Russian actions in Ukraine “state terrorism”

The head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Monday that Russia’s targeting of Ukrainian civilians, as well as schools and hospitals, was “state terrorism”.

“The invading force started targeting the civilian population and infrastructure with the aim of breaking the spirit of the Ukrainian people,” Zbigniew Rau said. “This is deplorable and shameful and amounts to state terrorism. Schools, hospitals and kindergartens are being deliberately targeted with internationally banned weapons.”

The UN said it has credible reports that Russian forces are using cluster munitions in populated areas.

Rau, who is Poland’s foreign minister, addressed the UN Security Council on Monday in his capacity as OSCE chairperson-in-office for 2022.

Russia is a member of the OSCE and Rau said Moscow accused him of bias in responding to the conflict.

“I have only one answer to these kinds of allegations: impartiality ends where gross violations of international humanitarian law begin,” he said.

Rau urged Russia and Belarus, which hosts Russian troops on its territory and has been accused of allowing missiles to be fired from its soil, to end this “cruel enterprise”. He said it served neither their government nor the interests of their people and would only further isolate the two countries internationally.

“The door to diplomacy is always open, and I call on Russia to engage in meaningful and substantial dialogue to seek a peaceful solution to the current crisis,” Rau said.

Rau said he expects Moscow to honor its international obligations and commitments, adding that any lasting political solution “must fully respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence within its internationally recognized borders”.

The Russian envoy rejected the OSCE chairman’s offer of diplomacy, saying he had chosen a side in the conflict and was therefore not an honest broker.

“The purpose of the President-in-Office’s work is precisely to resolve disagreements between the participating States and to bring positions closer; it is in no way a question of taking biased measures which further inflame confrontation, and above all not to take leading an anti-Russian campaign at the OSCE,” Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia told the council.

The situation is getting worse on the ground

UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the meeting that the situation had worsened over the weekend as Russian forces launched deadly strikes in the west of the country.

“Ukrainian cities are under constant shelling and shelling, with many civilians killed every day,” she said.

The UN human rights office put its verified death toll since the start of the conflict at 636 civilians killed and 1,125 injured as of midnight Sunday, but acknowledges it is likely much higher. Meanwhile, nearly 2 million people have been internally displaced and 2.8 million have fled to neighboring countries.

People arrive by ferry after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing, Romania, March 14, 2022.

People arrive by ferry after fleeing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, at the Isaccea-Orlivka border crossing, Romania, March 14, 2022.

“We must not allow any questioning of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders,” DiCarlo added.

Its boss, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, spoke to reporters outside the Security Council chamber. He announced $40 million from the UN’s central emergency response fund to meet urgent needs in Ukraine, where food, water and medicine are in short supply.

“This war goes far beyond Ukraine,” he warned of the humanitarian implications.

Guterres said this threatens the food security of millions of people in the developing world, as Russia and Ukraine are responsible for almost a third of the world’s wheat trade and more than half of the world’s supply. in sunflower oil for cooking.

“Now their breadbasket is bombed,” said António Guterres.

This is particularly worrying for the United Nations, as Ukraine supplies the World Food Program with more than half of its wheat supply. With 41 million people on the brink of starvation in 43 countries, a mediocre or non-existent harvest in Ukraine will make feeding them much more difficult.

The Kyiv government has repeatedly called on the West to seal off the skies over Ukraine with a no-fly zone. Asked about this, António Guterres said that a number of countries had analyzed this possibility, but that it could risk escalating the conflict into a global conflict.

“It is based on this analysis that I think we have to be careful, although I understand the dramatic appeal of the Ukrainian government,” he said.

The UN chief reiterated his calls for an end to the war and the opening of dialogue.

“We need peace. Peace for the Ukrainian people. Peace for the world,” he said. “We need peace now.”

Meanwhile, the sponsors of a draft Security Council resolution on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine, which has been under negotiation for two weeks, said they would not seek a vote in the council but would submit to all members of the General Assembly.

“Obviously it would have been difficult in the Security Council, no need to explain to you why,” French envoy Nicolas de Rivière said in response to a reporter’s question.

Russia holds veto power in the 15-nation council.

“We believe it is time to act to move to the General Assembly and that all members support an initiative on humanitarian access, on the cessation of hostilities, on respect for international humanitarian law, on the respect for the Geneva Conventions,” said Ambassador de Rivière. . “So we are very optimistic that we can do it. The sooner the better. The situation on the ground is deteriorating by the hour.”

Thelma J. Longworth