Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Explanation of vote by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia before UNSC vote on Russian amendments to the draft resolution on safety of navigation in the Red Sea (proposed by the US and Japan)


My country attaches the utmost importance to the safety of international navigation. In that regard, we cannot but be concerned about the current situation in the Red Sea, given that many countries are heavily dependent on the supply of essential goods through Red Sea routes.

We have repeatedly condemned attacks on civilian vessels and other actions that jeopardize the freedom and safety of navigation and the lives and health of crews. We have warned against additional risks of regional escalation that may result from such steps, and have called for respect for the principles of safety of navigation.

At the same time, we are concerned that the United States and its allies prefer (as has happened many times in the past) the path of resolving the problem unilaterally by force. They have assembled a so-called "international coalition" (which quite characteristically consists mainly of American ships), which is supposed to "ensure security", although in reality the legitimacy of its actions raises the most serious questions in terms of international law. We should not have any illusions about the true goals of the authors of the resolution. This is not about ensuring the safety of navigation in the Red Sea at all, but an attempt to legitimize (post factum) the actions of the aforementioned "coalition" and have Security Council’s endorsement for an unlimited time.

This conclusion obviously follows from the current language of OP3, which introduces a certain "right of states to defend their vessels against attack", which does not exist in international law. This innovation looks extremely doubtful from both legal and political points of view.

To remedy this, we suggest the following oral amendments. The text is being distributed among the delegations. 

First, we suggest adding a new PP9 to the resolution, which emphasizes that all its provisions should not be seen as setting precedents or creating new rules of international law: “Stressing that all provisions contained in this resolution should not be considered as setting precedents or new norms of international law”.

We suggest deleting the reference to the non-existent norm "on the right to defend vessels" and replacing it with a much more relevant, in this context, reference to the applicable rights of member states under international law. Our proposal is to replace language of OP3 “and takes note of the right of member states in accordance with international law to defend their vessels from attacks, including those that undermine navigational rights and freedoms” with the following phrase, “and in that regard takes note of applicable rights of member states in accordance with international law”.

Finally, as we have repeatedly stated, the situation in the Red Sea requires us to take an honest look at it and recognize that it is a direct regional projection of the violence in which the Gaza Strip has been drowning for more than three months as a result of Israel's unprecedentedly brutal military operation. In order for the waters of the Red Sea to become calm again, the current escalation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone must be resolved, the slaughter in Gaza must be stopped and Palestinian-Israeli settlement must be addressed seriously. The main root cause of the current situation in the Red Sea is the escalation in Gaza. Without mentioning that in the resolution, the cause-and-effect nexus will be disrupted and the overall context distorted.

That is why we suggest adding to OP7, after its words “including the conflicts contributing to regional tensions” a phrase “in particular the conflict in the Gaza Strip”.

We call on the delegations to support our proposed amendments.

Thank you.

Video of the statement