Ukraine, February 2023 Monthly Forecast : Security Council Report (2023)



Expected Council Action

In February, the Security Council is expected to hold a high-level debate on the situation in Ukraine to mark the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of the country. Additional meetings on Ukraine are possible, depending on developments on the ground.

Key Recent Developments

Hostilities remain concentrated in eastern Ukraine as Russian forces continue to conduct ground attacks near the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region. After weeks of heavy fighting, Ukraine confirmed on 25 January that its troops had withdrawn from the city of Soledar, a town roughly 15 kilometres north of Bakhmut. Fighting has also been reported in the southern Zaporizhzhia region and near the cities of Svatove and Kremmina in the Luhansk region.

Russia has continued to launch air and missile assaults targeting civilian infrastructure across Ukraine. The attacks have triggered massive blackouts and a reduction in water supplies throughout the country. On 14 January, a Russian missile hit a residential building in the southeastern city of Dnipro, killing at least 45 civilians, including six children. Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the assault in a 16 January statement, emphasising that attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure violate international humanitarian law and “must end immediately”. The latest Russian missile barrage on 26 January, which targeted sites throughout Ukraine and reportedly led to 11 civilian deaths, came one day after the US and Germany agreed to deliver tanks to Ukraine—a development described by Russia’s ambassador to Berlin, Sergey Nechaev, as having “taken the conflict to a new level of confrontation”.

In a 5 January press briefing, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General Stéphane Dujarric confirmed that the UN was disbanding the fact-finding mission concerning the 29 July 2022 incident at a detention facility near Olenivka—a village in the eastern Donetsk region that is controlled by Russian-backed separatists—in which over 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war were reportedly killed. Dujarric cited “the absence of conditions required for the deployment of the mission to the site” as the main reason for its disbandment. The fact-finding mission had been announced on 3 August 2022, following requests from the governments of Russia and Ukraine.

At a 12 January press stakeout, Ukrainian First Deputy Foreign Minister Emine Dzhaparova said that Kyiv had decided to postpone the tabling of a draft General Assembly resolution on accountability, which member states had been negotiating since December 2022, until later this year. She said that Ukraine would instead prioritise a draft General Assembly resolution that would seek to enshrine the ten-point peace formula that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had proposed during a Group of 20 (G20) summit on 15 November 2022. The peace formula includes calls for nuclear safety, food and energy security, the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine, restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity, the release of all prisoners and deportees, and the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes.

On 13 January, the Security Council held an open briefing on the situation in Ukraine, which Albania and the US—the co-penholders on political issues in Ukraine—had requested with the aim of receiving a comprehensive update on the political and humanitarian aspects of the war. At that meeting, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said that the war in Ukraine “has created a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe, traumatized a generation of children and accelerated the global food and energy crises”, warning that the “damage could pale in comparison with the consequences of a prolonged conflict”. DiCarlo acknowledged, however, that the prospects of a peaceful settlement to the war remains elusive, noting that “the logic that prevails is a military one, with very little, if any, room for dialogue”.

On 20 January, Russia convened an Arria-formula meeting titled “The systematic war of Ukraine against the residents of Donbass: 2014 and Onwards”. The briefers included Arnaud Develay, a French attorney; Enrique Refoyo, a Spanish political scientist; and Maya Pirogova, a social activist from the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine. At that meeting, several members—including Albania, France, Switzerland, and the US—accused Russia of spreading false narratives and disinformation, which they view as part of a broader strategy to divert the international community’s attention from Russia’s violations of the UN Charter. In a 21 January tweet, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative Dmitry Polyanskiy described the meeting as “eye opening” for the wider UN membership and criticised Russia’s “Western ex-partners” for being closed-minded.

Human Rights-Related Developments

On 17 January, the Security Council held an open briefing on Ukraine under the “Threats to International Peace and Security” agenda item, requested by Russia. The Council was briefed at that meeting by Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and head of the UN Human Rights Office in New York Ilze Brands Kehris and Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Anthony, chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow. Kehris said that “the armed attack by [Russia] against Ukraine and the ensuing hostilities have brought the most severe forms of human rights and international humanitarian law violations”. As at 17 January, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) had recorded more than 7,000 civilians killed and more than 11,000 injured since 24 February 2022, with the actual figures being much higher, she added. During the briefing, Kehris also highlighted concerns over restrictions to freedom of religion and freedom of association across Ukraine.

Key Issues and Options

The overarching priority for the Council is to promote a solution to the conflict and facilitate dialogue among the parties to that end. Meanwhile, a key issue for the Security Council is how to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Periodic briefings from Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths or other OCHA officials could help keep the Council informed of the humanitarian situation on the ground. Council members may also wish to call on Russia and Ukraine to facilitate the UN’s unimpeded access to areas close to the frontlines where needs are acute. On 18 January, the UN announced plans to increase the number of inter-agency convoys providing aid to areas near the frontlines.

Another key issue for the Council is how to promote the safety and security of nuclear facilities in Ukraine. On 20 January, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that it was “expanding and intensifying activities” to help prevent a nuclear accident during the ongoing conflict, setting up several permanent expert missions at Ukraine’s nuclear plants. Efforts continue by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi to establish a nuclear safety and security protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Council members may wish to ask for a briefing by Grossi on this topic.

Another important issue for the Council is how to ensure the effective implementation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (BSGI). At the 13 January briefing, US Permanent Representative Linda Thomas-Greenfield accused Russia of deliberately slowing down the inspection of vessels, creating a backlog of dozens of ships. In an 18 January note to correspondents, the UN urged “all parties to work to remove obstacles for the reduction of the backlog and improve operational efficiencies within the [Joint Coordination Centre]” of the BSGI. The note also confirmed that the shipment of Russian ammonia through Ukraine’s ports—a key aspect of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by Russia and the UN on 22 July 2022—had not yet begun. Negotiations on exporting Russian ammonia through the Togliatti/Yuznhy pipeline in Ukraine are ongoing. Council members may wish to convene a meeting with UN Coordinator for the BSGI Abdullah Abdul Samad Dashti and UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan. They may choose a private, informal format, such as an informal interactive dialogue, to allow for a frank discussion about the challenges of implementing the BSGI and the MoU.

Council Dynamics

The Security Council remains starkly divided on the situation in Ukraine. Russia continues to justify its invasion, which it refers to as a “special military operation”, while several Council members—including Albania, France, the UK, and the US—condemn Russia for what they consider to be an unprovoked war.

At the 13 and 17 January briefings, four of the five members that started their two-year Council terms in January—Ecuador, Japan, Malta, and Switzerland—explicitly condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, describing it as a violation of international law and the UN Charter. Mozambique, the other new member, did not do so; during the past year, it has consistently abstained on General Assembly votes condemning Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

At the 13 January briefing, Ecuador expressed regret over the partial application of Article 27(3), which says that on decisions under Chapter VI and under paragraph 3 of Article 52 of the UN Charter, “a party to the dispute shall abstain from voting” at the Security Council. Ecuador also announced that it will assume the role of co-penholder on humanitarian issues, together with France—a role previously held by Council member Mexico, which ended its Council term in 2022.

Japan condemned the transfer of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from Iran to Russia, joining the P3 (France, the UK, and the US) in expressing support for a UN investigation into a possible violation by Iran of resolution 2231 of 20 July 2015, which endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on Iran’s nuclear programme.

Switzerland—along with the majority of Council members—emphasised the need for a recommitment to dialogue and diplomacy in search of a peaceful settlement to the war. In this regard, the United Arab Emirates urged the international community to encourage the parties to meet at the negotiating table, including by providing “incentives in the form of a post-war vision that is just and sustainable”.

Security Council Meeting Records
17 January 2023S/PV.9245This was an open briefing on Ukraine requested by Russia.
13 January 2023S/PV.9243This was an open briefing on Ukraine requested by Albania and the US.

Sign up for SCR emails
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Zonia Mosciski DO

Last Updated: 03/26/2023

Views: 6383

Rating: 4 / 5 (51 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Zonia Mosciski DO

Birthday: 1996-05-16

Address: Suite 228 919 Deana Ford, Lake Meridithberg, NE 60017-4257

Phone: +2613987384138

Job: Chief Retail Officer

Hobby: Tai chi, Dowsing, Poi, Letterboxing, Watching movies, Video gaming, Singing

Introduction: My name is Zonia Mosciski DO, I am a enchanting, joyous, lovely, successful, hilarious, tender, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.