Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations

Statement by First Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy at UNSC briefing on the political and humanitarian situation in Syria


We thank SESG Pedersen and Director of Resource Mobilization, Ms. Lisa Dowton, for their review of the political and humanitarian situation in Syria.

The escalation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict zone, unprecedented in terms of the scale of casualties, is provoking additional tension in our friendly country Syria. Against the backdrop of Israel's deadly operation in the Gaza Strip and the military raids in the West Bank, there has been a noticeable intensification of various forces and formations in the region. The increasing number of raids by the Israeli Air Force against Syrian targets, especially the airports in Damascus and Aleppo, which serve as the main gateways for the entry of United Nations humanitarian aid to Syria, as well as the growing exchanges of strikes on the Blue Line with Lebanon risk dragging Syria into a full-scale regional confrontation. This must not be allowed to happen.

At the same time, the existing difficulties in the country persist and are getting worse. That includes the terrorist hotbed in Idlib, clashes between Kurds and pro-Turkish formations, as well as instability in the south, including in the US-controlled area near Al-Tanf. It is worth noting that in the context of the situation in Gaza, our American colleagues exploit the point about combating the threat of terrorism and self-defense. They assert groundlessly that this right is there for Israel (the occupying power in Palestine), but also for Washington and its allies, who illegally occupy parts of Syrian territory on the pretext of countering ISIL and Al-Qaida.

At the same time, the United States denies Damascus both the right to fight the UNSC-listed terrorists from Hayat Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib and the right to self-defense against arbitrary Israeli attacks. In these circumstances, the silence of our Western colleagues who cannot fail to understand the risks stemming from such reckless actions, is very telling.

We strongly condemn this trend and regard the strikes against the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic as a flagrant violation of Syrian sovereignty and the basic provisions of international law, including international humanitarian law.

In the context of advancing the Syrian political process within the framework of UNSC resolution 2254, we consistently and unwaveringly support the resumption of energetic work of the Constitutional Committee under UN mediation. Support for it is also expressed in the final declaration of the sixth session of the Russian-Arab Cooperation Forum at the level of foreign ministers, which concluded its work in Marrakech, Morocco. It speaks of "aspiration to resume work on the Syrian constitutional path facilitated by the United Nations". In this connection, we count on the assistance of SESG Pedersen to the Syrian parties in finding a new mutually acceptable platform for the Constitutional Committee, without dispersing efforts in other areas that are not supported by the Syrians.


We remain convinced of the need to ensure the fundamental right of Syrian refugees to return, as provided for in Security Council resolution 2254, subject to strict coordination of such efforts with Damascus. In that connection, we should like to note the decree by President Bashar Al-Assad of 16 November on a general amnesty. That decision by the leadership of the SAR, in addition to the 2022 amnesty, is intended to facilitate the return of Syrian citizens to their homeland. Moreover, the Syrian Government has demonstrated its readiness to promote civil reconciliation through concrete actions and to work at the detainees and missing persons’ track, thus contributing to the implementation of Security Council resolution 2254. The final declaration of the sixth session of the Russian-Arab Forum for Cooperation at the level of foreign ministers, to which I have referred, also mentions the importance of addressing the refugee crisis and its consequences which Syrian refugees and their host countries are faced with. It also notes the need to strengthen cooperation between the Syrian Government and the countries hosting refugees to organize and facilitate their voluntary, dignified and safe and end their suffering in coordination and cooperation with the relevant UN agencies.


Besides, the document reaffirms the importance of delivering humanitarian aid to all Syrian regions without any politicization. However, speaking of the humanitarian situation in Syria, the reasons for concern but keep growing. Humanitarian workers on the ground perceive it in that way too. The lack of adequate funding, politically conditioned donor contributions, Western sanctions, and an excessively politicized approach to humanitarian operations in Syria is causing the situation on the ground to deteriorate rapidly. We call on the UN country team in Damascus to develop a more effective approach to assisting Syrians in need across the country without discrimination.

The UN Resident Coordinator in Syria is now required, inter alia, to show political will and report to us on the negative impact of unilateral sanctions on the situation in that country. Mandate was given by resolution of the Second Committee, which the General Assembly approved the day before yesterday, on December 19. By the way, the instruction to monitor the negative impact of sanctions applies to the entire country team, including OCHA. The Secretariat’s internal guide "Parameters and Principles of Humanitarian Assistance to Syria", which explicitly links reconstruction activities to progress at the political track, should have been revoked long ago. This is nothing else but direct indulgence on the part of the UN Secretariat of Western anti-Syrian approaches, which casts a shadow on the impartiality of UN personnel, which is prescribed by the Charter of the United Nations.


On November 10, the Syrian government rebewed the permission for the UN to use the Bab Al-Salam and Al-Rai cross-border checkpoints for another three months, i.e. until February 13, 2024. On January 13 next year, the temporary permission for the UN to use the Bab Al-Hawa crossing expires. Its further fate will depend on a sovereign decision of Damascus to be made within the framework of Syria-UN bilateral dialogue. In any case, we proceed from the premise that the humanitarian potential of the Bab Al-Hawa crossing point should not be used by the United Nations personnel from the Gaziantep Office for spontaneous visits to Idlib that are not coordinated with Damascus. On this matter, OCHA must report strictly to the Syrian authorities.

We know that the United Nations plans on sending, at last, the first humanitarian convoy across the line of contact to the north-western regions of Syria. This will be the first one since the non-renewal of Security Council resolution 2672, and it is anticipated to dispatch by the end of the year. We count on the success of this operation. After all, as they keep telling us, the humanitarian needs in the regions of that part of the country outside Damascus' control remain high.

Generally, it must be stated that the mechanism of cross-line convoys, the need for which our Western colleagues do not dispute, is still not working. We see no particular zeal on your part to work with those whom you cowardly call "the authorities on the ground" to rectify this totally unacceptable situation, which undermines the point that aid to the Syrians in Idlib must be delivered by all possible means. A conclusion begs itself that our Western colleagues do not care about the suffering of the Syrians, just as they do not care about the suffering of the Gazans. All they care about is geopolitical games and supporting their clients in the region, no matter what crimes they may commit.

Thank you

Video of the statement