasized that, while the world is calling for peace, “Russia is not listening”. For its part, the United Kingdom will not compromise its commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, nor its support for peace, prosperity and democratic freedom for the people of Ukraine. The Russian Federation’s actions are an assault on the Charter of the United Nations, and the United Kingdom has announced a significant sanctions package targeting some of the Russian oligarchs, banks and politicians supporting President Putin. London will ratchet up these economic consequences should the Russian Federation continue its aggression. She went on to stress that “there is still time for restraint, de-escalation and reason — but that time is now”.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) warned that the Russian Federation is about to “provoke chaos in Ukraine and strike an unjustifiable blow to peace and security in the heart of Europe”. For several months, President Putin has patiently prepared the means for a major offensive against Ukraine. He has amassed soldiers and weapons at a level not seen since the Second World War. He incited violence through lies and disinformation. He even denied the legitimacy of the Ukrainian State, and attacked that country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, by recognizing the independence of portions of Ukraine’s territory. On the contrary, Ukraine has demonstrated admirable restraint and did not give in to violence despite Russian provocation. The leaders of Europe and the United States showed their unity and redoubled their efforts to propose a diplomatic outcome. President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany and many partners played their part, expressing their readiness to work with the Russian Federation to build a renewed security architecture for Europe. Moscow should follow the path of diplomacy, draw back its decision to recognize the separatist entities in eastern Ukraine and withdraw its soldiers. If Moscow chooses war, it will have to assume all responsibilities and pay the price, he warned.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland) said that as Council members gathered around the table, “we are staring into the abyss of a major conflict in Europe, a conflict that would have global implications”. She affirmed that the Council must stand up for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of every Member State of the United Nations. Stressing that the decision by the Russian Federation to recognize as independent entities the non-Government-controlled areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions “does not change those borders one iota”, she urged Moscow to reverse that decision immediately, as well as any further escalatory, unilateral actions which can only serve to deepen the crisis. Noting that the path for diplomacy is “perilously narrow”, she said a resort to military conquest — for one State to impose its will unilaterally against another — has absolutely no place in the twenty-first century. “There is still a choice to turn from the path of war to the path of diplomacy and peace,” she affirmed.

T.S. TIRUMURTI (India) expressed regret that international efforts to defuse tensions between Ukraine and the Russian Federation were not heeded. The situation is in danger of spiralling into a major crisis, he warned, voicing deep concern about the developments, which may well undermine peace and security in the region if not handled carefully. Calling for immediate de-escalation, he called on all parties to exert greater efforts to bridge divergent interests, underlining that the legitimate security interests of all parties should be fully considered. He reiterated that more than 20,000 Indian nationals, including students, are located in different parts of Ukraine, including around its border areas, noting that his country is facilitating the return of all Indian nationals, including students, as required.

MOHAMED ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates) affirmed the importance of engaging in dialogue at all levels to support opportunities for peace that are based in international law. Clarifying that the Minsk agreements constitute a basis for peace, he stressed the importance of adhering to international law and the Charter of the United Nations, particularly through settling disputes by peaceful means. Noting that there were obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian assistance even before the recent tensions, he said that any further escalation could worsen the humanitarian situation for a larger number of civilians. He called for a ceasefire and urged all parties not to obstruct access to aid or to civilians in conflict areas.

MONA JUUL (Norway) warned that the world is facing the dire prospects of a major war in Europe. Strongly condemning Moscow’s decision to send troops into the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, she called on the Russian Federation to reverse these decisions and to “immediately, completely and unconditionally” withdraw all military forces from the territory of Ukraine and the vicinity of its internationally recognized borders. Calling upon all parties to strictly respect the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to facilitate safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need in Ukraine, she urged the Russian Federation — as a party to the Minsk agreements and to the conflict — to fulfil its commitments, to abide by international law and to return to the path of diplomacy. “The Charter applies to all nations — including Russia,” she stressed.

ZHANG JUN (China), noting that the situation in Ukraine is at a “critical juncture”, called on all parties concerned to exercise restraint and avoid further escalation of tensions. The door to a peaceful solution “is not fully shut, nor should it be”, he said, noting that China has pointed out the complex historical context of this issue on many occasions, and its position on safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States has been consistent. He expressed hope that all parties will remain cool-headed and rational, resolve issues properly through negotiations and address each other’s legitimate security concerns, in line with the Charter principles. For its part, China will continue to promote peace talks “in its own ways”, he said, welcoming any efforts towards a diplomatic solution.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil) expressed concern about reports of troop movements into certain areas of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions. “The time is not for belligerent rhetoric nor military threats, but to engage truly in a diplomatic process,” he said. He called for the complete and unconditional withdrawal of all military forces, as an effective measure to prevent and remove threats to peace. Parties must abide by the Minsk agreements, above all its call for a comprehensive ceasefire, and grant access to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Monitoring Mission. Calling for rapid, safe, and unhindered humanitarian access, he noted that negotiations must be mindful of United Nations Charter principles, while taking into account the security concerns of all parts to the conflict, to create adequate conditions for an inclusive political dialogue. Brazil does not underestimate the complexity of the current situation, he said, but it insists on dialogue vital to achieving a lasting settlement to this conflict.

HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana), describing the unfolding developments as “troubling”, said the situation is a matter of concern not just for Ukraine and its neighbours but for all. Insecurity for one country is insecurity for all. Expressing regret over the Russian Federation’s decision to recognize non-Government-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine and send its troops there, he cited statements attributed to President Putin that Moscow is always open to diplomacy. Such claims must be backed by action of de-escalation on the ground. He also expressed concern over the hybrid warfare launched by the Russian Federation, with cyberattacks on critical infrastructure. He urged Moscow to reconsider its intention to move troops to eastern Ukraine, stressing that its troops do not meet the criteria for peacekeepers and underscoring Ghana’s recognition of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), expressed concern over the serious risks of the conflict enveloping the entire Donbas region, leading to significant loss of life and a refugee crisis. Calling for calm and protection of civilians and civilian objects from violations, he said there was still reason to believe in prospects for a diplomatic solution to the crisis — which will require a vision for a viable security architecture for Europe, protecting Ukraine and other States while remaining sensitive to the needs of other parties. The Council can prevent a catastrophe, he stated, as when considering recent wars pursued by choice in violation of the Charter, the security of all parties was undermined. The leaders who designed today’s multilateral system were humbled by the wars of a previous century, he said, urging all Member States to recall the ruins of war experienced by all those sitting around the Council table.

XAVIER BIANG (Gabon) said the Council is meeting this evening 48 hours after its latest meeting on the subject because the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine has been attacked. Men, women and children are caught in “murderous violence” in eastern Ukraine, leading to a mass exodus that imperils their safety. The spectre of a war hangs over an entire region and as such, Gabon fears an imminent invasion of Ukraine. All Charter provisions must be respected, he said, stressing that Moscow’s decision to recognize the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk sidelines the importance of the Minsk agreements. Gabon remains attached to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of every State, he added.

ALICIA GUADALUPE BUENROSTRO MASSIEU (Mexico) expressed regret that, despite widespread calls from the international community, tensions around Ukraine have increased and Council members are obliged to meet once again. She expressed support for the Secretary-General’s statements and called on parties to avail themselves of his good offices. Recalling that the Russian Federation made an emphatic declaration several days earlier that it would not invade Ukraine, she pointed out that commencing a special mission runs counter to this statement. Invasion would be an act of aggression, she stressed, stating that Mexico will not waver in its call for détente, diplomacy and dialogue as a diplomatic solution is the only means for backing away from the precipice of a war in Europe.

VASSILY NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said he will not repeat what he said in the General Assembly earlier today but expressed regret that calls to stop provocations against the Luhansk and Donetsk people’s republics were not heeded. Ukraine, actively armed by a host of States, is still harbouring a delusion that it can achieve a military solution in Donbas with help from Western sponsors. Otherwise, it is difficult to explain the significant intensification of shelling and acts of diversion on the territory of the two republics. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission recorded almost 2,000 violations of the ceasefire regime, including nearly 1,500 explosions. Donetsk and Luhansk residents remain sheltering in basements and refugees continue to flow into the Russian Federation. The nature of provocations by Ukraine’s armed forces has not changed. Western colleagues are repeating “a Ukrainian fairy tale” that people in Donbas are shelling themselves. In today’s General Assembly debate, Western colleagues did not find one word of compassion or condolences for the suffering of the people in Donbas, as if these 4 million people do not simply exist.

He explained that “the tragedy of Ukraine” started after the illegitimate coup in 2014, when the new Government, instead of engaging in dialogue with the Russian-speaking citizens of Ukraine, brought guns and planes upon them. The Russian leadership decided to recognize the republics to ensure peace and security. For Western countries, the people in Donbas are only pawns in a geopolitical game aimed at weakening the Russian Federation. “For us, these are women, children, the elderly who have been hiding from Ukrainian shelling and provocations for eight years,” he said. The root of the current crisis lies in the actions of Ukraine itself, which sabotaged its obligations under the Minsk Package of Measures. Last week, there was hope that Kyiv would rethink and carry out what it agreed to in 2015. But Ukraine was not ready for dialogue with the two republics or for steps to grant Donbas the special status provided for by the Minsk agreements. Instead, Ukrainian provocations against Donbas intensified, and the leaders of the two republics turned to Moscow with a request for military support, in accordance with bilateral cooperation agreements concluded simultaneously with their recognition. He described this as a logical step — as well as a consequence of actions taken by Ukraine’s regime. During the current meeting, President Putin announced a special military operation in Donbas. Details are yet to come, but the aim is to free people in that area from genocide conducted by Ukraine.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) said most of his prepared statement had been rendered useless by 10 p.m. New York time. Citing obligations under Article IV of the Charter of the United Nations and noting that the Russian Federation is no longer able to carry them out, he said the Russian ambassador had declared war on his country three minutes earlier. He requested that the Secretary-General distribute legal United Nations memorandums from December 1991, particularly 19 December, including a decision by the Council recommending that the Russian Federation be a Member State of the Organization. “It would be a miracle if the Secretariat is able to produce such decisions,” he said. “Forty-eight minutes ago, your President declared war on Ukraine,” he charged, asking if the representative could state on record that Russian troops do not shell Ukrainian cities. “You have a smartphone, you can call [Russian Foreign Minister Sergey] Lavrov,” he said. “We can pause.” Absent that information, he stated the Russian Federation must relinquish the responsibility of the presidency of the Security Council to a Member State respectful of the Charter. He requested an emergency meeting to consider all necessary draft decisions to stop the war. “You declared the war, it is the responsibility of this body to stop the war,” he asserted.

ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany) said the Security Council is meeting at the very moment the President of the Russian Federation is announcing a military operation on Ukraine. Two days ago, the Russian Federation’s decision to recognize the so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk was harshly rejected in this Council. Moscow has not listened and, it turns out, it was not prepared to listen. It has continued its massive military build-up and now its military is moving into Ukraine’s territory. By its actions, Moscow is violating the core principles of the Charter of the United Nations, she said, condemning the violation of Donetsk and Luhansk in the strongest possible terms. Calling on Moscow to terminate its military action and withdraw its troops, she said its aggression will come at an unprecedented price politically, economy and morally. Germany was ready for another meeting in the Normandy format with its partners and allies. Now is the time to speak up and defend the Charter of the United Nations against unilateral aggression, she stressed.

Ms. THOMAS GREENFIELD (United States), taking the floor for a second time, pointed out that her country predicted the Russian Federation’s false-flag attacks, misinformation and emergency meetings relating to Ukraine. “But one piece had not come to pass”, she said, spotlighting that — while the Council was meeting tonight — “it appears that President Putin ordered that last step […] at the exact time we were gathered in the Council seeking peace, Putin delivered a message of war”. Underscoring the gravity of this emergency and calling for Council action, she said that the United States will table a resolution on 24 February. She went on to stress that the United States and its allies will respond in a united, decisive manner and that “the world will hold Russia accountable”.

Ms. WOODWARD (United Kingdom), taking the floor a second time, said that “as we sat in this chamber urging Russia to step back, President Putin announced special military operations” on Ukraine’s territory, an unprovoked and unjustified action. It is a grave day for Ukraine and for the principles of the United Nations. The United Kingdom and its partners have been clear that there will be consequences for Moscow’s actions. She expressed full support for the United States’ call for a Security Council resolution, noting that the Council must do all it can to stop the war and uphold the United Nations Charter.

Mr. HOXHA (Albania), taking the floor a second time, said his country had feared the current crisis, citing explosions now reported in Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, as “the masks are down and the tanks are in”. Stating that the Russian Federation has decided to deny the existence of a country, he affirmed that Albania stands for peace, international law and anything else that mandates the aggressor will be responsible for its actions.

Mr. DE RIVIÈRE (France) expressed regret that when the Council is trying to prevent the worst of what could happen, members learned that President Putin announced the launch of special military operation in Donbas. The Russian Federation has chosen war, which France condemns in the strongest possible terms. The fact that such action was taken when the Council was meeting to prevent it shows Moscow’s disdain for the international order. France will join the initiative to table a resolution condemning the war launched by the Russian Federation, he said, calling on all to support the text. The Russian Federation should respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians, especially women and children and humanitarian personnel, he stressed.

Ms. BYRNE NASON (Ireland), taking the floor a second time, said that the members of the Council now see that the path forward has been closed by the announcement of military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine. This is something that Ireland roundly condemns. She said Ireland “stands with the people of Ukraine tonight and with every man, woman and child, who has seen this news, as we did, as we sat here in this chamber, and whose lives are at risk”. It is now time for the Council to stand up, assume its responsibility and speak up in the strongest possible terms against this act of aggression.

Mr. KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine), taking the floor a second time, urged the Russian Federation’s representative to relinquish his duties as Chair and call the Russian President and Minister for Foreign Affairs to stop the aggression. He also welcomed the decision by some Council members to meet as soon as possible to address this situation, adding that: “there is no purgatory for war criminals — they go straight to hell”.

Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation), taking the floor again, clarified that his country is not being aggressive against the people of Ukraine, but rather, “the junta in power in Kyiv”.

For information media. Not an official record.