Thank you, Mr. Chair,
Sham referendums have now been conducted in areas of Ukraine temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation. We have seen images and received reports of armed Russian soldiers going door-to-door to collect votes for these so-called "referendums" on joining Russia. We expect Russia, the aggressor, to use the referendums as a pretext to illegally try to annex more parts of Ukraine. Norway vehemently rejects these illegal referendums, which were not authorized by Ukraine. Whatever outcomes Russia has announced, they are contrary to international law and will have no legal effect. They will in no way affect Ukraine’s sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders. No territorial acquisition resulting from use of force will be recognized as lawful. Furthermore, no Russian claim to annex territory can take away Ukraine’s right to defend its own land.
All States, including Russia, have an obligation under Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State and to settle their international disputes by peaceful means. The same obligations lie in the Helsinki Decalogue, to which the Russian Federation has made a formal commitment.
Russia’s announcement of mobilisation of reserve forces is another issue of grave concern. It is an additional dangerous escalation and will lead to increased suffering for people in all parts of Ukraine. Russia’s aggression is detrimental to Russia itself. Thousands of Russian soldiers have already been sent to their death in an unnecessary and illegal war. More Russians will now be sent to Ukraine as “cannon fodder”. Furthermore, Russian citizens are increasingly denied human rights and fundamental freedoms. They are being denied the right to express their opinion about this illegal war. They are even persecuted for calling it a war. A war into which many are now being drafted by force.
Democracy, rule of law and human rights are our best tools for promoting peace between states, orderly transition of power, and accountability at all levels. We must therefore defend these norms and standards, and the values that underpin them.
Russia’s war of aggression is an attack not only against Ukraine, but against these values. The Ukrainian people are paying with their lives to defend these universal values. They are fighting for their freedom and independence. Ukraine can rely on Norway's consistent support. Russia must abide by the order of the International Court of Justice and immediately suspend its military operations in the territory of Ukraine. Russia chose to start this war. It must now choose to stop it.