As Russian Invasion of Ukraine Continues, Prospects for Peace Remain Dim

Politically Speaking
3 min readFeb 23, 2024

As the General Assembly and Security Council prepare to hold meetings on 23 February 2024 marking two years since the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine, Politically Speaking takes a look back over the events that defined the last 12 months, in a conflict that has already claimed the lives of over 10,000 civilians.

The war in Ukraine is inflicting a heavy toll on both the country’s people and infrastructure. Photo credit: UNDP/Oleksandr Ratushniak

“Another year has passed, and we are no closer to the end of this illegal and unjustified war. Instead, Ukrainians are mourning thousands more of their loved ones, millions remain displaced and more of the country has been laid waste. In just over two weeks, we will enter the third year of the war. With each passing day, the damage the conflict has done — and is doing — to Ukraine but also to global peace and security as well as international law becomes increasingly clear. Only a solution in line with the UN Charter, international law and UN General Assembly resolutions will achieve a just and lasting peace.”

— Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo, addressing the Security Council on 6 February, 2024.

I n 2023, as the war in Ukraine entered its second year, the Security Council held 40 meetings to address the ongoing conflict. There have been three further meetings so far in 2024. The 15 members of the Council have been unable to speak with a single voice on the situation. They continued to discuss the multifaceted impacts of the war, ranging from the mounting civilian death toll and its implications for global food security, to the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure, including the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam.

Over the course of 2023 and into 2024, the Council looked at the repercussions of Moscow’s military operations on civilian populations, as well as Western arms transfers to Ukraine. On 21 February, the Council discussed the fallout of the Nord Stream pipeline explosions. On 27 March, the Council rejected a resolution to establish an independent investigation into the destruction of the Nord Stream pipeline.

In July, the Russian Federation withdrew from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, a move that Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he deeply regretted. Speaking to journalists in New York, he said that the decision “will strike a blow to people in need everywhere.”

In the wake of the Grain Deal, Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo denounced Moscow’s assaults on Ukrainian ports, highlighting their significant repercussions on global food insecurity.

On Monday, when speaking to this Council, I reiterated the Secretary-General’s deep regret over the decision by the Russian Federation to terminate its participation in the Black Sea Initiative — including the withdrawal of Russian security guarantees for navigation in the north-western part of the Black Sea.As a result, food prices are rising around the globe … We have now witnessed a further blow to global food security, as Russia for the fourth consecutive day struck Ukraine’s Black Sea ports in Odesa, Chornomorsk and Mykolaiv with missiles and drones, destroying critical port infrastructure, facilities and grain supplies. These attacks have also resulted in civilian casualties.

— Under-Secretary-General DiCarlo, addressing the Council on 21 July 2023

Rosemary DiCarlo, Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, addresses the Security Council meeting on maintenance of peace and security of Ukraine, 21 July, 2023. UN Photo/Manuel Elías

As 2023 drew to a close, figures released by OHCHR confirmed that the recorded civilian death toll in Ukraine had exceeded 10,000. In his briefing to the Council on 21 November, Assistant-Secretary-General Miroslav Jenca called it “a new grim milestone.”

Over the last 12 months, despite concerted efforts to address the wide-ranging fallout of the war, achieving consensus among Council members has proven challenging. In addition, the end of the Black Sea Grain Initiative has heightened concerns over global food security. All of this only highlights the need for continued diplomatic efforts to bring the conflict to an end, not only for Ukraine but for those around the world who feel its brutal impact.

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Politically Speaking

The online magazine of the United Nations Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs