The UN Security Council has released its first statement on Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine, supporting Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ efforts to find a “peaceful solution” to the crisis, but avoiding the use of the words “war”, “invasion” or “conflict”.
Security Council statements are agreed upon by consensus. The brief text adopted on Friday was drafted by Norway and Mexico.
“The Security Council expresses deep concern regarding the maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine,” it said. “The Security Council recalls that all Member States have undertaken, under the Charter of the United Nations, the obligation to settle their international disputes by peaceful means.
“The Security Council expresses strong support for the efforts of the Secretary-General in the search for a peaceful solution,” reads the statement, which also requests Guterres brief the council again “in due course”.
Guterres, who met Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last week, welcomed the council support on Friday, saying he would “spare no effort to save lives, reduce suffering and find the path of peace”.
Asked what led Russia, which is a permanent member of the council and has a veto, to approve the latest text, one diplomat told AFP news agency, under the condition of anonymity, that “all the good stuff is gone”.
The declaration is the first show of unity from the Security Council since Russia invaded on February 24 in what it has called a “special military operation”.
Mexico’s ambassador to the UN, Juan Ramon de la Fuente, said the declaration was “a very first initial step but it points on the right direction”.
“It’s encouraging to see diplomacy is getting its place at the council,” he said, adding that “quiet diplomacy is sometimes much more effective than when you have lots of statements.”
His Norwegian counterpart, Mona Juul, said it was “the first unanimous decision made by the council after this horrific war started in Ukraine”.
“The needs and the suffering of the people of Ukraine needs a maximum effort from the United Nations side both from the council, from the secretary-general and from the UN system as such,” she said.
Russia vetoed a resolution on February 25 that condemned the invasion and asked Moscow to withdraw. China, the United Arab Emirates and India also abstained from that vote.
The UN, tasked with ensuring world peace, has not yet established itself as a possible mediator for a peaceful resolution of the war and is instead working in a mainly humanitarian role.
During Guterres’ trip last week to Russia and Ukraine – his first since the war began – he managed to secure backing for the evacuations of several hundred civilians from Mariupol, the southern Ukrainian city besieged by Russian troops for weeks.
More evacuations are expected on Saturday.
The 193-member UN General Assembly, where no country has a veto, has overwhelmingly adopted several resolutions that have condemned Russia’s “aggression against Ukraine,” and demanded that Russian troops stop fighting and withdraw. It also voted last month to suspend Russia from the Geneva-based Human Rights Council over allegations of horrific rights violations by Russian soldiers in Ukraine.