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 briefing on the political and humanitarian situation in Syria


We thank SESG Pedersen and USG Griffiths for their briefings.

This meeting is taking place against the backdrop of an unprecedented upsurge in violence in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone, which has lasted for more than 140 days and which has implications not only for the military and political situation in Syria but also for the situation in the entire Middle East. We are particularly concerned about the intensification of the so-called "retaliatory strikes" by the US Air Force in the region, as well as the continuing Israeli air strikes against its Arab neighbors, including the occupied Syrian Golan and the Blue Line with Lebanon, which pose risks of drawing both Syria and its neighbors into a full-scale regional confrontation.

Over the past month, Israeli air force has repeatedly attacked international airports in Damascus and Aleppo, which serve as the main gateways for the entry of United Nations aid into Syria, and carried out strikes in the areas of Deir ez-Zor, Abu Kemal and the Golan Heights. Speaking of American airstrikes, they targeted facilities and positions of the Syrian armed forces in the east of the country, where governmental troops continue fighting against the remaining ISIL, to which Washington, contrary to its statements, in fact provides guardianship and protection. We have no doubt whatsoever that the ongoing United States attacks on facilities in Iraq and Yemen, no matter how Washington tries to justify them, constitute a direct threat to international peace and security and undermine the world order based on the supremacy of universal international law and the central role of the United Nations.

For our part, we strongly condemn the continuing raids against the Syrian Arab Republic. We regard them as a flagrant violation of the sovereignty of the country and the basic norms of international law.

In general, we note that the United States intervention in Syria under the pretext of combating terrorism continues to play an extremely destabilizing role. This is where Washington's blatant double standards show at their best. Our American colleagues are trying to whitewash the UNSC-listed terrorists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, who control Idlib, by condemning the authorities in Damascus and its allies for fighting them. At the same time, the United States tries to present Israel's inhumane and deadly operation against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, which is presented as a fight against Hamas (a movement not recognized by the United Nations as a terrorist movement), as a fight against terrorism and the exercise of Israel's right to self-defense.


Despite the fact that there is no alternative to a Syria-owned and Syrian-led political process compliant with Security Council Resolution 2254, the political track in the SAR is stalling. The Constitutional Committee (CC), which is the main platform for direct inter-Syrian dialog, cannot resume its work due to problems with selecting a venue that would be acceptable to the Syrians. Let me stress that in the first place, it must be acceptable for the Syrians themselves rather than for external stakeholders. If SESG Pedersen believes that Geneva, which is no longer neutral, will suddenly again prove acceptable to the Syrian parties, so be it. If not, we hope that Special Envoy will finally focus his efforts on finding a solution for the next round of the CC consultations, without trying to impose any of his own preferences on the Syrian parties.


The humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate. Among other things, this has been caused by massive destruction that occurred over the years of the crisis and after 2022 earthquake on the border with Türkiye, the suffocating illegal unilateral sanctions, the theft of the country's natural resources by the occupying United States forces, and the extreme politicization of the humanitarian file as a whole. The latter is manifested in the record low level of funding for the UN humanitarian response plan for Syria. Last year, less than 40% of the funds were raised. Needless to say, this was not enough even for basic needs of Syrians. The US and its satellites have pushed off the issue of early recovery from the humanitarian agenda. In this context, we are extremely disappointed over the absolute lack of morality of Western donors, who brag about their contributions financial contributions that are spent on accommodating Syrian refugees in third countries. Essentially, it dooms those people to a life in tent camps, making their survival completely dependent on humanitarian aid. That’s what they do instead of providing real assistance to Syria in the development and reconstruction of infrastructure so that refugees can return home as soon as possible.

We regret that, despite the Secretariat's timid attempts to raise this problem, the internal guidelines of the Secretariat "Parameters and Principles of UN Assistance in Syria", which were imposed by Western countries and which directly prohibit United Nations structures on the ground from engaging in reconstruction activities, have not yet been revoked. Thus, under an absolutely politicized pretext, Syrians are being denied early restoration of water and electricity supply, schools, hospitals, which is crucial for the return of refugees.

By prioritizing political considerations, Western countries are planting a social time bomb and risk facing a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions not only in the Middle East but also in Europe.

The terrorist enclave in Idlib remains exceptionally attractive to Western donors. Despite the fact that it is controlled by the UNSC-listed Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, UN humanitarian operations there receive funding on a regular basis. Against the background of the situation with UNRWA and the still unproven involvement of its staff in a Hamas attack, this looks like yet another cruel manifestation of "double standards".

How else can we explain this paradox if not by total indifference of Western states to the lives and fates of ordinary Syrians?

The situation with humanitarian access is illustrative too. After last year's earthquake, Damascus approved (in the spirit of good will and responsible behavior) and continues to renew permits for the UN to use three checkpoints on the border with Türkiye – "Bab al-Salam", "Al-Rai" and "Bab al-Hawa". Also, there are simplified procedures for all requests and missions from the United Nations. However, there is still no cross-line access to Idlib and other areas in northern Syria. We understand that the Syrian government has not been informed in detail about the activities of UN humanitarian workers in the uncontrolled territories in the northwest. Void formal replies do not count. It turns out that, despite the non-renewal of the Security Council resolution on the cross-border mechanism, the United Nations still tries to bypass Damascus. We emphasize that the Syrian Government has every right to receive comprehensive reports on the maneuvers of humanitarian workers, primarily in Idlib. This work must be clearly organized. We call on OCHA to meet its responsibilities and fully implement its mandate, as set out in United Nations General Assembly resolution 46/182, which is to coordinate and harmonize humanitarian activities in any part of Syria with official Damascus.


There is high demand for a special report on the impact of sanctions on humanitarian activities in the Syrian Arab Republic. Regardless if Western donors like or dislike them, preparing such reports is now the direct responsibility of the UN system of Resident Coordinators, which derives directly from the UNGA resolution "Unilateral coercive measures as a means of political and economic coercion against developing countries". This resolution explicitly instructs the Secretary-General, together with the UN Resident Coordinators and country teams, to monitor the impact of unilateral measures on affected countries, including their trade and development. We look forward to issuance of this document in the near future.

Thank you.

Video of the statement