Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses the UN General Assembly, New York City, September 19, 2023 (Caitlin Ochs/Reuters)
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 1642 GMT:
The chair of the Security Council session, Albanian President Edi Rama, has called out Russia over its invasion of Ukraine:
It would be an insult to the intelligence of this organization if we fail to unanimously recognize and say loudly, “Who is the aggressor and who is the aggressed?” It is the same sharp difference between war and peace.
If we fail to admit this crystal clear truth, we are not only letting down Ukraine and its people. We are failing our core responsibility, compromising the future and betraying all our children from Brazil to Spain from the Arctic to the South Pole.
The struggle of Ukraine are the struggles of everyone who aspires to live in a world where nations are free and equal, where territorial integrity is indisputable and the right to live in peace is unquestionable.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida spoke of “an unprecedented crisis” for international order based on the rule of law.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has exacerbated concerns over a rule of lawlessness around the world. We must not allow the creation of a second or third Ukraine.
Kishida said Russia’s “abuse of the veto power” to obstruct the Security Council “cannot be accepted by the international community”.
UPDATE 1624 GMT:
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has told the UN Security Council of 574 days of “pain, losses and struggle” in Russia’s invasion. He noted how the “criminal and unprovoked aggression” has killed tens of thousands of people and turned millions into refugees.
He chided the UN as “ineffective”, leading people to lose confidence in the ability and willingness to defend sovereign borders.
While grateful to countries who recognized the invasion, he said it “changed nothing” because “a deadlock on the matters of aggression” thanks to Russia’s veto in the Security Council.
The President said that the veto should be subject to General Assembly review if any UN member displays aggression: in the event of a 2/3 majority reflecting the views of nations from Asia, Africa, Europe, both Americas, and the Pacific, the veto would be overridden.
Zelenskiy also suggested reform of the Council, given that it is “unjust” when billions of people do not have a permanent representative even as Russia does.
“African unity” should have a permanent seat, he said. Asia should have broader representation beyond China, and Germany and the Pacific states deserve a place.
UPDATE 1615 GMT:
At the UN Security Council’s special session on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Secretary-General António Guterres said Moscow’s war “is aggravating geopolitical tensions and divisions, threatening regional stability, increasing the nuclear threat, and creating deep fissures in our increasingly multipolar world”.
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia tried to prevent Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy speaking at the session. He told Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, who is chairing proceedings, “If today you bang the gavel thereby implementing your decision [allowing Zelenskiy to address Council members], the Albanian Presidency will be tainted”.
Rama responded, “Those who have a direct interest in the outcome of the matter under consideration may speak prior to Council members if appropriate.”
UPDATE 1610 GMT:
The Ukraine military says its forces struck a Russian Black Sea fleet command post near Sevastopol in Crimea on Wednesday morning.
Earlier today (see 1312 GMT) a spokesperson for Ukraine Defense Intelligence said of explosions in Crimea, “We can confirm that these were the actions of the Ukrainian security and defense forces against the occupiers’ military target.”
UPDATE 1342 GMT:
The political row over Poland’s ban on Ukraine’s grain imports has esclated, with the Polish Foreign Ministry summoning Kyiv’s Ambassador in Warsaw.
The Ministry protested Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s criticism in his address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.
Zelenskiy challenged the unilateral bans imposed by Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia after the European Union refused to extend the measure from September 15 to the end of 2023.
It is alarming to see how some in Europe play out solidarity in a political theatre – making a thriller from the grain. They may seem to play their own role but in fact they are helping set the stage for a Moscow actor.
Earlier on Wednesday, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki warned Kyiv against retaliatory steps against Polish produce:
if they are to escalate the conflict like that, we will add additional products to the ban on imports into Poland. Ukrainian authorities do not understand the degree to which Poland’s farming industry has been destabilized. We are protecting Polish farmers.
Kyiv’s Trade Representative Taras Kuchka stepped back from a threat to sue the three Central European countries, “Ukraine wants to avoid a lengthy court in the World Trade Organization framework, and to reach an understanding through negotiations.”
UPDATE 1312 GMT:
Ukraine Defense Intelligence has said that a series of explosions in Russian-occupied Crimea on Wednesday were the outcome of Ukrainian operations.
Spokesperson Andrii Yusov said:
We can confirm that these were the actions of the Ukrainian security and defense forces against the occupiers’ military target.
The planned work of the Ukrainian security and defense forces continues, of course, on the military facilities of the invaders in the temporarily occupied territories, including the Ukrainian Crimea….
The ultimate goal, of course, is the de-occupation of Ukrainian Crimea. At this stage, the enemy’s positions should be weakened. Crimea is still being used as a logistics hub for, among other things, the transfer of enemy forces and means to other parts of the front. In order to destroy this logistics hub, certain operations are being used and implemented: at sea, on land, and in the air.
UPDATE 1229 GMT:
Ukraine Defense Intelligence claims that “unknown saboteurs blew up two warplanes and a helicopter in the Moscow region” on Monday.
The statement said the sabotage was on the Chkalovsky airbase, about 30 km (19 miles) northeast of the Russian capital.
Unidentified persons planted explosives at the heavily guarded airfield and blew up AN-148 and IL-20 aircraft (both belonging to the 354th Special Forces Regiment), as well as a MI-28N helicopter, which had previously been actively involved in shooting down attack drones over the Moscow region.
The damage to the aircraft will not allow [Russia] to count on their quick recovery.
On Monday, Russian media reported a fire near the base, but gave no details.
UPDATE 1216 GMT:
A fuel depot was set on fire, possibly from a drone strike, in Sochi in southern Russia on Wednesday.
Video showed the depot, owned by Russian oil company Rosneft and near Sochi International Airport, ablaze as firefighters worked to extinguish the flames.
The governor of the Krasnodar region, Veniamin Kondratyev, posted on Telegram, that the fire spread over 96 square meters (1,000 square feet): “There are no victims.The reasons for the incident are being clarified.”
The Telegram channel Baza, which is close to Russian security services, said the cause was a drone strike.
UPDATE 1147 GMT:
The Centre for Information Resilience has detailed how Russia “deliberately and repeatedly” targeted medical facilities in Kherson city in southern Ukraine, damaging children’s hospitals, maternity wards, and a regional clinic.
Ukrainian forces liberated Kherson in November 2022, eight months after Russian troops occupied the city in the early days of Vladimir Putin’s invasion.
After their expulsion, the Russian units have bombarded Kherson from positions on the eastern (left) bank of the Dnipro river, attacking civilian infrastructure, schools, private residential houses, hospitals, and the railway station.
CIR documents damaged to seven medical facilities. Open-source investigators found seven had been damaged — some on several occasions — in 14 attacks between December 2022 and May 2023. The latest strike on a hospital was in August.
The CIR built their report from satellite imagery, witness accounts, and photos posted on social media. It also verified 17 incidents of damage to educational facilities between December and May.
UPDATE 0642 GMT:
The Ukraine Air Force says 17 of 24 Russian attack drones were downed overnight.
An oil refinery was struck, starting a fire, in Kremenchuk in central Ukraine.
Russian shelling killed two people and injured four in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine. Two people were wounded in the Zaporizhzhia region in the south, and five in the Donetsk region in the east.
On Tuesday, at least six civilians — four men and two women — were killed in a Russian missile strike on Kupyansk in the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine.
A bridge over the Oskil River was destroyed and several cars were damaged.
UPDATE 0633 GMT:
Ukraine First Lady Olena Zelenska, following up President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s General Assembly address on Russia’s mass abduction of Ukrainian children, has urged world leaders to help return the deported juveniles.
Zelenska cited Kyiv’s confirmation of almost 20,000 children transferred by force to Russia or Russia-occupied territory, with only 386 brought back home.
She said the minors are being indoctrinated and deprived of their national identity:
They were told that their parents don’t need them, that their country doesn’t need them, that nobody is waiting for them.
The abducted children were told that they are no longer Ukrainian children, that they are Russian children.
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called on the UN General Assembly to support Kyiv’s Peace Formula while opposing Russia’s “genocide” in Vladimir Putin’s 19-month invasion.
Zelenskiy recalled the presentation of his 10-point formula via video address to the Assembly in September 2022. He noted that more than 140 states and international organizations have either fully or partly supported the formula.
The plan seeks a ceasefire with restoration of Ukrainian sovereignty and a withdrawal of Russian forces. It includes food and energy security; nuclear safety; prevention of “ecocide”; and release of all deportees and prisoners.
Saying that he will give details to the Security Council on Wednesday, Zelenskiy explained:
The Ukrainian Peace Formula is becoming global. It’s poised to offer solutions and steps that will solve all forms of weaponization that Russia used against Ukraine and other countries.
“Genocide” of Abducting Ukraine’s Children
Meanwhile, Zelenskiy said, the world must stand firm against the invasion: “We have to stop it. We must act united to defeat the aggressor and focus all our capabilities and energy on addressing these challenges.”
He addressed Russia’s war crimes and “treacherous” actions such as the mass abduction of Ukrainian children.
We know the names of tens of thousands of children and have evidence on hundreds of thousands of others kidnapped by Russia in the occupied territories of Ukraine and later deported….
The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants [for Vladimir Putin and Russian “Children’s Rights” Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova] for these crimes and we are trying to get children back home. Fine. Time goes by — what will happen with them?
Warning that the children will be taught to hate Ukraine, with all ties with their families broken, he summarized: “This is clearly a genocide.”
Putin’s Energy and Food Wars
The President described Russia using energy as a weapon — “Now this threat is even greater” — and attacking global food supplies with its missile and drone strikes and its blockade on Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.
Russia is launching the food prices as weapons. The impact spans from the Atlantic coast of Africa to the south-east Asia.
He called for support for a temporary corridor in the Black Sea to break the Russian blockade.
Guterres: “Historic Human Rights Abuse”
UN Secretary General António Guterres told the Assembly that Russia has created a “world of insecurity” in its invasion: “[This has] unleashed the next phase of our lives: historic human rights abuse, families torn apart, children traumatised, hopes and dreams shattered.”
He pointed to Putin’s shredding of the July 2022 Black Sea grain deal as he described “serious implications” for all nations: “The world badly needs Ukrainian food and Russian food and fertilizers to stabilize markets and guarantee food security.”
US President Joe Biden told the Assembly that support of Ukrainians against Russia’s invasion is “not only investment in Ukraine’s future, but in the future of every country” that values the UN rules of sovereignty and territorial integrity “that apply equally to all nations”.
We strongly support Ukraine in its efforts to bring about diplomatic resolution that delivers just and lasting peace. Russia alone, Russia alone, bears responsibility for this war. Russia alone has the the power to end this war immediately.
And it’s Russia alone that stands in the way of the peace. Because Russia’s price for peace is Ukraine’s capitulation, Ukraine’s territory and Ukraine’s children.