MOHAMED KHALED KHIARI’S
REMARKS TO THE EMERGENCY SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING ON UKRAINE
New York, 29 DECEMBER 2023
Overnight, the Russian Federation armed forces carried out a massive aerial attack on Ukraine, reportedly launching 158 missiles and drones in several waves targeting locations across the country, including in Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv, Khmelnytskyi, Dnipropetrovsk, Sumy, Cherkasy, Odesa and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine.
Preliminary reports indicate that at least 30 civilians were killed and at least 160 injured. The strikes constituted some of the largest aerial assaults since the Russian Federation’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, launched in violation of the UN Charter and international law.
According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the latest attacks resulted in extensive damage to a wide range of civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings, a maternity hospital, schools, kindergartens, parks, a metro station, and a shopping mall, as well as energy infrastructure. Electricity was cut in several regions, following damage to transmission lines.
Rescue groups are still searching for people trapped under the rubble of residential buildings.
Regrettably, today’s appalling assaults were only the latest in a series of escalating attacks by the Russian Federation.
Since DPPA last briefed this Council on 6 December, we have continued to see daily reports of attacks on Ukrainian cities and towns, including on critical civilian and energy infrastructure, with many resulting civilian casualties. During the Christmas period alone, attacks on the city of Kherson reportedly killed several people and wounded many others. Apartment buildings and a medical facility, as well as a railway station packed with more than a hundred civilians awaiting evacuation, were struck. Similarly, almost daily shelling has been reported across part of the Kharkiv region.
According to OHCHR, in 2023, the war in Ukraine claimed the lives of 1,888 civilians and left 6,334 others injured, resulting in 8,222 civilian casualties. This brings the total of civilian casualties to 29,113 since the Russian Federation's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The actual figures are likely considerably higher.
The Secretary-General unequivocally condemns, in the strongest possible terms, today’s appalling attacks on cities and towns across Ukraine. Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure violate international humanitarian law, are unacceptable and must stop immediately.
Tragically, 2023 is ending as it began – with devastating violence against the people of Ukraine. Once again, Ukrainians are forced to spend the holidays seeking shelter, clearing the rubble, and burying the dead, amidst freezing temperatures.
As we look to the New Year in the hope of avoiding further escalation, we recall the Secretary-General’s appeal to all concerned to do their part to help lay the foundations for sustainable peace in Ukraine – in accordance with the UN Charter, international law, and resolutions of the General Assembly.