Norway is aligned with the statement made by the EU, but allow me some remarks in my national capacity.
The evacuation of 156 people from the Azovstal steel plant is a tiny shaft of light in the brutal and senseless war of choice that the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine. Nevertheless, we remain profoundly alarmed by the situation in Mariupol. People are in dire need of assistance.
Immediate and unimpeded humanitarian access is urgently required to allow for the voluntary safe passage of thousands of civilians and hundreds of wounded out of the city, including from the Azovstal steel plant.
Norway is deeply worried that intensified fighting in eastern Ukraine will lead to new besiegements of entire cities and towns, and that the immense suffering and bloodshed that has engulfed Mariupol may be repeated elsewhere. Nothing can justify the continued assault on civilians.
The cessation of hostilities is urgently needed to stop the human suffering in Ukraine. Russia, as the aggressor, bears prime responsibility for making this happen. We call for a credible political agreement for the protection of civilians.
I want to stress that those committing atrocities must know that their actions will never be forgotten. Acts which may constitute war crimes will be documented and investigated, and individuals at all levels will be held to account.
We are pleased to learn that the International Criminal Court and the Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine by the Human Rights Council will coordinate and work together with others to investigate possible violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law. We should also look at how the recommendations of the recent Moscow Mechanism report can be followed up.
Last week we regrettably were informed that all options to extend the mandate of the OSCE SMM have been exhausted. We must keep in mind that even though the mandate is not extended, it will still take time and resources to close the operation. We urge Russia to commit to ensuring the safety and security of the SMM staff and safeguarding SMM assets throughout the closure of the mission.
We expect a speedy release of those SMM mission members who are still detained. The detentions, intimidation, and disinformation that endanger national mission members must end.
Norway is ready to engage with the CiO, the Secretariat and other participating States to explore alternatives for how the OSCE can continue its engagement in Ukraine in line with existing commitments.