Norway on Russia's Continued Aggression Against Ukraine

As delivered by Ambassador Anne-Kirsti Karlsen at the Permanent Council, Vienna, 24 March 2022.

Thank you,

Norway is aligned with the statement made by the EU but allow me some remarks in my national capacity.

Let me start with thanking Chief Monitor Çevik for his briefing to the Permanent council. I commend you and your team for your tireless efforts in relocating the SMM monitors and other staff. We continue to admire the professionalism, dedication, and courage with which the SMM staff have carried out their mandated tasks. We still see a role for the SMM in Ukraine. Producing facts about the situation on the ground, in an impartial and transparent manner, as the SMM has done for the past eight years, still matters. In the current situation we should make use of SMM’s assets on the ground and the SMM’s broad experience and comparative advantages, for instance to help mitigate the growing humanitarian crisis. We also foresee a role for the SMM when Russian forces are withdrawn from Ukraine and ceasefires again shall be monitored. We stand ready to extend the mandate of the SMM.

Mr. Chairman,

Russia has presented a number of lies as pretexts for this war, and it never seems to stop. The truth is; nothing happened in Ukraine to legitimize an attack by the Russian Federation.  However, Russian authorities do everything in their power to hide the truth from their population.

These lies are designed to draw attention away from Russia’s role as aggressor in the illegal invasion of Ukraine and to draw attention away from the long list of alleged war crimes committed by Russia, which is growing by the hour.

Access to information is essential to the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, not least in times of war.

We strongly condemn Russia for passing the draconian law threatening 15 years imprisonment for spreading so-called "fake" news about the military, silencing its own citizens and independent media actors. This law violates citizens’ right to the freedom of information and prevents journalists and media workers from carrying out their vital, independent work.

Several independent media outlets have been permanently closed, with international media suspending their operations in Russia due to this new legislation that criminalizes anybody who shares what Russian authorities or courts might choose to define as “fake news.” The hostile media environment was further demonstrated recently when the social media platforms Instagram and Facebook were declared “extremist”.

The level of censorship has reached an absurd level now that the Russian authorities prohibit media from using the word “war” about the war.

This obsessive clampdown on information is revealing: It shows to what extent the Russian authorities fear the reaction of the Russian public if it were to know the truth about the atrocities being committed by the Russian armed forces.

Mr. Chairman,

Russia’s illegal war against a fellow OSCE participating State constitutes a clear violation of the prohibition on the use of force in the UN Charter, and of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Indeed, Russia’s war is a blatant attack on the fundamental obligations and principles of international law.

Last week, the International Court of Justice confirmed this and explicitly ordered Russia to stop its so-called “military operation”. An investigation has also been opened by the ICC prosecutor. War crimes are being documented in different processes including through the Moscow mechanism. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that there will be no impunity for war crimes and that perpetrators will be brought to justice.

Mr. Chairman,

President Putin’s illegal war against Ukraine has serious consequences for the Russian people.

We commend the bravery of those Russians who continue to demonstrate against the war. We know they do this at great personal risk.

Mr. Chairman,

Norway condemns Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. We reiterate our call on Russia to withdraw its troops immediately, and stop causing further death, suffering and destruction.

I ask that this Statement be attached to the Journal of the Day.