I’d like to start by joining others in thanking ASG Khiari for your informative briefing.
Since it terminated the Black Sea Grain Initiative last week, Russia has unleashed a new barrage of strikes on Ukraine’s towns and cities.
On Sunday, Russia attacked Odesa’s UNESCO-listed city centre, injuring dozens, including four children.
Among the buildings badly damaged, as we’ve heard, was the Transfiguration Cathedral – Odesa’s largest Orthodox church.
The Transfiguration Cathedral has been bombed twice in 1936 on Stalin’s orders and now by Putin’s order.
This act of cultural and religious vandalism struck at the heart of the civilian community and was condemned by the Director-General of UNESCO.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has left a wide trail of destruction across the country. UNESCO has verified damage to over 270 cultural or historical sites, including libraries, churches, theatres, museums and memorials.
Thousands of artworks and other artefacts have been stolen.
Russia is imposing its laws and education systems in Ukraine, restricting Ukrainian media and indigenous languages and trying to indoctrinate Ukrainian children through forced transfers to Russia.
Russia is seeking to destroy Ukraine’s history, identity and cultural heritage.
With these strikes, Russia is also harming the world’s hungriest. By targeting Ukraine’s Black Sea and Danube ports, Russia is trying to damage Ukraine’s ability to export food.
It’s already destroyed tens of thousands of tonnes of food and reduced Ukraine’s ability to store its upcoming harvest, pushing up global food prices.
We stand with the people of Ukraine as they rebuild after Russia’s attacks, and we fully support the UN’s continued efforts to bring food onto global markets.
Russia is not even trying to hide the cynicism and cruelty of its illegal war.
It is trying to bring Ukraine to its knees and to wear down the international community.
But Ukraine will not be subjugated and we will not relent in our support for Ukraine, including in this Council.