Security Council Holds Emergency Meeting On Reported Attacks On Belgorod, Russia
The top UN political affairs official condemned attacks against the Russian city of Belgorod, located near the Ukrainian border, as he briefed the Security Council at an emergency meeting convened on Saturday afternoon.
At least 18 civilians were killed and more than 100 injured in an attack on Belgorod, said Khaled Khiari, Assistant Secretary-General in the UN Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, briefing the Council on the latest developments.
Russia had called for the emergency meeting following reported attacks on Belogorod. Located about 40 km north of the Ukrainian border, Belgorod is home to more than 300,000 residents.
The emergency session was being held less than 24 hours after the Council convened a meeting on Ukraine, during which the UN chief condemned Russian attacks against multiple Ukrainian cities and towns.
‘We unequivocally condemn attacks’
“We unequivocally condemn all attacks on cities, town and villages, in Ukraine and in the Russian Federation,” Mr. Khiari said. “Attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure violate international humanitarian law, are unacceptable and must end now.”
He said that even as the Council meets today, reports of new air raid alerts were also coming in from across Ukraine, including in the Kharkiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, Kherson, Cherkasy, Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk regions.
Indeed, just a few hours ago, the city of Kharkiv was reportedly attacked, resulting in civilians injured and civilian infrastructure damaged, he said.
Civilian deaths in Belgorod
Mr. Khiari said attacks on locations in the Belgorod city centre reportedly resulted in damage to civilian infrastructure, including the regional government office and the medical college of Belgorod State University.
“The strikes were reported as among the deadliest cross-border attacks on the Russian Federation since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, launched in violation of the UN Charter and international law,” he said.
At the same time, he said, the Russian military authorities reported separate overnight Ukrainian drone attacks in the Bryansk, Oryol, Kursk and Moscow regions of Russia.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian authorities reported new overnight Russian drone attacks targeting the Kherson region, he said.
“As the war continues, we will see more Ukrainian and Russian civilians killed and injured,” he said. “Protection of civilians must be the main priority. The fighting and bloodshed must cease, the war must come to an end.”
Russia: EU complicit in ‘terrorist attack’
Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said the city centre of Belgorod were struck with missiles and attacks by prohibited cluster munitions and Czech-produced Spyder bombs. Targets included a sports centre, ice rink and a university.
He requested Czechia and other Western States to account for where their assistance is going.
“There’s no use pretending,” he said. “The European Union countries are complicit of the crimes committed by the gang in Kyiv.”
Council members said civilians should not be a target
Council members roundly condemned attacks targeting civilians.
Schools should be safe havens for children, said UAE Deputy Ambassador Mohamed Issa Abushahab.
“Civilians must be protected, and civilian objects should not be targets for attacks,” he said.
Calls for Russia to end war
French Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière echoed a point raised by several Council members, emphasizing that if Russian troops were not on Ukrainian soil, “we wouldn’t be here this afternoon”.
United Kingdom representative Thomas Patrick Phipps said that Russia is trying to draw equivalence to Friday’s Council meeting on Russian strikes against Ukrainian cities and towns.
However, Russia started this war and can end it, he said.
Many speakers agreed, calling on Russia to withdraw from Ukrainian territory and end hostilities.
United States: Russia alone is responsible for starting war
Russia alone is responsible for starting this war, in violation of the UN Charter, said United States representative John Kelly.
“As long as Russia persists, the US will support Ukraine in its right to defend itself,” he said, calling on Moscow to immediately end the war.
He also called for the protection of all civilians on all sides in every conflict.
China’s representative Geng Shuang was deeply concerned about the long, drawn out crisis in Ukraine.
“There are no winners in conflict,” he said, reiterating China’s willingness to work towards a peaceful solution.