Statement by Deputy Political Coordinator Tom Phipps at the UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine.

President, the United Kingdom deeply regrets any civilian deaths in conflict, wherever they happen and particularly where children are involved. We are committed to upholding international humanitarian law and we remind all parties to conflicts everywhere of their obligations.

We are also committed to upholding the UN Charter, and its principles of respect for sovereignty and the right to self-defence. Yesterday, we discussed Russian airstrikes on civilians in Ukraine. Today, Russia has called this meeting to discuss Ukrainian strikes in Russia.

Russia is attempting to draw equivalence, but let’s be absolutely clear: there are hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers in Ukraine. There is not a single Ukrainian soldier in Russia. The war in Ukraine is an invasion started by Russia – a fact that no amount of disinformation can obscure.

President, first Russia blamed Ukraine for these strikes. Then it tried to demand Czechia appear before the Council. Now the Russian ambassador is blaming the UK, the US and the EU.  

If Russia wants someone to blame for the deaths of Russians in this war, it should start with President Putin. President Putin is responsible for sending many thousands of Russian servicemen and women to their needless deaths.  

In 2022, President Putin claimed his invasion was to stop a supposed genocide in the Donbas. The International Court of Justice rejected this and ordered Russia immediately to end its invasion. 

Russia’s real objectives were revealed when it attempted the illegal annexation of further Ukrainian territory and the UN membership rejected this and repeatedly demanded Russia end its invasion and withdraw.

As we discussed yesterday, having failed to defeat Ukraine militarily, Russia has now turned to indiscriminate attacks on civilians. The death toll from this week’s attacks across Ukraine, the largest since the war started, continues to rise. Innocent children were among the casualties here too.  In total, over 10,000 civilians, including more than 560 children,  have been killed and over 18,500 have been injured in Ukraine since 24 February 2022.

President, Russia chose to start this war, Russia can choose to end this war; Ukraine did not start it and has the right to defend itself. This is why the UK reiterates that we stand resolutely with Ukraine and will continue to do so. So, we call once again on Russia to respect the UN Charter, to end this war and to withdraw its forces from Ukraine.

Published 30 December 2023