Deputy Prime Minister's speech at the United Nations Security Council

Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden’s speech on Ukraine at the United Nations Security Council in New York on 20 September 2023, as it was delivered

DPM Ukraine UNSC

Thank you, President.

I am proud to sit here today in solidarity with President Zelenskyy. He and the Ukrainian people have met Russia’s invasion of their country with bravery, and with courage. I pay tribute to their fortitude.

Ukraine’s fight against Russian aggression is not only a fight for freedom, it is also a fight for the principles upon which the United Nations itself is based, principles underpinned by our Charter which says that all States’ sovereignty is equal, that territorial integrity is inviolable, that disputes should be settled peacefully and that we must protect those things together.

When Russia’s tanks rolled into Ukraine they trampled over every one of those principles. They have done so ever since. Every missile, every bomb, every false arrest, every piece of propaganda has been a flagrant assault, not only on freedom, but on our multilateral rules-based system.

If we allow Russia to lay waste to what we have built here, the risks to world order, the risks to us all, are grave.

For over a year and a half, Ukraine has been suffering the terrible consequences of Russia’s war of choice. We must never forget the human cost. 9,500 people killed. 17,000 people injured. Reports of 500,000 military casualties on both sides.

Russia has callously targeted schools, hospitals, even playgrounds. Ukrainians have been tortured, they have been raped. Men, women, and thousands of children have been forcibly deported from their homes.

And the devastation flows beyond Ukraine’s borders. Thanks to their destruction of thousands of tonnes of grain, the hungry and malnourished people of the developing world are Russia’s victims too. That is why the United Kingdom will contribute a further £3 million to the World Food Programme to continue President Zelenskyy’s ‘Grain from Ukraine’ initiative.

Of course, the only end to this widespread suffering is through a just and lasting peace. Ukraine has demonstrated their commitment to peace time again and again including in Copenhagen and Jeddah this summer. But they have also shown on the battlefield this summer that they are capable of restoring the sovereignty and territorial integrity that must be the foundations of any peace.

Ukraine’s counter-offensive has put Russia under pressure. In total, Ukraine has regained 50 per cent of the territory seized since the war began and in Kharkiv and Kherson, the yellow and blue flag flies high once again. That flag flies throughout the rest of the world, reflecting the solidarity we feel to Ukraine. Yet we might wonder what difference does this support make when Russia seems so impervious to UN demands?

When it seeks to fuel its aims with arms from sanctioned states such as Iran and the DPRK and when it conducts sham elections in Ukraine’s sovereign territory? The truth is this: Russia knows the power of collective action because it tries so hard to weaken and divide the international community.

So, just as we need to confront our biggest challenges on global poverty, on climate change, on artificial intelligence collectively, we need effective multilateralism to achieve resolution. To seek justice for the many, many victims. To rebuild ruined cities and create new opportunities. To get grain exports flowing again. To help put Ukraine back on the path to prosperity. To secure peace.

And that is what we shall do, together.

Thank you, Mr President.

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Cabinet Office
The Rt Hon Oliver Dowden CBE MP