Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Ukraine

Robert A. Wood, United States Ambassador to the United Nations (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Ambassador Robert Wood
Alternate Representative for Special Political Affairs
New York, New York
May 18, 2023


Thank you, Madam President, and I thank Mr. Ebo for his detailed briefing.

We gather again just weeks after discussing this same topic and, unfortunately, little has changed. We’re here again listening to Russia’s allegations that arms shipments from the United States and other countries providing support to Ukraine in its self-defense are the grave threat in the Ukraine conflict, and not Russia’s invasion of its sovereign neighbor. It’s a really interesting – and I might add – twisted narrative they choose.

They’re very much alone in this position. Members of this Council, the General Assembly, and the Secretary-General have all repeatedly made clear that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a violation of the UN Charter and Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The United States has staunchly supported Ukraine’s right to defend itself against Russia’s brutal, unprovoked war of aggression. We, along with 50 other states, will continue to do so.

The provision of weapons for Ukraine’s territorial defense is not extending or exacerbating this conflict. Rather, these arms help repel Russia’s invasion of its neighbor and prevent an even further invasion of Ukraine’s sovereign territory. These arms shipments help prevent Russia from further brutalizing Ukraine’s civilians, forcing them from their homes, and driving up energy and food costs across Europe and around the world.

Arms shipments by the United States and other friends of Ukraine are not the cause of a continuation of Russia’s needless war. If Russia had any genuine desire for a de-escalation, it would simply withdraw its troops and end its invasion. Instead, underscoring its own hypocrisy, Russia brings topics such as this to the Security Council, and blames others for the death and destruction its aggression has caused and is continuing to cause in Ukraine. Russia is cynical enough to call for this discussion, while it continues to relentlessly rain down missiles and drone strikes on cities and critical infrastructure, killing civilians – all in the service of the Kremlin’s bloody land grab in blatant violation of the UN Charter.

We know that both Russia and Iran violated UN Security Council Resolution 2231 when Iran transferred drones to Russia. Russia has used these drones to attack Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and kill Ukrainian civilians.

We know that in November 2022, the Wagner Group, a vicious mercenary organization working in coordination with the Kremlin, imported infantry rockets and missiles from the DPRK in violation of the UN arms embargo on the DPRK. Moreover, senior Russian officials and the DPRK have been involved in additional discussions aimed at Russia providing the DPRK food and commercial aircraft, in exchange for more than two dozen different kinds of weapons and munitions in what would be further violations of multiple resolutions of this Council.

And just last week, the owner of the Wagner Group was calling openly for the transfer of more shells and munitions into Ukraine for his troops to continue Russia’s illegal invasion.

And yet Russia wants to talk about support of Ukraine’s self-defense as the problem. Once again Russia seeks to instrumentalize this Council as yet another platform for its ongoing disinformation campaign. We must not, and will not, let them.

The United States and others will not end our support for Ukraine in the exercise of its right of self-defense. Doing so would only allow Russia’s unconscionable killing and injuring of civilians to continue unchecked. Accepting Russia’s brazen attempts to redraw borders by force would tear up the rulebook that has made all of us more secure, and it would have dangerous repercussions around the world.

Instead, we will continue to provide our support, while working with Ukraine to maintain the highest safeguards to ensure the weapons we provide are not diverted into unintended hands. We take the risks of diversion seriously. Last year our Administration unveiled a strategy to help Ukraine and partners in the region counter threats posed by potential diversion of weapons in Eastern Europe. We have stressed accountability from the very beginning of the conflict, and have processes in place to counter illicit diversion. Ukraine has been a transparent, willing partner throughout.

By helping Ukraine and neighboring states account for and safeguard arms and ammunition during transfer, in storage, and when deployed, strengthening border management and security in Ukraine and neighboring states, and building the capacity of relevant government agencies to deter, detect, and interdict illicit trafficking of certain weapons, we are taking concrete steps to address threats posed by such potential diversion.

By supporting Ukraine and its self-defense, we are upholding the UN Charter. Through its heinous acts in Ukraine, Russia is trying to drive a stake through the heart of the Charter. In this Council and at every other opportunity, we will continue to state the obvious: Russia can end its war of aggression at any time. Russia can end its reliance on these ineffectual attempts to distract us. Russia can simply remove its troops from Ukraine’s territory and stop its relentless bombardments of Ukraine’s cities, its people, and its civilian infrastructure. That is what we need to remain focused on. Until that happens, the United States will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it takes.

Thank you, Madam President.