A U.N. Security Council meeting Thursday on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine again pitted Russia’s ambassador against the United States and its allies on the council. Watch it here.
Below are the texts of statements by the U.S. and Russian ambassadors.
Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield at a U.N. Security Council Meeting on the Humanitarian Crisis Caused by Russia’s War Against Ukraine
Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you to the briefers for your briefing today.
Just three weeks ago, Russia launched its unprovoked, unjustified, unconscionable full-scale invasion into Ukraine and assault on democracy. Now, over three million refugees have fled the country, creating a devastating humanitarian crisis felt around the world. These refugees are mostly women and children. They stuffed their lives into backpacks and left their homes and everything they knew behind. Today, many of them know that their apartment buildings and streets have been bombed to rubble. And the horrors continue for those who remain in Ukraine.
We just heard from the WHO DG that 43 hospitals have been attacked by Russia – 43 hospitals and health facilities. AP reporters on the ground showed the world a mass grave in Mariupol – a narrow trench filled with the bodies of children. Yesterday, Russian forces dropped a powerful bomb that hit a Mariupol theater where hundreds of civilians were hiding. The Russian word for “children” was written outside the theater, both front and back, in large white letters that could have been seen from the sky. Yet Russian forces bombed it anyway. Local officials have told families to leave their dead relatives lying outside on the streets – exposed to the world – because it is simply too dangerous with the bombs and shellings to hold funerals.
I just met with Ukrainian civil society leaders. They reported that people standing in a bread line, trying to get food to feed their families, were shot dead by Russian soldiers. They reported terror – the terror that Russia is inflicting across Ukraine on the Ukrainian people.
Russia will be held accountable for its atrocities. There is only one way – one way – to end this madness.
President Putin: Stop the killing. Withdraw your forces. Leave Ukraine once and for all.
Yesterday, I listened to President Zelenskyy’s speech to the United States Congress. And I was so moved by his words, his bravery, and his calls for help and for peace. Immediately afterward, President Biden announced another $800 million in security assistance to help Ukraine defend itself. That’s more than $1 billion in the past week alone. We’re not doing this by ourselves. Our allies and partners are fully committed to surging assistance to the Ukrainians. And we are grateful to all of our allies and partners who have opened their borders and their hearts and welcomed Ukrainian refugees.
We are also going to continue to provide humanitarian relief to support people within Ukraine and those who have been forced to flee – including the $186 million in additional assistance that Secretary Blinken announced on Tuesday. Here at the United Nations, we believe the best way to address the humanitarian crisis is through a resolution in the U.N. General Assembly. The resolution in the General Assembly will reflect the views of the overwhelming majority of U.N. Member States and Ukraine itself.
The International Court of Justice issued a profound and important order yesterday to the Russian Federation, and we call on Russia to comply immediately. Russia has clearly violated international law by violating the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russia’s brutal tactics have killed civilians, medics, and some of the journalists who have been showing us all the truth of this war. Russia has attacked so much of what we hold sacred and everything – everything – the United Nations stands for. Russia’s actions must be condemned in no uncertain terms.
As President Biden said, Ukraine will never be a victory for Putin. No matter what advances he makes, no matter whom he kills or what cities he destroys, Ukraine will never be a victory for him. The United States stands with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people, and we will do everything – everything – in our power to end this tragic unnecessary war.
Statement by Russian Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at U.N. Security Council Briefing on the Humanitarian Situation in Ukraine
We listened carefully to the briefers. We share the expressed U.N. concerns over the humanitarian crisis that unfolds in several regions of Ukraine. Our colleagues in the Council also justly point at this crisis. But the difference is that assessments of some (mostly Western) states, apart from the situation with refugees, are based on the disinformation campaign that has been fueled ever since Russia started its special military operation in Ukraine (SMO) and that keeps progressing now. Today we heard our Western colleagues articulate a variety of such allegations. Those accusations against Russia have already become proverbial – shelling of the maternity hospital in Mariupol, bombings of the Mariupol theatre, preventing refugees from exiting, bombardments of the Sultan Suleiman Mosque in Mariupol, shooting of a line of people in Chernigov from automatic arms. All those fakes were repeatedly debunked.
To my American colleague who made a reference to WHO Director-General who allegedly said that Russia had bombarded 33 hospitals I must respond that Director-General never said such thing, you can ask him. As far as we know, WHO does not do the attribution determining who launched strikes on medical facilities. Speaking of attribution, and of who should be considered guilty of ruining medical facilities in Ukraine, we have many questions in this regard. We will get back to it.
The information about shooting of a line in Chernigov was already refuted, as there are no Russian military in Chernigov. Most likely, this is another consequence of uncontrolled distribution of firearms to whoever wants to in Ukraine. Over this time, apart from other armament types, 25,000 items of automatic weapons were distributed.
As far as the mosque in Mariupol, President of its foundation denied reports that Russian forces had bombarded the Turkish mosque with 80 civilians inside. So I am not sure who is going to make it to the Guinness Book of Cynicism, but what I know for sure is who will make it to the Guinness Book of World Fakes for citing a record number of fakes during one UNSC meeting.
The situation in Mariupol and around it has come to symbolize the work of this “factory of fakes” that is running to its full capacity. For those who do not know, let me explain why this city is special. During the events of 2014-2015, when Ukrainian military sent planes and tanks to deal with the population of eastern Ukraine who did not welcome the new authorities, Mariupol was one of the centers of resistance in the DPR. Its people almost unanimously supported the independence of the republic at the referendum, and spoke out actively against the nationalist Kiev regime. Ukrainian nationalists did not forgive that. Having drowned the city in blood, they in fact turned it into a headquarters and a stronghold of voluntary Nazi battalions, first of all “Azov” and the “Right Sector”. The airport of Mariupol was where the notorious torture chambers were located, with all corresponding attributes in place: ditched bodies of those tortured to death, confinement cells and chainsaws. This is not the Middle Ages, this is neo-Nazism.
That is why Ukrainian radicals cling to this city. Firstly, it holds abundant evidence of their crimes, and secondly, they realize they will have to be accountable for that. That is why they are ready to drive to grave almost entire population of Mariupol. They are doing what Nazis did in besieged Berlin in 1945 – keep civilians as a human shield, not letting them evacuate and placing heavy weapons next to residential buildings in violation of the international humanitarian law.
Regrettably, neither our Western partners nor representatives of the U.N. Secretariat would notice that. The truth, however, is hard to hide. In this regard, we note statement by the ICRC that highlights such facts.
In this situation, it is little surprising that Mariupol is almost a leader in terms of the number and sophistication of fakes, producing which is Kiev’s main business now. I will cite three most shocking examples.
First one is the maternity hospital in Mariupol, allegedly hit by a Russian missile. I will not elaborate now, because we already spoke of that. We communicated relevant information on that matter in a letter addressed to the U.N. Secretary-General. We can hardly find a sound explanation why our colleagues preferred to not notice our in-advance warning that the maternity hospital had been turned into a gun post of Ukrainian nationalists; incontestable evidence that the photo shoot, organized there in best traditions of the “White Helmets”, was staged; and opinions of respectful experts in ballistics who said that the building had not been air-struck, but affected by an on-land explosion.
The second fake was mentioned today by our Western colleagues. Russia allegedly struck Mariupol’s drama theatre where more than a thousand civilians were taking shelter. In reality, on 13 March private individuals published information obtained from the people of Mariupol who had been lucky enough to break away from the city. According to this data, “Azov” was holding a large number of people in the building and plotting a deadly provocation. It is no coincidence and no surprise that there was the word ‘children’. Russian Armed Forces were aware of the situation. And anyway, they had never considered the theatre building as a target for an air strike. However the fact that Western journalists happened to be on the spot of the provocation, reporting energetically on the developments, becomes a tragic feature that characterizes provocations taking place in to cover up for lawlessness of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and nationalist battalions.
Now that Western propaganda machine is promulgating through global media a tragic photo of a man who lost his wife after a “Tochka-U” cluster attack on Donetsk city center by Ukrainian Armed Forces and presenting it as a scene from Kiev, it is hard to call you to be objective. None of you, and no Western media outlet uttered a word about the tragedy in Donetsk that claimed more than 20 lives.
Now the third fake. Russia allegedly tries to evacuate people from Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities to Russian territory, that is why only humanitarian corridors to Ukraine should be opened. This is blatant lies. Since the SMO started, the hotlines of our Ministry of Defense received over 2.5 million such requests for evacuation to Russia. Unfortunately, we cannot evacuate all, because Ukrainian authorities prevent people from exiting. However over past 24 hours, 31,000 civilians (including 89 foreigners, among whom 71 OSCE personnel, 9 citizens of Greece, and 9 of Pakistan) were safely evacuated from the long-suffering Mariupol that had been unblocked by the Russian forces. Only 36 persons out of 31,000 exited to Kiev-controlled territories of the Dnipro region. All the rest chose to go to Russia and settlements of the Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, controlled by Russian forces. They refused point blanc to move to Kiev-controlled areas. The entire humanitarian operation was carried out by the forces of Russia and the DPR, without any participation of the Ukrainian side. Let me stress that today there was a 10-kilometer long traffic jam from Mariupol towards Berdyansk and Melitopol that had been liberated from Ukrainian Nazis. Before Russian forces entered the city, we had not seen such thing, and that is not a surprise, because Nazis, as I said, had needed civilians as a shield. Those who managed to escape from Mariupol, speak of mass outrage and crimes of territorial defense battalions, victimization of elderly people, women, and children. All those people are receiving individual medical and psychological support.
The situation on other directions varies. Yesterday we fully observed a ceasefire on humanitarian corridors at the Kiev, Zaporozhye, Zhitomir, Sumy, Kharkov, and Poltava tracks, that we previously proposed to the Ukrainian side. The ceasefire was repeatedly confirmed through methods of objective monitoring, i.a. with the help of UAVs. Neo-Nazis did not let anyone out through the corridors leading to Russia, threatening them with physical intimidation, and ruthlessly shooting those who had managed to break through. Yesterday another bus convoy with refugees got under a bombardment near Kharkov. The vehicles were moving along a humanitarian corridor towards Russia. Four people were killed, some were wounded.
Despite all difficulties and impediments, over past 24 hours we have been able to evacuate 12,440 people from the risk zones, including 2,242 children. All in all, since the SMO started, the total of 271,231 people, including 58,422 children, and 31,000 personal vehicles have crossed the border of Russia. We are ready to receive more people. There are more than 9,500 temporary accommodation facilities that keep functioning in Russia.
We create all necessary conditions on the liberated territories to ensure unimpeded access to humanitarian assistance for all. In some locations, this aid is the only opportunity to survive. Meanwhile, mayors of Ukrainian cities resell medications, clothing, and food they receive from international organizations, in particular from the ICRC, to local entrepreneurs. Such facts are reliably established in the cities: Zhytomyr, Ivano-Frankovsk, Vinnytsa, Rovno, Lutsk, Dubno, Vladimir-Volynsky and Lvov.
6,910 citizens from 22 foreign countries remain hostages of militants of the territorial defense battalions, as well as crews of 70 foreign vessels that are blocked in Ukrainian seaports due to the high mine threat posed by the Kiev authorities in its internal waters and territorial sea, and due to possible provocations by the Ukrainian Armed Forces from the coast.
We keep delivering humanitarian assistance to people in Ukraine who need it.
A total of 450 tons of medicines, basic necessities and food have been handed over to the population of Mariupol.
Since March 2, the EMERCOM and Defense Ministry of Russia have already delivered almost 3,000 tons of humanitarian cargo and construction supplies to certain regions of Ukraine and Donbas. Another thing is that in some cases, local administrations threaten to crack down on those who receive Russian humanitarian aid.
Against this backdrop, news is coming in daily from Western capitals to report new batches of various weapons delivered to Kiev. Yesterday Washington announced that this week it would transfer to Ukraine 1 billion USD-worth of defense assistance. You only add fuel to this conflict. We can see already what tragedy the uncontrolled distribution of small arms led to. Are Western electorate and taxpayers aware of risks of these armaments, including air-defense launchers, falling in the hands of terrorist groups in Europe? In general, do you realize the implications of this fueling of the situation in Ukraine for your own security? Everyone read the news about an explosive-laden drone that landed in Croatia after it had been launched from Ukraine. By the way, it flew unnoticed, even though it had to cross airspace of several states. By the way, it is a more than 700-kilometer distance from Ukraine’s westernmost point to Zagreb.
We regret to say that Ukraine both used to be and remains a pawn in our Western colleagues’ geopolitical struggle against Russia. All those years, Western politicians did not care for the people of Donbas, including women, children, and elderly, who suffered and died under Ukrainian shelling.
Had it not been the case, we would not be confronted with this dirty hassle around UNSC draft humanitarian resolution on Ukraine. Once France and Mexico worked on the text, it ceased to be humanitarian and acquired numerous political provisions that have nothing to do with humanitarian aspects. They made it clear that Western states do not need a text without that language. They seek to have an anti-Russian document, To achieve this, they are ready to move it to the General Assembly from the Security Council while ignoring the fact that such draft will make no difference for the humanitarians.
That is why Russia put forward another draft resolution, which contains everything that humanitarians need. What it does not have is political assessments. None of UNSC humanitarian resolutions has them. The document is open for co-sponsorship for all U.N. members. We are told however that Russian humanitarian resolution does not satisfy the West. This approach betrays the real goals of the sponsors of the initial allegedly humanitarian draft. This is what you call real hypocrisy and cynicism.
Let me speak of one more manifestation of cynicism. Colleagues from various delegations contact us complaining of enormous pressure and “arm-twisting” that they are subjected to by the Western partners, who even resort to economic blackmail and threats. The United States and Albania circulated a letter where they call on U.N. membership to not co-sponsor our resolution. We realize that this pressure is hard to withstand. That is why we have decided to not request a vote on our draft resolution at this point. However we do not withdraw it. Instead, we have requested an emergency session of the Council tomorrow morning to discuss again the issue of American biolabs in Ukraine taking into account new documents that we have discovered during the special military operation. We will send a letter to the UAE Presidency on this matter immediately.
Remarks to the Press by Russian Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia Following UNSC Meeting on the Humanitarian Situation in Ukraine
Vassily Nebenzia: We had another meeting on the “humanitarian” situation in Ukraine. That was another exercise in anti-Russian rhetoric, which we have had last couple of week. I will not comment on the statements made. You’ve heard that and you heard our statement.
To a large extent, there was again an exercise in fakes. We noticed that today the Ukrainian Ambassador chose another tactics. He started to accuse us of what we accused the Ukrainians of. I do not engage in personal exchanges with him, but when he asked about the eyes of children killed, I would also like to ask him whether he had any remorse when he thought about the children of Donetsk that were killed by Ukrainian forces.
I will not dwell on who is more humane. That’s not the point of my coming to you. I wanted to tell you what you heard at the end of my statement. Due to extreme hypocrisy and cynicism of our partners, who are advocating for immediate solution of difficult, somewhere dire humanitarian situation in Ukraine, they refused to discuss our draft. Our draft resolution was basically just based on their draft, but it was made humanitarian instead of political. But they just demonstrated that they didn’t need a humanitarian resolution by the Security Council. As I said at the stakeout when we first announced our draft, they needed another resolution to blame and shame Russia.
That testifies to their real aims, and that’s why they chose to go to the General Assembly. They are working tirelessly on the membership, we know that for sure, to make them vote in favor of that resolution, which will not be strictly humanitarian and which will not have an effect that the Security resolution would have. Just like they worked on the Security Council members to defeat and kill our resolution. So we decided not to go forward with our draft at this stage. We are not withdrawing it. We keep it in blue, but for the time being we will postpone voting on it.
Q: During your speech, you talked about pressure on countries. Can you be more explicit? Can you tell us that there is some pressure on China for example?
A: I’m sure there is pressure on all countries, like it was before the voting on the resolution in the General Assembly. I received calls from many Ambassadors. I will quote one in particular. An Ambassador told me that he would vote “yes” because he got instructions from his capital, despite that they wanted to abstain. He said we could not even imagine what kind of pressure and blackmail was exerted upon them by Western countries, in particular the United States. That’s not a secret. They were working on that. Many delegations that were prepared to abstain on 2 March, received last-minute instructions to vote in favor. That is the result of the pressure. Same tactics is used here.
Q: I have colleagues who are out in Ukraine, who have seen with their own eyes the atrocities being committed by Russia in Ukraine. You’ve been in the United States the whole time. Who’s more likely to know what exactly is going on?
A: What kind of atrocities are you referring to?
Q: I’m talking about narrow trenches in Mariupol with babies’ bodies in. I’m talking about theaters in Mariupol being bombed by Russia.
A: The theater in Mariupol was not bombed by Russia. I spoke about it, and you may refer to my statement. I do not know anything about the trenches with killed babies. I haven’t seen it, but I’ve seen so many fakes. We have disinformation war, which is raging on a much greater scale than what is on the battlefield. I will not be surprised at anything because who wins the information war wins the war.
Q: We often hear Russia as a permanent member saying that there needs to be a diplomatic solution. You tell this to other countries countless times. Why here will you not call for a ceasefire, stop the offensive and negotiate with Ukraine?
A: We are negotiating with Ukraine.
Q: Why not stop the fighting?
A: Because we came there with goals announced. We want to demilitarize Ukraine, to denazify it, and to make Ukraine a neutral state which is not threatening Russia. Negotiations are going on.
Q: What evidence are you going to bring tomorrow on chemical and biological weapons?
A: We have additional new information on that, and I think it deserves being discussed in the Security Council. That’s not a joke, that’s not Russian propaganda. More people in the West, including U.S. and UK, are asking questions on that military bioprograms that the U.S. was conducting in Ukraine, and not just in Ukraine. That also applies to many U.S.-sponsored laboratories around the world.
Remarks by Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield in Response to Russia at a U.N. Security Council Meeting on the Humanitarian Crisis Caused by Russia’s War Against Ukraine
Thank you very much.
I was momentarily pleased to hear that the Russians were pulling down the vote on their farcical humanitarian resolution which was doomed to fail. We know if Russia really truly cared about humanitarian crises, the one that it created, it could simply stop its attacks on the people of Ukraine. But instead, they want to call for another Security Council meeting to use this Council as a venue for its disinformation and for promoting its propaganda.
Let us not forget that Russia is the aggressor here. They are the ones that are creating a pretext for attacks on their own people, and we can’t be fooled by their efforts here. They have troops inside of Ukraine. They are killing people inside of Ukraine. That is the reason for us being here today, not to deal with their propaganda.