The Perfect Enemy | New Deal to Resume Grain Exports through Ukrainian Ports ‘Beacon of Hope’ for Easing Global Food Crisis, United Nations Political Affairs Chief Tells Security Council
August 10, 2022

New Deal to Resume Grain Exports through Ukrainian Ports ‘Beacon of Hope’ for Easing Global Food Crisis, United Nations Political Affairs Chief Tells Security Council

New Deal to Resume Grain Exports through Ukrainian Ports ‘Beacon of Hope’ for Easing Global Food Crisis, United Nations Political Affairs Chief Tells Security Council – World  ReliefWeb

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9104TH MEETING (AM)

While the newly signed deal to resume grain exports through Ukrainian ports offers a “beacon of hope” for countries in increasingly desperate need, close coordination among the parties involved will be critical to its success, the United Nations political affairs chief stressed today, as delegates in the Security Council both welcomed its potential for staving off famine and condemned the strike on the port of Odesa less than 24 hours later that threw that likelihood into jeopardy.

“The grain agreement is a sign that dialogue between the parties is possible in the search to ease human suffering,” said Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, as she urged the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Türkiye to work in partnership. Along with the understanding between the Russian Federation and the United Nations on promoting access of Russian food products and fertilizers to world markets, the 22 July accord will help bridge the global food supply gap and reduce high prices.

The timing could not be more urgent, she said. The war, now in its fifth month, shows no sign of ending. Since 28 June, the number of civilians killed, wounded or maimed by fighting has grown, while deadly missile, air and artillery attacks by Russian armed forces continue unabated, reducing many Ukrainian cities and towns to rubble. As of 27 July, the High Commissioner for Human Rights had recorded 12,272 civilian casualties in Ukraine — 1,641 new victims since her last briefing, she said.

To alleviate suffering, the humanitarian community has reached 11 million people with aid, she said. She underscored the commitment of the United Nations to Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence within its internationally recognized borders.

In the ensuing debate, delegates — including from Albania and the United Kingdom — expressed deep concern that the Russian Federation is aiming to “wipe Ukraine off the map”, ignoring calls to stop its aggression, and instead, forcing mass population transfers and weaponizing grain as way to leverage its interests. The United States’ representative accused Moscow of “setting the United Nations Charter on fire”, annexing territory and installing illegitimate proxies in Russian-controlled areas, with the goal of holding sham referenda. Latvia’s delegate, speaking for the Baltic countries, urged the Council to show that international norms — including the Charter — are not “empty statements that can be trampled on by dictators and bullies”.

In turn, the Russian Federation’s delegate retorted that its armed forces have fully liberated areas in Ukraine, including Luhansk. The Internet is filled with video clips of people coming out into the street with ribbons and Russian flags, yet Western colleagues are not taking note of these changes. Further, Moscow was prepared to resolve issues around Ukrainian grain and Russian fertilizer exports in April, however they sought to sabotage the “package nature” of the agreement.

Ukraine’s delegate, meanwhile, pointed to video footage of Russian forces torturing and killing a Ukrainian prisoner of war. He likened the Russian foreign minister’s claims that the “geographical objectives” of the so-called special operation had been expanded to “the base wish of a thief” trying to keep possession of what had been stolen. He thanked the United Nations Secretary-General for his unequivocal condemnation of the Odesa port attack, as his clear assessment made futile all Russian attempts to create artificial caveats.

Armed with recommendations, Kenya’s delegate said the conflict in Ukraine, like the COVID-19 pandemic, has proved that distributed food production, particularly in Africa and the developing world, is a key safety net. If the great Powers want to make their case to Africa, “they should start by partnering with us” to deliver fertilizer independence and gains in its agricultural productivity institutions.

India’s representative similarly underscored the importance of equity, affordability and accessibility when it comes to food grains, stressing that “open markets must not become an argument to perpetuate inequity.”

Also speaking today were representatives of the United Arab Emirates, France, China, Ghana, Norway, Mexico, Ireland, Gabon, Brazil, Slovakia, Germany, Poland, Italy and Romania, as well as a representative of the European Union, speaking in observer capacity.

The meeting began at 10:07 a.m. and ended at 12:55 p.m.

Briefing

ROSEMARY DICARLO, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, said the war triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, now over five months old, shows no signs of ending. However, the agreement signed on 22 July in Istanbul to facilitate the safe transport of grain and foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports of Odesa, Chernomorsk and Yuzhny offers a “beacon of hope” for humanity. Along with the understanding between the Russian Federation and the United Nations Secretariat on promoting access of Russian food products and fertilizers to world markets, it will help bridge the global food supply gap and reduce high prices.

“The grain agreement is a sign that dialogue between the parties is possible in the search to ease human suffering,” Ms. DiCarlo said, stressing that the United Nations is doing its utmost to support the parties, starting with the inauguration of the Joint Coordination Centre two days ago. Avoiding incidents, such as recent strikes on Odesa, and creating enabling conditions will be vital for the initiative to succeed. It is, therefore, imperative that the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Türkiye work in partnership to implement the accord.

Since her last briefing on 28 June, she said the number of civilians killed, wounded or maimed by fighting has grown, while deadly missile, air and artillery attacks by Russian armed forces continue unabated, reducing many Ukrainian cities and towns to rubble. The streets of Kharkiv, Dnipro and Mykolaiv have been repeatedly targeted, while the port city of Odesa and surrounding region have suffered multiple attacks. Kropyvnystkyi, the capital of the Kirovohrad region, was reportedly struck on 28 July, as was Liutizh just north of Kyiv. Cities in the Donbas, including Donetsk and Bakhmut, are also reported to be under fire, with heavy fighting now also anticipated in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions.

At the same time, reported attempts to introduce local governing bodies in Russian-controlled areas are raising serious concerns, she continued. As the conflict enters a more protracted phase, attention is increasingly turning to its longer-term humanitarian, recovery, reconstruction and socioeconomic impact. “Regrettably, political dialogue has virtually ground to a halt,” she said. As of 27 July, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had recorded 12,272 civilian casualties in Ukraine — 5,237 killed and 7,035 injured — representing at least 1,641 new civilian casualties since her last briefing. The figures are based on verified incidents; the actual numbers are considerably higher.

She said the High Commissioner, along with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), continue to document destruction of civilian housing, educational and health care facilities, as well as places of worship. “Indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure are a clear violation of international humanitarian and human rights law,” she stressed, reiterating the urgent call to all parties to respect the rules of distinction, proportionality and precaution, and to avoid the use of heavy weapons in populated areas.

To alleviate suffering, she said that as of 20 July, the humanitarian aid has reached 11 million people. Nine million people have received food and livelihood assistance, and more than 4.5 million have benefitted from protection services. Over 4.2 million people have also been able to access safe water and proper sanitation, while nearly 2.3 million people have received cash assistance. Despite difficulties in reaching people in the non-Government-controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, humanitarian partners have provided aid for 125,000 people and to over 30 health, education, and social institutions in the area. As of 19 July, 5,984,263 refugees from Ukraine were recorded across Europe.

Turning to the specific impact of the war on women and girls, she said women-headed households in Ukraine are twice as likely to experience food insecurity as those headed by men. Women’s access to health services, including sexual and reproductive health, is rapidly deteriorating, as is access to new-born and child health. Incidents of gender-based violence, including allegations of sexual violence in conflict have increased, but services for survivors are not provided in full.

The impact of the war is “glaringly clear”, she said, and its consequences will only become more pronounced the longer it lasts. She expressed deep concern over the lack of prospects for a meaningful resumption of diplomatic efforts. She underscored the commitment of the United Nations to Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence within its internationally recognized borders. She drew attention to the death of a four-year-old girl in Vinnytsia who had been strolling through the park with her mother before missile fire from the Black Sea killed her and 19 other people, stressing that this incident — and many others — “will stand as the ultimate indictment of the utter senselessness and brutality of this war.”

Statements

FERIT HOXHA (Albania) said the Russian Federation’s attack is a blatant violation of the Charter of the United Nations and international law. The Russian Federation is aiming to wipe Ukraine off the map and is ignoring calls to stop its attack. It claims that there is no war, despite the death of 12,000 civilians and the destruction of infrastructure. There is no legal ground or moral reasons for this unprovoked war of aggression, he stressed. The Russian Federation has introduced its own currency. It is using the same playbook as in the Crimea, he said, adding that any purported annexation is illegitimate. He expressed concern about forced population transfers, observing that more than 1.4 million Ukrainian children have been transferred into the Russian Federation, which is a war crime. The Russian Federation must stop its war and withdraw its troops from internationally recognized borders. The country has weaponized grain as it has weaponized natural gas, he said, adding that the war has threatened European security and is testing Europe’s resolve. The news of the grain deal bought a sense of relief, but then the Russian Federation made a cynical attack on the port of Odesa. He expressed hope the grain deal would go through, stressing that the situation in the country is the most serious test of the rules-based international order.

LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD (United States), describing the United Nations Charter as the Organization’s most sacred document, said: “It is a commitment that we have all freely signed as members of these United Nations. It is the embodiment of our ideas.” The Russian Federation, however, has effectively set the Charter on fire. Since its invasion, the world has seen its flagrant violations of international law and disregard for the United Nations founding document. The International Court of Justice ordered it to immediately suspend its operations, while the General Assembly has adopted resolutions, with overwhelming support, condemning its aggression, demanding an end to the invasion and suspending the Russian Federation from the Human Rights Council. Rather than feel ashamed, the Russian Federation has publicly expanded its war aims, seeking to dismantle Ukraine as a geopolitical entity and erase it from the world map. It is working to annex more territory by installing illegitimate proxies in Russian-controlled areas and aiming to hold sham referenda. The Russian foreign minister even stated that this is a war aim. Moscow is reviewing plans to annex Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, and both Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. “The acquisition of territory by force is as clear a violation of the Charter as you can get,” she insisted. “We cannot, will not, stand by and let it happen in silence.” While the Secretary-General and Türkiye facilitated progress on grain exports, the world saw the Russian Federation’s true character later when it bombed the port of Odesa. The Russian Federation should allow grain and food to leave Odesa unharmed to feed a hungry world.

Members of the Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, she said, stressing that those who perpetrated and ordered them must be held accountable. For those stating that one country’s security should not come at the expense of others, “what do you call Russia’s armed invasion of its neighbour?” she asked. The Russian Federation’s actions are the sole obstacle to resolving this crisis. Atrocities continue to mount, amid credible reports of bombings of schools and hospitals, the killing of aid workers and journalists, and execution-style murder of civilians going about their business in Bucha. There is evidence Russian forces have interrogated and deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens, including children, tearing them from their homes and sending them to remote locations in the east. As of May, in one location in a Russian-controlled area of Ukraine, 20,000 people were in line for filtration, with some Ukrainians waiting up to three weeks to be processed. Reports indicate that filtration centre employees and those awaiting filtration were selling places in line. The United States also has information that officials from the Russian Federation’s presidential administration are overseeing these operations using advanced technologies — including for the purpose of collecting data on those undergoing filtration. The Russian Federation is forcibly replacing people’s passports and attempting to impose its own identity over that of Ukrainian citizens, in blatant disregard of the principle of national sovereignty. In the chamber, “every member here has borne witness to the atrocities,” she said. The Council has a duty to defend the Charter “that we have all pledged to support”.

MOHAMED ISSA ABUSHAHAB (United Arab Emirates), stressing the protection of civilians remains paramount, spotlighted numerous examples of the Russian Federation’s destruction of Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, often with heavy reported civilian casualties in past weeks. Reports note that this trend will escalate, he added, stressing that all parties must heed their obligations under international humanitarian law. He welcomed the deal agreed in Istanbul on exports of grain, foodstuffs and fertilizers, praising the invaluable role of the Secretary-General and the Republic of Türkiye. However, he voiced his disappointment that the Security Council could not unify behind an endorsement of the deal. Positive developments in this conflict have been exceedingly rare, making it all the more critical that the Council respond with a single voice when progress does happen. Noting that the agreement is a step in the right direction, he also stressed that the measure of its success will be its full implementation. This crisis has put the United Nations and its Charter under strain. While the prospects of meaningful Council action on Ukraine appear limited, it remains crucial that Member States defend the Charter principles and seize every opportunity to bring about a peaceful resolution. Upholding the Charter also means ensuring that the Council continue its work to fulfil its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, in Ukraine, and on every file on the Council agenda.

NICOLAS DE RIVIÈRE (France) said the conflict is entering its sixth month and the Russian Federation is continuing its devastating attacks on cities and focusing on Eastern Ukraine. The Russian Federation is responsible for this premediated aggression against a sovereign state, which is a violation of the Charter. The Russian Federation is legally bound to suspend its military operations, he said, adding that its attacks violate the principles of international law. It is substituting Russian names for Ukrainian names, changing Ukraine’s currency and school programmes — clear signs of the Russian Federation’s intentions. The Russian Federation is responsible for the global food crisis. The progress reached in Istanbul on 22 July was a first step towards relieving the crisis, he said, thanking the Secretary-General and Türkiye for their key role in negotiations. Stressing that the commitments reached during the meeting must be met, he said ships must sail on the Black Sea so grains can reach those who need food. Yet days after the agreement was reached, the Russian Federation attacked the port of Odesa. He said France supports Ukraine through all means — military, financial and humanitarian. He called for an immediate end to hostilities and for the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

GENG SHUANG (China) welcomed that last week in Istanbul the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Türkiye and the United Nations signed an agreement on shipping grain, and that the Russian Federation and United Nations also agreed on the export of food and fertilizers. A joint coordination centre also has been established. The two agreements demonstrate there is still room for parties to resolve problems through constructive engagement. As grain shipping is complex, he urged parties to strengthen communication and coordination, and the international community to view the signing of the accords from a humanitarian perspective and create conditions conducive for follow-up. China has taken an impartial approach since the violence broke out in February. It has called for a ceasefire, advocated for a cooling off period, put forward a six-point initiative to ease the humanitarian crisis and made efforts to mitigate the spillover effects. It is working to stabilize both trade and the world economic order. China’s position is clear and will stand the test of history, he assured, as it has always maintained that sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries must be respected, and the Charter upheld.

He said placing one’s own security above that of others and attempting to strengthen military blocs will only lead to conflict. It is extremely irresponsible to “cling to a cold war mentality”, politicize and weaponize trade exchanges and deliberately create confrontation, he said, cautioning against allowing the crisis to kick off a new cold war. Stressing that the Charter is irreplicable in its role and unshakable in its status, he said compliance should be consistent. While one country repeatedly emphasized the principle of sovereignty in Ukraine, it has meanwhile challenged the sovereignty of China over Taiwan and deliberately created tensions in the Taiwan Straits. This is an infringement of the Charter. China has always respected the sovereignty of other countries and hopes others will do the same. Emphasizing that China is resolute in its will to safeguard sovereignty, he said no one should underestimate the determination or ability of the 1.4 billion Chinese to defend their sovereignty. He expressed hope that the country would “see this clearly and not play with fire”.

HAROLD ADLAI AGYEMAN (Ghana) deplored the persisting inability of the Council to support the parties to engage in substantial discussions about urgent ceasefire and peace initiatives despite the Charter obligation on the Council to shoulder the primary responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. The current situation affects the Council’s reputation and undermines its credibility as an effective arbiter in other conflict theatres. He noted the landmark agreement signed in Istanbul, the Memorandum of Understanding between the Russian Federation and the United Nations on promoting the access of Russian food products and fertilizers to world markets, and the inauguration of the Joint Coordination Centre. However, he also highlighted that the war’s mental impact, especially on children, is likely to have devastating consequences for several years to come. Therefore, humanitarian efforts should not only focus on the physical needs of the affected civilians but also on their psychological needs and emotional health, as the war would result in long-lasting psychological trauma. The protection and safety of civilians should drive all efforts to facilitate a peaceful settlement of the conflict. “As a Council, we have an urgent and collective responsibility to invest in the peace of Ukraine,” he emphasized and for all parties to avoid actions that only serve to perpetuate a needless war.

RAVINDRA RAGUTTAHALLI (India) said that since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, his country has consistently called for immediate cessation of hostilities and an end to the violence, urging both sides to return to diplomacy and dialogue. “Our Prime Minister has spoken to the Presidents of Ukraine and Russia on multiple occasions,” he explained, underscoring the importance of equity, affordability and accessibility when it comes to food grains. “Open markets must not become an argument to perpetuate inequity.” India has exported more than 1.8 million tons of wheat to countries in need, including to Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan and Yemen in the last three months, and continues to help Sri Lanka. Noting that India is working to increase fertilizer production, he called for keeping global supply chains functioning smoothly, as well as ensuring stability in global fuel supplies, commensurate with demand. With that, he reiterated the importance of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence when providing humanitarian assistance.

MEENA ASIYA SYED (Norway), describing the Russian Federation’s attacks against Ukrainian civilians and civilian areas, said that country’s callous disregard for human life continues to shock the international community, including reports of torture and war crimes being committed. There has been some hope amongst the bleak outlook, including the initiative on the safe transportation of grain and foodstuffs from Ukrainian ports, which is essential to ease global food insecurity and build trust between the parties. But it must be implemented, she underscored, adding that the entire world was shocked and outraged by the Russian missile attack against the Ukrainian port of Odesa the very next day after signing the initiative. She demanded that there be an immediate cessation of hostilities by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the full and immediate withdrawal of the Russian forces and military equipment from Ukraine’s internationally recognized borders and territorial waters. In May, the Council expressed its unified support for the Secretary-General’s efforts in the search for a peaceful solution. These endeavours are more important than ever, as the accumulated effects of the war are being felt by the people of Ukraine and beyond, she said, voicing support for all sincere efforts towards political dialogue, negotiations, and mediation.

JUAN RAMÓN DE LA FUENTE RAMÍREZ (Mexico) said over the last five months the Council has heard various interpretations of a confused narrative that does not justify the war in Ukraine. The Russian Federation’s attack is a flagrant violation of and a glaring affront to the Charter. The country is repeatedly violating international law, including humanitarian law. Its continued attacks on commercial and residential areas are deplorable. Several thousand people have already died, according to verified figures, but the actual death toll is surely much higher. Parties must take all necessary precautions to protect civilians and infrastructure, he said, stressing that shelters must be built, access for humanitarian organizations must be provided and weapons should not be used in densely populated areas. There are 16 million people with humanitarian needs of various kinds, and the agreement reached on 22 July was a commitment to meet these needs. He reiterated support for the Secretary-General to seek new ways to achieve progress. He regretted that the Council could not welcome the Black Sea agreement as a first concrete measure to respond to the global food crisis, which looms as a threat over many areas of the planet, and that Odesa came under attack a few hours after the agreement was reached. The agreement is in force and beginning to be implemented. The safe passage of grain towards world markets is a lifesaver for millions of people, who risk falling into famine very easily.

BARBARA WOODWARD (United Kingdom) welcomed the 22 July accord to export grain trapped by Russian Federation’s blockade of Odesa and other ports. Its implementation is vital so that Ukrainian farmers’ grain can again be baked into bread in markets and tables around the world and enable the World Food Programme (WFP) to address famine conditions, including in Somalia and Ethiopia. The record of the Russian Federation’s atrocities and crimes in the five months since its invasion of Ukraine cannot be forgotten. “Before the ink was even dry” on the 22 July grain accord, it attacked Odesa port, an assault that follows others: breaches of international humanitarian law in Bucha and Irpin, attacks on civilians in Mariupol, Kramatorsk train station, Kremenchuk shopping mall, apartment buildings in Chasiv Yar and Vinnitsyia, and widespread abuse or torture of detainees, as identified by Human Rights Watch and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Moscow Mechanism. This week’s video of the castration of a Ukrainian prisoner of war by Russian soldiers is an example of Russian Federation’s barbarism and criminality. The Russian Federation has breached obligations under the United Nations Charter. For five months, it has engaged in an illegal invasion of another Member State, in complete disregard of General Assembly resolutions and orders of the International Court of Justice. She also cited preparations for sham referenda as the latest example of breaches of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. She called on the Russian Federation to end its invasion, withdraw from Ukraine and uphold its Charter obligations.

DMITRY A. POLYANSKIY (Russian Federation) said since the Council’s previous meeting a month ago, his Government has made progress in its special military operations; its armed forces have fully liberated areas in Ukraine, including Luhansk; and the steady movement into Donetsk is continuing. The Internet is filled with video clips of people coming out into the street with ribbons and Russian flags, he said, stressing that the international community should look at these videos and see the reactions of real people. The Russian Federation is working to reconstruct areas. For example, in Mariupol electricity and water is being restored. People are choosing the country they can trust. Ukraine is losing these people before their eyes, as they lost the people in Donetsk in 2014. In the south of Ukraine, Ukrainian armed forces are employing favourite tactics and using civilian infrastructure as shelter and to store heavy materials. Western colleagues are not taking note of these changes, he pointed out.

In the past month, there has been progress in exporting Ukrainian grain and providing Russian fertilizer and products access to global markets, he said. On 22 July, two separate documents were signed as a package agreement. The Russian Federation was prepared to resolve these issues in April. But its Western backers sought to sabotage the package nature of the agreement, and emphasized the parts related to Western grain. It is inappropriate to blame the Russian Federation for the food crisis, which is artificially being created by the Western States. Implementation of the 22 July agreement has begun. Incidentally, the placing of military goods and hardware in Odesa port does not support the accord’s implementation. The Russian Federation will continue to destroy these goods as it did on 23 July, he said, adding that rockets supplied by the United States were destroyed. Weapons and mercenaries are being provided to the Ukraine from Western countries. This thoughtless ploughing of firearms into Ukraine will spill over into Europe. Criminal networks are smuggling firearms from Ukraine into Western European countries. He asked Western colleagues if they understand what they are doing — creating real risks for their populations at expense of their taxpayers. These weapons will end up in other conflict areas or used in terrorist attacks. “Don’t tell us we didn’t tell you,” he said, stressing that the demilitarization of Ukraine must be carried out in full.

MARTIN KIMANI (Kenya), stressing that the war in Ukraine threatens a new era of major global conflict, underscored that every briefing and every available platform must be used to sound the warning to Member States. “It is time we responded to the global threats of the situation in Ukraine,” he said. The European security order is in ruins and has been replaced by military-political alliances preparing for war. Great Power alliances are endangering the stability of the Korean Peninsula and the South China Sea, putting sea lanes, vital in a globalized economy, at risk. “It is not enough for Kenya to only sound the alarm. We must also propose actions,” he said. Among his suggestions, he said that the world will believe in the Council’s mandate if it can deliver a cessation of hostilities in Ukraine. The Council must stop being the echo chamber for growing appeals for humanitarian aid as millions of lives worldwide are threatened by extreme food insecurity. The conflict in Ukraine, like the COVID-19 pandemic, has proved that distributed food production, particularly in Africa and the developing world, is a key safety net. If the great Powers want to make their case to Africa, “they should start by partnering with us” to deliver fertilizer independence and gains in its agricultural productivity institutions. While in need of substantial reforms for inclusion, the Bretton Woods institutions can still offer ambitious solutions to major global challenges. The Secretary- General’s Global Crisis Response Group on Food, Energy and Finance offers a valuable platform for action in the short-term. Its recommendations and solutions should receive sufficient financial and operational support and be a bridge to longer-term ambitious reforms and initiatives, he said.

GERALDINE BYRNE NASON (Ireland), evoking the Secretary-Generals on the Black Sea agreement as “a ray of hope in a world darkened by global crises”, said its full, immediate implementation could not be more urgent. That is why the Russian attack on the port of Odesa less than 24 hours later was particularly cynical, she said, strongly condemning “this reprehensible act outright”. All parties made clear commitments to ensure the safe movement of Ukrainian grain to global markets to help address the global food crisis, reduce pressure on high prices, and ease the suffering of millions, including in places already devastated by hunger such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen and Lebanon. She underlined the irrefutable link between conflict and hunger and urged those who have been reluctant — or unwilling — to recognize this link to reconsider their position in light of this global crisis. All sides must act in good faith and implement their commitments without delay. However, the reason the agreement was needed in the first place must not be forgotten, she said, detailing attacks waged by the Russian Federation over the past five months — including the shelling of civilian spaces, men and women targeted by gunfire while evacuating, and civilian infrastructure such as drinking water and shelter being destroyed. The Russian Federation alone bears responsibility for this war and only it can end it, she said, calling on that country to comply with its obligations under international law and withdraw all its forces unconditionally from Ukraine.

LILLY STELLA NGYEMA NDONG (Gabon) welcomed the grain agreement reached in Istanbul, which will allow for a response to the world’s food needs, particularly those of African countries that depend on supplies from the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Implementation will require more commitment from the parties in order to produce all of the expected results. Noting that the agreement could trigger a positive dynamic, she encouraged the countries to seize the momentum to consider additional steps to resolve the crisis. A ceasefire is “urgent, necessary and within reach”, she said, so long as the parties redouble their efforts to achieve this goal.

RONALDO COSTA FILHO (Brazil), Council President for July, spoke in his national capacity to reiterate the call for the parties to act with restraint and prevent further civilian casualties as a side effect of the hostilities. The agreement announced last Friday brought with it the hope that political solutions can be achieved and negotiations between the parties resulted in a concrete response to an urgent problem. The two agreements in Istanbul paved the way for the resumption of exports of grains and fertilizers and the reintegration of the two countries to international markets. However, he echoed the disappointment expressed by other Council members over its inability to reach consensus on a presidential or press statement. Nonetheless, he welcomed the parties’ active engagement in the negotiations and urged both sides to avoid actions that could jeopardize the implementation of the agreements. Although the last few months seem to have downplayed the role of diplomacy in dealing with the crisis, “it is precisely in the face of the greatest challenges that we must remain committed to the spirit of the United Nations and devote all our efforts to achieving lasting peace,” he stressed, adding: “Let us not be carried away by the impulse to close the doors to dialogue.” The Istanbul accords point to a viable path. The Council’s priority must be the immediate resumption of direct negotiations between the parties to end hostilities.

SERGIY KYSLYTSYA (Ukraine) detailed recent Russian attacks, including a video that was posted on Russian Telegram channels of Russian forces torturing and killing a Ukrainian prisoner of war. There has been no de-escalation on the ground and the Russian Federation is not giving up its neo-colonial plans for Ukraine. Moreover, Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov recently claimed that “geographical objectives” of the so-called “special operation” had been expanded “to a number of other territories”. “Indeed, it sounded like the base wish of a thief to keep possession of what has been stolen. Indeed, one can hardly expect that Russian behaviour in the Council and on the ground will differ,” he observed.

He pointed out it took less than 24 hours for the Russian Federation to violate the Istanbul initiative and shell Odesa Port with missiles, one of three ports it had committed not to attack according to the above document. The Russian Federation denied its responsibility for the attack. The next day, realizing that its outright lie was obvious to everyone, it changed its story, assumed responsibility, but insisted that a missile store in Odesa Port was the target, a lie that was easily refuted by extensive footage from the site showing no sign of secondary detonation of alleged Ukrainian missiles. “We are grateful to the Secretary-General for his unequivocal condemnation of this attack. His clear assessment made futile all Russian attempts to create artificial caveats that the Istanbul documents have never contained,” he said. Ukraine remains resolute to help resolve the food crisis and will engage constructively with the Joint Coordination Centre. However, international partners must ensure the Russian Federation’s compliance with its obligations within the framework of the safe functioning of the grain corridor — a prerequisite for unlocking over 20 million tons of grain from last year’s grain harvest in Ukraine. Today Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the Chornomorsk Sea Trade Port, where the first carrier since the war began has been loaded with Ukrainian grain. “Now we are waiting for a green light from partners — representatives of the United Nations and Türkiye — regarding the start of grain transportation,” he said.

He went on to say that, as of June, the Russian war has led to the destruction or damage of 116,000 residential buildings that were home for 3.5 million Ukrainians and 183 religious sites, including 173 Christian, five Muslim and five Jewish, were destroyed in 14 Ukrainian regions. He then quoted a person who spent days, months and years in the Chamber and who chaired the Security Council: “There is nothing in the obligations that Russia has taken on — including within the framework of the agreements signed on July 22 in Istanbul — which would prohibit us from continuing the special military operation…”. That means nothing would deter the Russian Federation from killing and destroying. Addressing the Russian delegation, he said: “It is time to say it clear and loud, you are here because we let you be here for reasons that have proven to be wrong. We, all of us, tolerate your presence here because we need to remind you daily that you will be held accountable for war crimes and that the Soviet seat in this Council will not help you escape the punishment you deserve.” He recalled that the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis during the Second World War were committed collectively by thousands of individuals.

TOMÁŠ GRÜNWALD (Slovakia), once again condemning the Russian Federation’s propaganda and related distortion of facts and promotion of alternative reality, stressed that only that country can decide to stop the war at once. Slovakia together with other States and stakeholders have already made a commitment to help Ukraine in its reconstruction and recovery “as soon as this nightmare is over”. In addition, Slovakia welcomed the agreement reached between Ukraine and the Russian Federation to unblock the Black Sea for exports of grain, signed last week, he said, praising Türkiye and the United Nations for their effort and crucial role in reaching this agreement. Yet, “we were horrified that only one day after signing the agreement, Russian missiles hit Odesa Port, which can only be considered as total disregard for international law by the Russian Federation,” he said. He urged the Russian Federation to refrain from any additional action having the potential to hamper the agreement’s implementation, which is an important step in overcoming the global food insecurity caused by its aggression against Ukraine.

THIBAULT CAMELLI, European Union delegation, speaking in its observer capacity, condemned in the strongest terms the unprovoked, illegal war against Ukraine by the Russian Federation and aided by Belarus, reiterating that the former must immediately end its war and withdraw its troops from the entirety of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders. Stressing that Russian missile strikes have killed civilians across Ukraine, he urged Moscow to allow safe, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access without delay. Urging all parties to swiftly and in good faith implement the commitments made in Istanbul, he strongly condemned the Russian missile strikes against Odesa port, defying the deal allowing grain exports from blockaded Ukrainian ports. “The attacks once again demonstrate Russia’s disregard for international law,” he said.

The European Union is firmly committed to supporting the food security of its partners and its “Solidarity Lanes” plan with Ukraine facilitated the export of 2.5 million tons in June alone, up from 0.6 million tons in April, he said. The bloc is also mobilizing €7.7 billion until 2024 to support its most affected partners around the world. Reiterating that the European Union has no sanctions on the agricultural sector in Russian Federation, he said its sanctions do not prevent Russian flagged vessels from carrying grain, food or fertilizers to any third country. It is ready to look into any market avoidance or over compliance issues and address any obstacles raised. “Let us not forget that Russia itself is aggravating the global food crisis with its war of aggression against Ukraine,” he observed.

PĒTERIS FILIPSONS (Latvia), speaking on behalf of the Baltic States, said the Russian Federation’s use of forces blatantly violates the Charter. Such actions by a permanent Council member shake the foundation upon which the United Nations was built, and if not stopped and perpetrators are not held accountable, it may induce other actors to follow and further erode the international rules-based order. The sixth month of the Russian Federation’s aggression, aided by Belarus, against Ukraine began this week. A barrage of 25 missiles were launched at northern Ukraine from the territory of Belarus. According to the latest report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, more than 5,200 civilian deaths are documented in Ukraine. “Make no mistake, Russia’s warfare against the civilian population of Ukraine is not a coincidence or collateral damage. It is a deliberate and consistent approach throughout Russia’s war aimed at breaking the resistance and spirit of Ukrainian people,” he said. “Unable to defeat Ukraine in the battlefield, Russia’s military seeks to achieve its aims by terrorizing Ukraine’s civilian population.”

He said the international community must demonstrate that the norms, including the Charter, are not empty statements that can be trampled on by dictators and bullies, but ironclad obligations that the international community is determined to uphold. The only way to achieve this is by ensuring accountability, at all levels, for the atrocities committed against Ukraine and its people. All necessary support must be provided to the work of the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine mandated by the Human Rights Council and the OSCE Moscow Mechanism’s Expert Missions, as well as the investigation by the Office of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General. “Justice must prevail, the perpetrators must and will be held accountable,” he said. The Russian Federation has added a global dimension to its campaign of terror by deliberately blocking the export of Ukraine’s grains in order to cause a global food crisis, with the aim of exerting pressure on the international community and Ukraine. He welcomed the 22 July agreement to unblock Ukraine’s grain exports. Yet the Russian Federation’s missile attack on the port of Odesa proved it cannot be trust. The international community must closely follow the Russian Federation’s adherence to the deal and maintain pressure to ensure its implementation.

ANTJE LEENDERTSE (Germany) expressed strong support all efforts to provide unhindered access to Ukrainian and Russian grain, food stuffs and fertilizers to world markets, stressing: “these products are vital.” The 22 July agreement offers “a faint glimmer of hope” for those suffering most by the impact of the war. She condemned the attack on Odesa port in the strongest possible terms. There are signs of hope that the first batch of grain exports might be able to leave Ukrainian ports soon. Since the Russian Federation invaded Ukraine, food and energy prices have risen around the world, sowing chaos in supply chains, worsening global inflation and inflicting suffering on millions of vulnerable people. While humanitarian needs are at an all-time high, Germany is engaged in humanitarian assistance through WFP. The 24 June “Uniting for Global Food Security” Conference in Berlin highlighted the urgency of providing assistance as soon as possible. At the 28 June Group of 7 summit, countries stood firm against the weaponization of grain and provided an additional $4.5 billion, with $476 million in new commitments from Germany. To countries and peoples most affected by the war, she said: “You can count on our full support and solidarity,” urging Moscow to stop its aggression immediately, and on the international community to “join hands” against its illegal war in the interests of food security and equitable energy prices.

KRZYSZTOF MARIA SZCZERSKI (Poland) said the war of attrition being waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine “affects us all”. Poland is appalled by its human impact and will support Ukraine as long is necessary. He cited a recent report by the Polish Economic Institute, indicating that during the first three months of the war, 70 per cent of Poles were involved in helping Ukraine — 26.6 million people — opening their hearts to those in need and spending $2.2 billion from their own pockets for this purpose, amounting to almost 1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP). So long as the Kremlin regime spreads its outlandish and illegal justifications for its aggression, what it offers the world by no means can be defined as an alternative to the global rules-based order. It is working to destroy the multilateral system and the legal principles safeguarding the world from the ravages of war. If the Russian Federation is proposing anything, it is a model based on imperialism, anarchy, the law of force and spheres of influence, making it difficult for the international community to treat it as dependable and trustworthy.

Welcoming the recent grain agreement, he voiced full support for all initiatives aimed at mitigating the food crisis but questioned how countries can trust the sincerity of the Russian Federation, which one day signs a deal, and the next, shells the area intended to be part of it. He described this as an act of self-exclusion, which speaks volumes about the potential fate of any future negotiations. He called on the Council to help secure implementation of the agreement, noting the paramount importance that violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law do not go unpunished. In the name of the United Nations Charter and rules-based world order, he called on the Russian Federation to stop its illegal aggression, withdraw its forces and fully respect the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. “We are saying “niet” to Russkij Mir,” he remarked.

MAURIZIO MASSARI (Italy), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed the agreement reached in Istanbul to resume grain exports from Ukraine’s Black Sea ports as “a key mechanism” to prevent a food crisis in the most exposed countries in Africa, the Middle East and South-East Asia. He expressed the strongest condemnation of the Russian Federation’s unjustified and unprovoked aggression, the global impact of which is becoming clearer every day amid constraints on agricultural production and distribution, and price hikes, which expose vulnerable countries to multidimensional crises, as reported by the United Nations Global Crisis Response Group. Recalling that millions of tons of grain have been stuck in Ukraine’s Black Sea ports — or even cynically targeted by Russian shelling — since the start of the war, he denounced Russian missile strikes in Odesa the day after the deal’s signing and called on the Russian Federation to “swiftly and fully” implement the agreement. Italy will continue to support global food security, notably as the host country and a major partner of the United Nations Rome-based agencies, he added.

ANDREEA MOCANU (Romania), aligning herself with the European Union, said that as a neighbour to Ukraine, Romania is not only closely following events, but has begun a wide range of measures to tackle the consequences of the unprovoked and unjustifiable invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. To provide predictability for Ukrainian refugees, the Romanian Government this Tuesday unveiled a national plan for medium- and long-term integration of Ukrainian refugees in Romania. The plan — developed with partners from United Nations agencies in Romania, civil society and relevant ministries — aims to help Ukrainian refugees integrate smoothly and acquire personal independence, without feeling all the effects of the war. The areas targeted in the plan are education, health care, employment, housing, childcare and vulnerable groups. Both European and national funds will be used. While waiting for meaningful implementation of the agreements reached in Istanbul, she said her Government will help ease food crisis pressures by facilitating the export of grains via alternatives routes including land, railways, the Danube River and the Black Sea port of Constanta. About 2.7 million tons of Ukrainian cereals have already transited through Romanian territory, she said.

For information media. Not an official record.