Baltic statement at veto initiative debate on non-proliferation

UNGA78 Meeting on the Use of the Veto

Statement delivered by H.E. Mr. Rein Tammsaar, Permanent Representative of Estonia on behalf of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

6 May 2024, New York

Mister/Madame President,

I am delivering this statement on behalf of the Baltic States – Latvia, Lithuania and my own country Estonia. We align ourselves with the statement by the European Union.

Mister/Madame President,

We regret that we have to convene in the UN General Assembly for the second time within a month to discuss yet another Russian veto. The resolution put forward by the US and Japan was intended to contribute to the peaceful use of outer space, bolster global stability and security with a special focus on non-proliferation of the nuclear weapons to outer space, in accordance with the Outer Space Treaty which Russia has joined. It was supported by an overwhelming majority of 13 Members of the UN Security Council and further co-sponsored by 65 Member States, including our countries.

Russia used its veto in complete isolation and in stark contrast to the interests of the global community. One can only speculate why the Russian Federation chose to veto a resolution promoting the continued peaceful uses of space. Reportedly, Russia plans to continue preparations and tests to deploy nuclear weapons in outer space. Russian incursions in space don’t tend to have a happy ending for themselves, as the notorious Soviet attempt to weaponize the space contributed to the collapse of the Soviet empire. In any case, Russia’s veto is absolutely irresponsible, dangerous behavior, leading to further erosion of the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, along with seriously undermining global peace and security.

Mister/Madame President,

We urge the global community not to view this Russian veto in isolation. Russia’s use of veto to protect their own interest and chronic inconsistencies between their words and actions provide a sinister track record. Let me highlight some examples:

First, Russia claims that its aggression against Ukraine is an act of self-defense aimed to save civilians. In reality, Russia continues its aggression while occupying 18% of Ukrainian territory in complete disregard of the sacrosanct UN Charter. Moreover, Russia carries on systematic bombings of the civilians they claim to save. Consequences are harrowing – the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has verified over 10 500 civilian deaths and over 20 thousand injuries. 40% of Ukrainian population are in need of humanitarian aid and up to third of the population has been displaced.

Second, Russia claims that its blocking of the extension of the mandate of the Panel of Experts for the UN Security Council’s 1718 Committee on the DPRK was caused by the lack of quality in panel’s work while vehemently denying growing military cooperation between Russia and the DPRK. In reality, the Panel of Experts confirmed not only numerous sea transfers between the two countries in violation with the UNSC resolutions, but also documented debris of DPRK’s missiles used by Russia in Ukraine;

Last but not least, Russia claims to remain duty-bound for its obligations under the international law and outer space treaty. At the same time there are credible reports that Russia tested a direct-ascent anti-satellite missile that struck a Russian satellite and created a debris field in low-Earth orbit already in 2021. Furthermore, during the past year Russia has moved from selectively implementing its arms control obligations to complete violation of near all of them. Russia withdrew from the Treaty on Conventional Arms Forces in Europe and revoked its ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Latest reports of Russia’s use of chemical weapons in combat operations in Ukraine violating the Convention of Chemical Weapons just completes the picture.

Today, Russia continued its dangerous and irresponsible nuclear saber-rattling by announcing drills simulating the use of tactical nuclear weapons. The increasingly heavy track record of Russia’s utter disregard to its international commitments along with systematic and widespread actions undermining the principles of the UN Charter are not compatible with Russia´s obligations as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council.

Mister/Madame President,

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are determined to contribute to the global efforts to strengthen the international law and multilateralism with the UN at its core, including through strict implementation of existing disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation instruments. We fully respect the core principles of the Outer Space Treaty and continue to stand for the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, including through upholding the prohibition on the placement of nuclear weapons in outer space and opposing development of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction specifically designed to be placed in outer space.

Thank you