Russia plans UN resolution on humanitarian access to Ukraine

Moscow's war has killed hundreds of civilians and forced millions to flee their homes

Russia's Vasily Nebenzya addresses the UN Security Council in New York. Reuters
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Russia’s UN ambassador Vasily Nebenzya on Tuesday announced plans to advance a draft UN Security Council resolution about aid teams operating in Ukraine, which Russia invaded on February 24.

Speaking with reporters in New York, Mr Nebenzya also reiterated Russia’s calls for the “demilitarisation” and “denazification” of Ukraine, along with assurances it will never join the western military alliance Nato.

“We'll see whether the Security Council can or cannot fulfil its mission to adopt a resolution which will be on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine,” Mr Nebenzya said outside the UN chamber.

The draft would call for a “negotiated ceasefire, evacuation of civilians, the respect of international humanitarian and human rights law, condemnation of attacks against civilians … or civilian objects, safe and unhindered passage, [and] unhindered access of humanitarian assistance”, he said.

Mr Nebenzya also noted that the US military assault on Iraq in 2003 did not raise the same “level of outrage” and “hysterics” as had Moscow’s more recent “special military operation” in Ukraine.

He spoke with reporters against a backdrop of escalating violence in Ukraine, where Russian forces have pounded towns and cities with artillery and missiles as the number of refugees fleeing across borders approaches three million.

Security Council members France and Mexico had drafted their own resolution on humanitarian access to Ukraine, but on Monday said they would not put it before the chamber, where Moscow could use its veto to nix the document.

Instead, French and Mexican diplomats said they would take their draft to the 193-nation UN General Assembly, which this month voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine.

“There’s no veto in the General Assembly. That’s an important element to take into consideration,” said Geraldine Byrne Nason, the UN ambassador for Ireland, which holds a two-year seat on the Security Council.

She added that Ireland was “happy to engage” with Russian diplomats about the draft document on humanitarian access to Ukraine as long as her country’s “views are taken into account”.

Updated: March 15, 2022, 3:23 PM