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Briefing Security Council on Ukraine, ASG Khiari underscores "the fighting and bloodshed must cease"

Assistant Secretary-General Khaled Khiari’s remarks to the Emergency Security Council on

threats to international peace and security

New York, 30 December 2023


Mr. President, members of the Security Council,

As feared, the two-year cycle of death and destruction, on full display during the Russian Federation’s large-scale attack on Ukraine yesterday - which at the last count killed at least 39 Ukrainian civilians - has further escalated overnight.

According to the Russian authorities, as a result of Ukrainian missile and rocket strikes on the city of Belgorod - which lies 30 kilometres from the Ukrainian border - at least 14 civilians, including two children, were reportedly killed.  At least 108 others, including 15 children, were reportedly injured.

Attacks on locations in the Belgorod city centre reportedly resulted in damage to civilian infrastructure, including the regional government office and the medical college of Belgorod State University. The strikes were reported as among the deadliest cross-border attacks on the Russian Federation since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, launched in violation of the UN Charter and international law.

The Russian military authorities also reported separate overnight Ukrainian drone attacks in the Bryansk, Oryol, Kursk and Moscow regions of the Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities reported new overnight Russian drone attacks targeting the Kherson region.

The United Nations is not in a position to independently verify the various reported attacks or casualty figures.

Mr. President,

As we meet again today, reports of new air raid alerts are also coming in from across Ukraine, including in the Kharkiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Cherkasy, Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk regions. Just a few hours ago, the city of Kharkiv was reportedly attacked, resulting in civilians injured and civilian infrastructure damaged. As the war continues, we will see more Ukrainian and Russian civilians killed and injured.

As we have repeatedly warned, the latest series of attacks is a stark and vivid reminder of the very real dangers of further escalation and spillover of this war. We reiterate the Secretary-General’s appeals for de-escalation of tensions and for an end to attacks on civilians, population centres, residential areas, civilian and energy infrastructure.

We unequivocally condemn all attacks on cities, town and villages, in Ukraine and in the Russian Federation.  Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure violate international humanitarian law, are unacceptable, and must end now.

Protection of civilians must be the main priority.  The fighting and bloodshed must cease, the war must come to an end.

Thank you.