Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at UNSC open debate ‘Protection of civilians in armed conflict: 25th anniversary of resolution 1265’


We thank the Mozambican Presidency for convening this open debate. We followed with interest the presentations by our briefers.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of UNSC resolution 1265, which placed the protection of civilians at the center of the Security Council's attention. We are also celebrating the 75th anniversary of the signing of the Geneva Conventions, which are the cornerstone of international humanitarian law. The Conventions, to the drafting of which my country made a significant contribution, were formulated in the aftermath of the Second World War and were largely written in the blood of the peoples of the Soviet Union, who had suffered unprecedented atrocities at the hands of Nazi Germany, including the use of starvation as a means of cleansing territory and seizing resources. These Conventions stipulated the rules for the treatment of the civilian population, including the obligation to provide them with basic necessity items.

Today, hunger is being used as a method of warfare in Gaza, with the support and patronage of a number of delegations who are now sitting in this Chamber. According to the Secretary-General's report on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, as recently as in December 2023, 90 % of Gazans were severely food insecure. The fact that there is hunger in Gaza is now universally recognized. Since the Israeli military took control of the Palestinian part of the Rafah crossing, the delivery of humanitarian aid has virtually come to a halt. However, the ceasefire that is indispensable for putting an end to famine has not been achieved. Israel ignored the relevant requirements of UNSC resolution 2728 (2024) with the indulgence of some Council members who called this resolution non-binding.

It is also noteworthy that the situation with hunger in Gaza is only mentioned in one paragraph on page five of the Secretary-General's report and is not even raised among the report’s recommendations, as if hunger in Gaza was just another episode among many armed conflicts,.

We cannot fail to note that the report mentions the unprecedented level of civilian deaths in Gaza as a result of what it calls Israel's "intense military response" after the Hamas attack. Further verbal equivocation implies that it could have been caused by deliberate or disproportionate but also by legitimate strikes.

The deaths of almost two hundred UN staff in Gaza are unprecedented in the entire history of the United Nations. Once again we must ask, are their deaths even being investigated by our Organization? We asked the same question when 13 UNRWA staff members were dismissed without any investigation, only on Israeli allegations. The report does not say a word about that.

A one-sided approach is also evident in other sections of the report. For example, for some reason it does not mention the fact that part of Syria's territory is under American occupation, and that occupation is the source of instability and civilian deaths in that country, whose authorities are taking steps to stabilize the situation.


The information in the report concerning the situation in Ukraine is a sad example of double standards.

First, unlike the report’s section on Gaza, in Ukraine’s section the Secretary-General fails to point out that Russia’s special military operation was launched in response to years of shelling and bombardment of Donbas, suggesting we should forget about the thousands of civilians deaths by the beginning of 2022, which included more than a hundred children.

Secondly, the report pretends there were no daily strikes (which are launched from Western weapons) against civilians and facilities in Donbas, Lugansk, Belgorod, and other regions of Russia. The West does not hesitate to supply depleted uranium shells, cluster munitions, and mines that are undefusable and unremoable. Examples of the use of American HIMARS systems and British Storm Shadow missile systems against civilian targets are plenty. As a result of artillery strikes since February 2022, more than 4.6 thousand civilians, including almost 200 children, have been killed and several thousand people, including more than 300 children, have been injured. There have been about 100 cases of civilians including nine children tripping the prohibited PFM-1 "Lepestok" anti-personnel mines with which the Ukrainian armed forces have covered the lands of Donbas. We have discovered and defused more than one million such munitions.

The military potential of virtually all NATO countries is being used for targeted strikes not against military facilities, but against densely populated areas and for the destruction of Russia's civilian population. I will cite a few examples.

On December 29, 2023, about 300 munitions were fired at civilian facilities of the Donetsk People’s Republic damaging a school, a technical school, residential houses, and infrastructure facilities. On December 30, cluster munitions were used to strike civilian facilities in downtown Belgorod. Twenty-five residents were killed, including five children. On that same day, 12 people were injured across the DPR. On the night of December 31 – January 1, the UAF shelled the center of Donetsk with MLR injuring 17civilians. The shelling of Belgorod continued on January 2. On January 5, Gorlovka was shelled with cluster munitions. On the eve of the Orthodox Christmas on January 7, 15 civilians were injured by UAF shelling in the DPR. On February 15, Ukrainian armed forces again struck peaceful neighborhoods in Belgorod. Seven people were killed, including a newborn. 19 people were wounded, including 4 children. A boy was killed in the shelling of a village in the Bryansk region. On January 8, Belgorod was shelled using the Czech-manufactured VAMPIRE. More recently, on May 12, the Kiev regime shelled Belgorod using Tochka-U missiles, VILKHA and VAMPIRE missile launch systems. After the fifth attack on that day, a section of a residential high-rise building collapsed killing 15 civilians and injuring 17 more, among which was a six-week-old infant.


The report points to some investigations currently being conducted by the Kiev regime. That includes the destruction of the Kakhovka dam which is being investigated as ecocide. I hope that this is an investigation into the activities of the leadership and armed forces of the Zelensky regime, who is the perpetrator of this this crime. We warned the Secretary-General about that in a letter dated October 21, 2022. We also trust that the investigation will extend to look into the deliveries of HIMARS missiles, which were used to destroy the dam and which are known to be used upon coordination with the suppliers.

We repeat that in this case, as in many others, it is the responsibility not only of Zelensky's regime but also of its Western sponsors, who continue to supply long-range weapons, provide the Kiev clique with recon data, and send their instructors and mercenaries to Ukraine.


In today’s armed conflicts, terrorist and extremist groups that wage wars without rules pose a particular threat. However, in this context, armed conflicts involving terrorists should be distinguished from situations of fighting terrorism and criminal groups. In that regard, we have questions about a certain inconsistency in the way the report qualifies different situations. For example, when dwelling on armed conflicts, the report mentions Nigeria, Mozambique, Niger, Burkina Faso and a number of other African countries, although what they are living through is fight against terrorism. At the same time, the report overlooks the situation in Haiti.

It would make sense to analyze the role of terrorist and extremist groups in inciting and prolonging conflicts. The unsuccessful attempts of Western countries, first of all France, to counter terrorism in Africa have also in practice led to armed conflict.


We should like to note positively the fact that the report, albeit in passing, draws attention to the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on humanitarian activities in armed conflict.

This is a significant step that requires further development. Russia held a special Arria meeting of the Security Council to discuss the negative impact of unilateral sanctions on the fight against terrorism. We believe their impact on humanitarian activities in armed conflict must receive due attention and assessment by the United Nations. It would be worth devoting to this topic a separate report by the Secretary-General under the agenda item that we are considering now.

Thank you.

Video of the statement