Russia’s “sustained” attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure have created “new levels of demand” in what he called a “senseless” war, the UN humanitarian chief said, as temperatures dropped below zero.
Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths detailed to the UN Security Council on Tuesday the toll of “widespread death, displacement and suffering” since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Griffiths said the situation was exacerbated by Moscow’s recent attacks on critical utility infrastructure, which left millions without access to heat, electricity and water and added “another danger of a humanitarian crisis caused by war.” level”.
More than 14 million people have now been forced from their homes in Ukraine, including 7.8 million who have sought refuge elsewhere in Europe, Griffith told the council.
A total of 17,023 civilians, including 419 children, had been killed as of Dec. 1, Griffith said, citing figures from the UN human rights office and warning that the “actual death toll is much higher”.
There were at least 715 attacks on healthcare facilities.
“As a result of attacks on civilian infrastructure, people are deprived of health care, children are deprived of an education, and today in Ukraine the viability of civilians is under attack,” Griffith said.
The U.N. Security Council has held dozens of meetings on Ukraine since February but has failed to take any meaningful action, with Russia one of five of the 15 member states that wield a veto over the rest. The countries are China, France, the United Kingdom and the United States.
‘Trying to break the will of the Ukrainians’
On Tuesday, some diplomats urged peace talks.
Speaking at the meeting, Gabon’s deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Edwig Kumbi Misambo, said, “Given that people have been weakened, disorganized and hopeless from months of war, more and more meetings are being held to inform the international society without providing a real alternative to war, it is not enough.”
“Now is the time to negotiate to end the war,” said Edvig Kumbi Misambo.
Russia’s UN ambassador Nebenziya said Moscow was “willing” to start talks, but only if the “root causes” that led to its aggression were addressed.
Moscow initially said its mission was to “disarm” Ukraine so that it posed no threat to Russia, but Kyiv and its allies believe Russia’s real intention is to overthrow Ukraine’s pro-European government.
“Ukraine needs peace, Ukraine wants peace, more than any other country, our territory is invaded,” Ukraine’s ambassador to the United Nations, Sergey Kislitsia, said.
“Keep this in mind every time Moscow tries to … convince us that this is not an aggressor, but a victim of resistance to peace efforts.”
Russia was rattled this week by drone strikes that struck three air bases on Russian territory, with President Vladimir Putin summoning his security council after the attacks.
Kyiv did not directly claim responsibility for the attacks or criticize the operation that killed the three people, according to Russian reports, which resulted in the destruction of long-range bombers and a fuel depot, according to Russian reports.
U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told reporters that the U.S. “neither encouraged nor permitted Ukrainians to carry out attacks inside Russia.”
Washington has provided billions of dollars in military equipment to Ukraine since the war began, and lawmakers on Tuesday agreed to provide at least $800 million in additional security assistance through 2023.
“Everything we do, everything the world does in support of Ukraine, is in support of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a briefing.
At the U.N. Security Council, Nebenziya claimed the arms shipment meant a diplomatic settlement for the West in Ukraine, calling the conflict “the West’s ongoing war against Russia.”
On the other hand, Lisa Carty, the deputy U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the “continuous escalation of Ukraine’s infrastructure” proved that Putin had “no real interest in negotiations or meaningful diplomacy.”
Officials in Kyiv have warned that Moscow’s latest missile attack comes as damaged power plants are being repaired, meaning millions of people will again face emergency power outages.
“He (Putin) is trying to undermine Ukraine’s will to fight by bombing and chilling Ukrainian civilians into submission,” Lisa Carty said.