What's In Blue

Ukraine: Briefing under the “Threats to International Peace and Security” Agenda Item

Tomorrow morning (12 April), the Security Council will convene for an open briefing under the “Threats to international peace and security” agenda item. Russia requested the meeting to discuss the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine. Chief of the Conventional Arms Branch at the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) Ivor Fung and activist and commentator Karen Kwiatkowski are the anticipated briefers. Ukraine is expected to participate under rule 37 of the Council’s provisional rules of procedure.

This morning (11 April), the Council held a briefing on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, at the request of Ecuador and France. Assistant Secretary-General for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas Miroslav Jenča and OCHA Director of Operations and Advocacy Edem Wosornu briefed at that meeting.

Tomorrow’s briefing is the thirteenth meeting requested by Russia on the issue of Western arms supplies to Ukraine since the start of the war on 24 February 2022. Russia has initiated these meetings to express its view that the provision of weapons to Ukraine is contributing to the escalation of hostilities and undermining efforts to achieve a peaceful settlement to the conflict. Moscow has accused western governments of waging a proxy war in Ukraine with the aim of promoting Russia’s strategic defeat.

On the other hand, Ukraine’s allies have maintained that their provision of military assistance, including weapons, is intended to support Ukraine’s fundamental right to self-defence, in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter. These countries argue that Russia bears full responsibility for resolving the conflict, which could be achieved by withdrawing its troops from Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Fung is expected to raise concerns about the intensified missile and drone attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. According to a 9 April OCHA humanitarian flash update, aerial attacks continue to affect civilians across the country. The report notes that, between 4 and 9 April, the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) verified more than 120 civilian casualties, including 29 deaths. Fung is also likely to emphasise that any transfer of weapons must take place within the applicable international legal framework, including relevant Security Council resolutions. He may note that the influx of weapons in any armed conflict can create risks of escalation and diversion. In this regard, he might emphasise that measures to prevent the diversion of ammunition and weapons—such as pre-transfer risk assessments and end-user verification—can help to support conflict prevention and post-conflict recovery, among other things. Beyond the matter of weapons supplies, Fung might also focus on how these weapons are being used, underscoring the responsibility of all conflict parties to protect civilians and refrain from the use of explosive weapons in populated areas.

Council members are likely to reiterate their established positions on the issue of weapons supplies to Ukraine. Several members are expected to condemn Russia’s intensified missile attacks across the country. Additionally, concerns might be raised about the alleged supply of ballistic missiles and other munitions by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to Russia, purportedly for use against Ukraine, in violation of Security Council resolutions. In this regard, some members might criticise Russia for casting a veto on 28 March on a draft resolution (S/2024/255) extending the mandate of the Panel of Experts (PoE) assisting the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee. All other members—except China, which abstained—voted in favour of the text. (For more information, see our 22 March What’s in Blue story.)

The General Assembly convened today for a meeting to discuss the 28 March veto, pursuant to resolution A/RES/76/262 of 26 April 2022, which stipulates that the President of the General Assembly shall convene a formal meeting of the General Assembly within ten working days of a veto being cast by a permanent member of the Security Council. At that meeting, some members highlighted the PoE’s crucial role in providing reliable information to support the 1718 DPRK Sanctions Committee’s work. They regretted the blocking of the PoE’s mandate renewal, noting that this action hinders efforts to monitor and ensure transparency in the implementation of Security Council resolutions, and intensifies suspicions of Russia’s non-compliance with relevant resolutions. Additionally, at today’s Security Council briefing on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, the US accused Russia of vetoing the draft resolution for the purpose of reducing independent reporting on Moscow’s “destructive policies and actions”.

At tomorrow’s meeting, Russia is expected to reject claims that it has used ballistic missiles provided by the DPRK in Ukraine. In its explanation of vote on 28 March, Russia claimed that the PoE had become politicised and that the sanctions regime no longer reflected realities on the ground, was overtly punitive, and contributed to heightened political tensions on the Korean Peninsula, thereby undermining denuclearisation efforts. Moreover, during today’s General Assembly meeting, Russia accused the PoE of having “compromised themselves with odious conclusions”, adding that the “true intentions” of certain Council members’ support for the draft text was to “investigate Russia with predetermined conclusions”. Moscow said that it “will soon submit to the Security Council a draft resolution that would provide for a one-year renewal of the PoE mandate and firmly stipulate the imperative for the Security Council to take a decision on updating the parameters of the DPRK sanctions regime”, adding that “[t]his may be the Council’s last opportunity to reach a balanced decision”.

Russia is also expected to repeat its accusations that Ukraine is using Western-supplied weapons to target civilian areas in Russia. Some members argue that the ongoing supply of weapons to the battlefield exacerbates the risk of the conflict spilling over into neighbouring regions and diminishes the prospects for peace.

Several members are expected to call for intensified diplomatic efforts aimed at achieving a negotiated settlement to the war. However, members may present diverging visions of an appropriate framework for achieving a peaceful solution. (For more information on Council dynamics on this issue, see the brief on Ukraine in our February 2024 Monthly Forecast.)

Tomorrow’s briefing is the second of three currently scheduled meetings on Ukraine this month. At this morning’s briefing on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, Jenča reported that since March, attacks on critical infrastructure destroyed or damaged more than two dozen energy facilities throughout Ukraine, including the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant. He emphasised that such attacks have disrupted access to electricity and water for millions of Ukrainians. Wosornu underscored the dire humanitarian situation, noting that more than 14.6 million people—approximately 40 percent of Ukraine’s population—are currently in need of humanitarian assistance.

On Monday (15 April), the Council will convene for a briefing on Ukraine under the “Threats to international peace and security” agenda item. The meeting, which was requested by Slovenia and the US, with support from France and Russia, is expected to focus on the situation at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) in the city of Enerhodar. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi is expected to brief.

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