I thank the briefers for their valuable inputs. Norway also expresses its utmost support to you, Secretary-General to make full use of your good offices in the search for a peaceful solution.
I want to thank President Zelenskyy, through you Ambassador, for his strong testimony this morning. And for the heroic fight you and the Ukrainian people are engaged in - for your country and for the peace and freedom of us all. We are with you - and we support you.
As we heard from President Zelenskyy, and have seen this weekend, the need for peace could not be more urgent. For more than 40 days and nights, attacks from Russia have continued to batter the Ukrainian people and their cities - causing death and destruction. And the suffering is escalating.
We too are appalled by the reports coming out of the areas around Kyiv and other regions. We are deeply shocked by the atrocities committed against civilians in places that have been held by Russian forces, including Bucha. The images are distressing - dead bodies on the road and in mass graves. Homes, schools, hospitals, and other civilian infrastructure destroyed and reportedly left mined.
Russia is desperate to hide the truth about the war. But atrocities must be investigated; and those responsible must be brought to justice.
In this respect, we welcome the establishment by the Human Rights Council of a Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine – to investigate all alleged violations of international humanitarian law, and human rights law. And we also welcome that the ICC has opened an investigation into the situation in Ukraine.
We urge Russia, and everyone holding evidence to fully cooperate with these investigations. We cannot allow there to be impunity for war crimes being committed in Ukraine.
The world is watching.
Russia’s unprovoked and illegal war against Ukraine - a free and sovereign country - is also an attack on democratic values, and on freedom. It is a blatant violation of international law, and the very principles of the UN Charter.
And as the Secretary-General underlined this morning; this Council has a responsibility. We must do everything in our power to end the war and to mitigate its impact.
Let me repeat the message Prime Minister Støre gave to President Putin when they spoke on Thursday. He urged him to cease the hostilities, and emphasised that Russia must ensure rapid, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access to the civilian population - particularly in Mariupol. He stressed also the need to find a negotiated solution to end the war.
The suffering is widespread. Russia’s war is causing the largest humanitarian crisis in Europe since WWII. A quarter of the Ukrainian population has now been displaced. And cluster munition will continue to maim and kill long after conflict has ended.
The re-construction - when it comes - will take years. Ukraine has been set back decades in its economic development. And the consequences of this war will be felt by generations of Ukrainians.
Russia’s war is also being felt globally. Exacerbating other humanitarian crises; and causing a serious negative effect on the agricultural sector - with a global rise in food insecurity, and increased prices of fuel and fertilizers.
President, before concluding, let me be very clear: Russia must abide by international law. It must comply with the order of the International Court of Justice to immediately suspend its military operations, and to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
The killing and destruction must end.
Russia must stop its illegal war.