Members of the UN Security Council consider Russia’s actions aimed at destroying the cultural heritage of Ukrainians

On July 15, the UN Security Council held an Arria-formula meeting that was themed: “Destruction of cultural heritage as a consequence of Russian aggression against Ukraine.” The meeting was attended by permanent representatives of countries to the UN and representatives of UNESCO and the International Council of Monuments and Outstanding Places (ICOMOS), who recently visited Ukraine.

This was reported by the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy website.

“As of today, the Russians have committed 423 crimes against our cultural heritage. They aim at our heritage on purpose. Each speaker expressed their own vision of the war in Ukraine – and it is the only one – Russia is trying to destroy our identity. All participants (except the Russian Federation, of course) condemned Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, which destroys cultural heritage, our language, our literature, and plunders our museums. This is an attempt to wipe out everything Ukrainian from the face of the Earth. But the whole world understands this, and Russia will not succeed. International organizations should increase pressure on Russia to stop this terrorism against the Ukrainian nation. Only together can we stop the aggressor,” said Oleksandr Tkachenko, Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine.

The meeting was convoked by Albania and Poland in cooperation with Ukraine. It was co-sponsored by council members – Ireland, the United Kingdom, and several non-Council countries.

Kateryna Chuyeva, Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, addressed the international community with a speech, noting: “Russians are purposely destroying cultural heritage objects with shelling throughout Ukraine – from Luhansk region to Lviv region. The entire country’s cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, is now under attack and must be protected for all humanity.” The cultural heritage of the entire country, both tangible and intangible, is now under attack and must be protected for all of humanity.”

She noted that the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy constantly records episodes of damage and destruction of cultural heritage sites and cultural institutions. They include: 128 immovable cultural heritage sites that have the official status of monuments; 147 religious buildings (50 of them are registered as monuments of history, architecture and urban planning or valuable historical buildings); 136 belong to Christian communities (125 – Orthodox, 10 – Protestants, 2 – Catholics), 4 to Islamic communities, 6 to Jewish communities. 46 memorial monuments in honor of historical figures and events of the 19th – early 21st centuries, 33 museums and reserves, 59 cultural centers, theaters and cinemas, and 40 libraries.

All these damages and destructions, which are the results of the missile attacks, bombing and artillery shelling, were recorded as of now in 15 regions of 27 regions of Ukraine.

Geographically it covers almost all the territory of the country from the Luhansk and Donetsk Regions in the Eastern part of Ukraine to the Lviv Region, near the border of Poland, on the West.

The meeting allowed member states to hear first-hand accounts of damage to cultural properties in Ukraine, particularly the Hryhoriy Skovoroda museum in the Kharkiv region and the Museum of Local Lore in Ivankiv, Kyiv region.

The meeting participants also touched upon other issues related to the war in Ukraine. In particular, concerns about increased missile attacks across the country were voiced. The concept note prepared by the co-organizers of the meeting states that the destruction of cultural heritage in Ukraine “has become an integral element of Russia’s war.”

As a result, international colleagues condemned Russian aggression, recognised Russia’s actions directed against Ukrainian identity, and stressed the need to strengthen joint efforts to protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage from Russian aggression.