Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Andrey Belousov, Deputy Head of the Delegation of the Russian Federation, at the Thematic Debate on “Conventional Weapons” in the First Committee of the 78th Session of the UNGA

Mr. Chair,

The Russian Federation consistently calls for further strengthening of the Inhumane Weapons Convention (CCW) regime through the universalization of the Convention and Protocols thereto, as well as bona fide implementation of their provisions. We welcome the outcomes of the CCW Sixth Review Conference and CCW Meeting of States Parties.

We appreciate the results of the work of the CCW Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS) in 2023. The Group was able to adopt a report with meaningful conclusions and recommendations, thereby laying a foundation for further LAWS discussions within the Convention.

We view the GGE on LAWS as the only best possible platform for discussing issues related to the military use of artificial intelligence technologies. All key States involved in active research and development in this area take part in the work of the GGE. This forum effectively strikes a reasonable balance between humanitarian concerns and the legitimate defense interests of countries in relation to respective weapons systems. It seems necessary to continue work in this format on the basis of the current GGE discussion mandate, agreed agenda and consensus principle. Therefore, we believe it counterproductive to transfer the LAWS agenda to any other international platforms, including the UN.

The Russian Federation attaches great importance to these issues. The adoption of the Concept of the activities of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in the development and use of weapons systems engaging artificial intelligence technologies on 26 July 2022 is a clear proof thereof. At the same time, we assume that the norms of international law, including international humanitarian law, are sufficient and fully applicable to these weapons systems.

Today we note the acuteness of such interdisciplinary and multidimensional problem as improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It is IEDs made from various types of ammunition that are the main cause of losses among military personnel and civilians, posing serious danger to civilians due to a number of circumstances. Their makeshift production significantly complicates IEDs detection and elimination, also making unpredictable their operation and consequences thereof. During the post-conflict period, IEDs may be triggered not only by humans directly, but also due to other natural and man-made reasons.

We proceed from the need for an expert discussion of these issues within the Amended Protocol II to the CCW. However, we would also like to warn the participating States against attempts at expanding the interpretation of the CCW mandate on improvised explosive devices. Any proposals of the future work on IEDs should, first of all, be consistent with the subject and purpose of the Convention. We support the idea of regularly updating the body of existing guidelines, "best practices" and other recommendations aimed at addressing the problem of diversion or illicit use of materials for IED production. 

Mr. Chair,

In the context of compliance with the CCW, the criminal actions of the Kiev regime require condemnation and response from the international community. The number of daily violations by Ukrainian formations of the norms and principles of international humanitarian law (IHL), including the deployment of heavy weapons in residential areas, the use of civilians as human shields and the use of civilian infrastructure for military purposes, demonstrates the absolutely conscious use of inhumane tactics of combat in violation of IHL.

We have registered facts of targeted mining by Ukrainian armed formations of roadsides, country paths, bridges, dams, areas around residential houses, educational and medical establishments. Ukrainian security forces have literally sown fields with anti-tank and anti-personnel mines over several years, often in farmland and agricultural facilities. The most egregious example is the mining of a number of towns and cities in Donbas with PFM‑1 "Lepestok" anti‑personnel mines. Moreover, this is being done using cluster munitions supplied by the USA.

All of the above is a direct violation of the basic provisions of IHL, including CCW Amended Protocol II. At the same time, Kiev is also in violation of the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction (the Ottawa Treaty), to which it has been a party since 2006. According to the UN, Kiev was to destroy about six million PFM-1 "Lepestok" and
700,000 anti-personnel mines (APMs) of other types as part of its obligations under the Ottawa Treaty. However, reality shows that this "destruction" was carried out only on paper. We call on the UN Member States to influence the Ukrainian authorities (including through the Ottawa Treaty) and to take effective measures to ensure that the Kiev regime complies with its international obligations and to prevent severe humanitarian consequences of its actions for the civilian population.

Mr. Chair,

As we attach great importance to the implementation of the United Nations Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, which remains, in fact, the only specialized global document on combating illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons, we advocate increasing its practical impact and strengthening national controls over all stages of the life cycle of such weapons, from their production to disposal. We believe that the following measures are in demand: the introduction of a ban on the supply of all types of SALW to unauthorized structures of the recipient State; strict regulation of brokering activities; prevention of unauthorized re-export of weapons; and cessation of the production of weapons in a "pirate" manner, i.e. without licences or under expired licences.

Furthermore, we pay increased attention to the UN Register of Conventional Arms as one of the main mechanisms for transparency and ensuring international security by monitoring and identifying destabilising accumulations of weapons in certain regions of the world. At the same time, we are wary of attempts by a number of countries to expand the scope of the Register, taking into account the precedents that have already taken place when this mechanism has been used for purposes that are not inherent to its purpose, including in determining the parameters of the arms embargo imposed under the United Nations Security Council.

We continue to believe that it would be inappropriate to accede to the international Arms Trade Treaty or to participate in official events held under its auspices. In this case, we assume that the standards set by the Treaty are substantially lower than the Russian standards. In addition, the practical application of the Treaty also raises serious questions. It is absolutely unacceptable that its individual parties continue to supply military products directly or indirectly to zones of armed conflict.

Thank you.