Dear media, I welcome you to our briefing. Today, I will cover a number of important issues regarding Russian aggression against Ukraine, but also regional and global developments.
The first topic is Russia’s latest disinformation campaign accusing Ukraine of preparing to use a “dirty bomb”. I will say it again, this is a lie.
Ukraine is a dedicated and responsible member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. We have never had, do not have, and do not plan to develop any dirty bombs. We gave up nuclear weapons in 1994 and do not plan to acquire any. This is all obvious, but it needs to be repeated.
We will also not allow Russia to spread its propaganda on the matter. Since this Sunday, when Russian officials started disseminating these unfounded allegations, Ukraine has worked actively to counter the Russian disinformation campaign.
President Zelensky has categorically denied Russian false allegations. I have spoken to my American, EU, French, Estonian and other counterparts on the matter. Yesterday morning, I spoke to Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi and invited the agency’s experts to immediately arrive to Ukraine where they will be able to inspect all of our peaceful facilities which Russia falsely claims to be places of a dirty bomb development.
I appreciate Mr. Grossi’s prompt response. He agreed to send such a mission without delay. Experts are expected to arrive shortly. They will have full access and I am sure we will be able to swiftly refute all Russian falsehoods. Ukraine has always been and remains transparent. I call on Russia to demonstrate the same transparency.
I am grateful to IAEA and our partners for their excellent cooperation. Thanks to our joint and prompt actions, the Russian disinformation campaign on the ‘dirty bomb’ already fails. I would also like to specifically address nations of the Global South: Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Friends, Ukraine has never had or planned to develop any ‘dirty bombs’. This story is a pure Russian lie and no one should be fooled by it. We will not only refute it, we have invited international monitors to prove Russian allegations false, because we have nothing to hide.
What is even more concerning is the persistence with which Russian officials pursue this false story. This makes us worried that Russia might itself be preparing to commit a crime which it tries to cover in advance by spreading this disinformation. We work actively with partners not only to counter Russian lies, but also to avert any possible Russian false flag operations. As President Zelensky said, even the dangerous Russian rhetoric on nuclear weapons and the constant nuclear blackmail which we hear from Russia are unacceptable. They must be met with immediate and resolute actions. Russia must see that the world will not allow its nuclear blackmail to proceed.
Now on the issue of global food security. Ukraine remains fully committed to the Black Sea Grain Initiative. We want it to keep working and expand functioning. We want all of our grain exports to be able to reach foreign customers as promptly as possible. We are interested in Ukrainian grain maintaining food security, especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Since the grain initiative facilitated by the UN and Turkiye started working in July and until October 23rd, the overall volume of grains exported from Ukrainian seaports has reached over 8,5 million tons. Seven hundred sixty-five vessels have moved through the corridor. 386 arrived at Ukrainian ports and 379 have departed to foreign customers loaded with grains.
Over two-thirds of them went to African and Asian markets, with one-third going to Europe. Russia lies when it claims that most of Ukrainian grain exports went to Europe. We have warned that by making such false statements Russia tries to undermine the Black Sea Grain Initiative. And this is exactly what they are doing.
We have heard Russian diplomats putting forward some new demands and conditions for the initiative to maintain functioning. Russians threaten their withdrawal from the agreement in order to gain some political preferences. They are ready to resume their hunger games with the world and they don’t care if this means insecurity for thousands of families in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. I want to remind everyone that Ukraine does not put forward any additional demands. We have always been and remain fully committed to the Black Sea Grain Initiative and want it to keep functioning and expand.
We now see that Russia deliberately delays operations of the grain corridor. Starting from October 14th, Russian inspectors assigned to the Istanbul Joint Coordination Center have been significantly prolonging the inspection of vessels. More than 165 of them have been stuck in a queue near the Bosporus Strait, and this number continues to grow daily. These actions are politically motivated. These delays have already prevented Ukraine from exporting an additional 3 million tons of grain. 10 million people across the world have not received food in time because of Russia’s renewed hunger games with the world.
I once again call on the international community, in particular African and Asian states who rely on Ukraine’s grain exports, to demand that Russia immediately stops these artificial delays in the inspections of the grain corridor vessels.
Ukraine has also requested the Secretariat of the Joint Coordination Center to urgently address Russia’s delays, including by increasing the number of inspectors in the Bosporus Strait.
We remain committed to continue working closely with the United Nations and Türkiye in order to ensure the unimpeded functioning of the Black Sea grain corridor.
Now to one more issue in the Middle East. The attack on the al-Dhabba oil terminal in Yemen’s Hadramawt on October 21st. Ukraine condemns this attack. We consider it a flagrant violation of international law and norms.
We noted the statement of the Yemeni Foreign Minister stating that two Iranian-made UAVs hit this oil facility. Iranian drones are increasingly becoming instruments for terrorist attacks against civilian and energy infrastructure. Russia launches dozens of Iranian-made UAVs daily to destroy the Ukrainian energy system and kill civilians.
We call on Iran to stop providing Russia with weapons used in the war against Ukraine. We also urge the international community to take resolute and united actions to prevent further proliferation of Iranian weapons among terrorist entities and regimes, including Russia.
There is also a great concern over what Iran receives or demands from its associates in exchange for supplying UAVs and other weapons. The international community should not take this security risk lightly.
Russia is losing ground on the battlefield in Ukraine and suffers one defeat after another. But instead of fighting our army, Russian terrorists chose to wage a war of terror against civilians. In October, Russia has intensified its missile and drone terror against Ukraine. Russian attacks are aimed specifically at our critical civilian infrastructure. Multiple strikes have caused blackouts, heat and water supply disruption. Russian terror has worsened the humanitarian situation in the country and damaged around 40% of our energy system.
Russians don’t even hide their intentions. Russian officials and talking heads on national TV openly admit that their aim is to freeze Ukrainian cities to death.
First of all, this means that Russians have not understood anything about Ukraine. These strikes do not and will not weaken the Ukrainian resolve. They only make us more determined to defeat the Russian terrorist regime and its invading forces.
Deliberate Russian strikes on Ukrainian critical civilian infrastructure are war crimes. Given their systemic nature and accompanying messages of Russian propaganda and officials, these strikes must be considered as part of Russia’s genociede of the Ukrainian people. The 1948 Genocide Convention is clear on this: deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part is genocide.
Deliberate Russian strikes on the Ukrainian energy system are also part of Russia’s broader war on Europe. Ukraine is an exporter of electricity to the EU. Because of Russian terror we had to temporarily suspend exports to cover our own needs. As I said before, Russia attacked not only Ukraine. Putin deliberately wants to ruin the stability and well-being of every European household. The only way to stop him is to provide maximum support to Ukraine now so that we defeat Russia and spare European governments the need to fight Russians themselves at a later stage.
To protect our cities and save the lives of civilians, Ukraine urgently needs more air defense and missile defense systems, as well as a sustainable supply of relevant ammunition. We work actively with partners and we are already receiving support. But of course given the scale of our country and the scale of Russian terror, we need more air defense systems and ammuniation and we need it urgently. I once again renew my call on all governments which have relevant systems to provide them to Ukraine as soon as possible. Instead of being in the warehouses, they can be saving human lives already today.
Last but not least, there is a very specific step which foreign countries can take to politically support Ukraine.
On November 26th Ukraine will honor the memory of millions of innocent victims of the Holodomor. Ninety years ago, in 1932-1933, the Soviet regime led by Stalin used artificial famine to starve millions of Ukrainians to death. This genocide, known as the Holodomor, was a horrible crime. Soviet authorities took all food away from Ukrainian peasants and cordoned starving villages with police and military preventing starving people from fleeing to other places. Millions of people died of hunger on fertile Ukrainian soil. By committing this genocide Stalin wanted to destroy the Ukrainian people in order to solidify his totalitarian regime.
We call on parliaments of all nations to support Ukraine today by taking a simple political step and voting in favor of recognizing the Holodomor, Stalin’s 1932-1933 artificial famine, as genocide of the Ukrainian people.
Recognition of the Holodomor is of crucial importance especially now, when Russia commits another genocide of Ukrainians. As a famous Ukrainian saying goes, ‘An unpunished evil grows stronger with time’. We must punish evil for all of its previous and current crimes.
Now I stand ready to answer some of your questions.
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