Statement on the Russian Federation’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine

As delivered by Minister Counsellor Henrik Malvik at the 1435th Special Meeting of the Permanent Council, Vienna, 25 July 2023.

Thank you Mr. Chair and thank you for calling this topical Special Meeting of the Permanent Council.

Mr. Chair,

Only days after President Vladimir Putin pulled Russia out of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, Russian forces unleashed a hail of bombs, missiles and drones on the city of Odesa, damaging critical port infrastructure, including grain and oil terminals.

The relentless attacks on Odesa are causing suffering and distress to the Ukrainian people, compounding global famine and destroying cultural heritage.

The Russian Federation continues to show disregard for the safety and security of millions of civilians as it perpetuates its assault on Ukraine. We call on Russia to immediately stop all attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure. International Humanitarian Law is clear: civilians and civil infrastructure are not a target.

On Sunday, Russian missiles badly damaged dozens of Ukrainian architectural landmarks, including the Transfiguration Cathedral, one of the biggest, most important Orthodox cathedrals in Odesa. This is yet another attack in an area protected under the World Heritage Convention and in violation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.

We call on Russia to comply with its obligations under international law, including with regard to the protection of cultural property during armed conflict. Intentional destruction of cultural sites may amount to a war crime.

Furthermore, Russia is starving Ukraine of its economic vitality and the world of its food supply through what is effectively a blockade of the Black Sea. According to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine, the bombardment has crippled significant parts of the export facilities in the ports of Odesa and nearby Chornomorsk and destroyed 60,000 tons of grain.

Russia bears full responsibility for deepening the global food crisis. It must stop its aggression and return to the Black Sea Grain Initiative.

Mr. Chair,

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.

Thank you.