Let me start by thanking the distinguished US, UK and Ukrainian ambassadors for their precise description of the Russian aggression and atrocities committed and of the situation on the ground in Ukraine. They have described the only truth about what is happening in Ukraine. Norway is also aligned with the statement made by the European Union and stands fully behind its content. Allow me still to make a few remarks in my national capacity.
Let there be no doubt, the safety and security in and around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant has deteriorated because of the presence of an armed aggressor. Russia’s continued illegal war and military presence has increased the risk of a nuclear accident with potentially grave consequences for human health and the environment, both in Ukraine and elsewhere.
The Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency has outlined seven indispensable pillars for nuclear safety and security, which we fully endorse. However, we note with great distress that almost all of them seems to be violated because of Russian aggression.
We reiterate the Director General’s call for maximum military restraint in the area of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
We emphasize the importance of facilitating a mission from the IAEA to carry out essential safety, security, and safeguards activities, while fully respecting Ukrainian sovereignty. In this regard, we note recent statements indicating that both Ukraine and Russia support the IAEA’s aim to send a mission to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
We remain concerned that Russia’s seizure of a nuclear power plant in Ukraine is also a means of taking control over a central source of electricity supply that is important to the civilian population of Ukraine.
We call on Russia to return full control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant to the Ukrainian operator. One clear line of Ukrainian operational control and responsibility is vital.
And, on the same topic, we commend Ukraine for its commitment and dedication to ensuring continued nuclear safety and security under severe circumstances.
As this war in Ukraine continues, it inflicts a terrible, cumulative, harm on the civilian population, undermining prospects for peace and security. The Russian invasion and incomprehensible violence have created wounds that will take generations to heal.
Russian attacks against civilians, and civilian infrastructure, have continued and intensified in many areas across Ukraine.
Recent attacks in Kharkiv, Kramatorsk, Voznesensk and Zaporizhzhia, have left scores of civilians injured or killed. And people all over Ukraine, including in Kyiv, continue to live in daily fear of the next attack.
We reiterate our demand that civilians must be protected, and international humanitarian law and international human rights law be fully respected and implemented.
The Russian aggressors’ callous disregard for human life continues to shock the international community.
We are deeply concerned by reports that Russian forces have tortured prisoners of war, and unlawfully detained, tortured, and enforced the disappearance of civilians in occupied areas.
There are ample indications of war crimes being committed.
These crimes cannot be forgotten.
Perpetrators at all levels must be held to account.
Like others have pointed out before me, we are now six months into Russia’s illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. It is indeed a sombre milestone on the same day as we honour Ukraine’s Independence Day.
Distinguished Ukrainian colleagues, it is bizarre to have this special permanent council, on your National Day, which marks your declaration of independence from the USSR in 1991. And here we are, 31 years later, because the successor state Russia has invaded your country.
Rest assured that Norway stands with Ukraine, and we reiterate our full support for and solidarity with the people of Ukraine, and our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders and territorial waters.
We call on Russia to stop its illegal attack on Ukraine immediately and withdraw its forces.