I thank the briefers for their statements. Let me also use this opportunity to thank all personnel at the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. They contribute on a daily basis to reducing tensions and fostering peace, stability and security on the ground.
The threatening security situation in and around Ukraine is alarming. Norway is deeply concerned by the Russian Federation’s large-scale military build-up – in occupied Crimea, to the north, east and south of Ukraine, as well as in Belarus and the Black Sea. The alleged reports of increased shelling are most disturbing. They must not be used as a pretext for any military action.
Norway calls on Russia to de-escalate and to engage in dialogue, constructively and in good faith, through established international mechanisms.
It remains a major obstacle that Russia falsely seeks to portray the conflict in Eastern Ukraine as an internal, Ukrainian conflict. The reality is that Russia has fuelled the conflict by providing financial and military support to the armed formations it backs.
Norway expresses strong concern regarding the resolution of the Russian State Duma calling for the recognition of the self-proclaimed “People’s Republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk. We warn against such a step, which would constitute a further violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and directly contradict the spirit and the letter of the Minsk agreements.
Norway supports the negotiations in the Normandy Format and in the Trilateral Contact Group, aimed at ending the conflict through a political settlement and implementation of the Minsk agreements. Norway calls on the parties to uphold their commitments and to engage constructively towards resolving the conflict by peaceful means.
We welcome the OSCE Chairmanship’s Renewed European Security Dialogue initiative. We encourage Russia to engage in this format. We also urge Russia to respect its commitments under the Vienna Document and contribute to a constructive dialogue and exchange under Chapter III.
Norway upholds a European security order based on international law and national sovereignty and territorial integrity. These principles have repeatedly been invoked by Russia in Council discussions. Norway calls on Russia to respect these principles when it comes to Ukraine.
Through threatening posture, rhetoric and unrealistic demands, Russia is challenging European security. Every country has the right to freely choose its security alignment. We cannot allow the established security architecture to be replaced by spheres of influence.
We are concerned that the ceasefire in Donbas from July 2020 has become increasingly fragile. We call on the parties to seek a durable ceasefire and do their utmost to prevent civilian casualties.
The humanitarian situation is severe after eight years of conflict. Civilians are increasingly losing access to essential, lifesaving services, as civilian infrastructure is damaged and destroyed. Any escalation of the conflict would lead to devastating humanitarian consequences.
Let me conclude by reiterating Norway’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders in accordance with the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. This includes the Crimean Peninsula and its territorial waters.