Distinguished members of the Security Council,
I thank the UK Presidency for convening this meeting. Today marks nine years since Russia shot down the civilian airliner MH17 over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.
Ukraine mourns the victims of this crime.
The case of MH17 is also a prime example of Russian lies and abuse of its illegal presence at the United Nations Security Council.
Instead of admitting guilt and cooperating with the investigation, Russia chose to promote conspiracy theories in order to confuse the public.
In 2015, Russia shamelessly used its UN veto to prevent the establishment of a relevant international tribunal. Despite its own denial of responsibility.
The Dutch trial finally put an end to all the Russian nonsense. The court determined that MH17 was hit by a Russian Buk missile fired by armed groups controlled by Moscow and that the system had been returned to Russia after the strike.
The bottom line is that no amount of lies can change the truth and avert justice.
In any situation, Russian strategy is kill, lie and deny. Our strategy should be the opposite: strength, truth and accountability.
Today we are facing two more situations of this kind. The first one was another set of lies and denials we have heard in this room. The second one is Russia killing the Black Sea Grain Initiative. Russia is blackmailing the world.
This blackmail affects the lives of millions of Ukrainians and tens of millions more around the world, primarily in Africa and Asia, who face the threat of rising food prices and hunger.
Ukraine makes no demands in relation to the deal. We simply want it to continue operating and expand its capacity. We want our grain to be freely exported and reach foreign customers.
At the same time, Russia has been systematically obstructing the Initiative’s normal functioning. Russia deliberately decreased the number of inspections in the Joint Coordination Center in Istanbul, limiting the capacity to 1-2 vessels per day. On April 29th, 2023, Russia fully blocked the functioning of Ukraine’s Pivdenny seaport. The last grain vessel departed the port of Odesa on July 16, 2023. As of now, Russia has fully blocked the functioning of the Black Sea Grain Initiative without announcing its termination.
Whatever Russia is saying to excuse its behavior, please note that while blocking our ports, Moscow is increasing exports of its own grain, including the one stolen from temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
Last year, when the initiative was introduced, grain prices around the world immediately dropped. Together with other factors, it had a positive long-term effect. In June 2023, they were 23.4% lower than in March 2022, when Russia started the illegal blockade of our seaports. The immediate outcome of Russia pulling out of the deal now will be that prices will again go up. Hurting those most vulnerable, primarily in Asia and Africa. Russia must stop playing hunger games with people around the world.
I call on all UN Member States to firmly demand that Russia resume its participation in the deal and stop its hunger games. Russia must keep politics out of global food security.
I must also draw the attention of the Council to another threat that Russia poses. Since Russia occupied the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in March 2022, Ukraine and other neighboring nations have been living in fear of a nuclear incident. Russia has violated all seven nuclear safety and security pillars of the International Atomic Energy Agency by stationing its military at the plant and turning it into a military base.
Despite international pressure, Russia refuses to withdraw from the plant. Today, Russia remains in full control and bears full responsibility for the situation there.
Russia is also spreading ridiculous conspiracy theories about Ukraine allegedly planning an attack on the plant. Whether it is the downing of MH17, the destruction of the Kakhovka dam or any other major Russian crime, their strategy remains the same: kill, lie and deny.
I will say it again, officially and unequivocally: Ukraine has never had and cannot have any intention of causing any incidents at our own nuclear power plants in our own country. The only force that has the capacity and the motives to cause any such incident is Russia. By acting together and calling out liars now, we can prevent them from executing their malicious plans.
I want to believe that the era of Russian crimes, lies, and denials is coming to an end. Russia is losing its illegal war against Ukraine. Putin’s regime is getting weaker by the day, and the latest Wagner mutiny has demonstrated it not only to the whole world but also to the Russians themselves.
Every defeat on the Russian battlefield brings Putin's regime closer to realizing the futility of aggression. We should all work together to bring this realization closer. For when the Kremlin's chief liar realizes no one believes his lies any longer, he will be forced to call a halt to the war.
This Council has been unable to take concrete actions in accordance with Chapter VII of the UN Charter for more than 500 days of Russia's full-scale invasion as well as for more than nine years of its aggression. And it applies not only to the case of Ukraine but to other conflicts in the world.
The root problem is well-known, and its name can be found on the fourth plate to the right of the Presidency. Despite the fact that this plate was placed on the table more than three decades ago, the UN Charter still says nothing about the legitimacy of its presence here.
We firmly believe that the future reform of the UN Security Council needs to include an essential component, the decision to deprive Russia of its illegally obtained status as a permanent member and the veto right that comes with it. This Council and the entire world will become much healthier place once Russia is out of here.
While some international organizations are paralyzed by fear or poisonous Russian influence, it is a Ukrainian soldier who assumes responsibility today. A Ukrainian soldier restores peace and security with each step forward and each liberated settlement in Ukraine. Basically, putting into action what this Council is supposed to maintain and enforce. This comes at a steep cost. But there is no other choice. Please honor this sacrifice and keep assisting us in bringing peace closer. Ukrainians will always be grateful for your support and our victory will also be your victory against the scourge of aggression in the world.
I thank you.