Statement on the Russian Federation's Ongoing Aggression Against Ukraine

As delivered by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, at the Reinforced Permanent Council, Vienna, 23 February 2024

10 years ago, one OSCE participating State invaded another when Russia illegally annexed Crimea. The OSCE then quickly agreed on establishing the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine – the SMM.

This mission was established by consensus and lasted for eight years. It was of great help to those who lived near the line of contact. SMM helped document what happened. Their reports provided a meticulous documentation of gradually escalating Russian aggression.

Two years ago, Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with devastating humanitarian consequences. Russia’s continued aggression has destroyed or changed the lives of millions of people. Many of them are today in acute need of assistance. The level of death and destruction caused by Russia is almost beyond comprehension. 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The OSCE was created in trust, as a robust arena for dialogue and cooperation in order to increase our common security. An organization with autonomous institutions with solid mandates – still valid and relevant. The OSCE was created for European security dialogue. The participating States agreed on common norms. We agreed to hold each other accountable and to live up to the Helsinki Charter.

Russia has ignored that agreement. Today, the rest of us must do everything we can to support the independent, sovereign state of Ukraine. Russia is the aggressor, abetted by Belarus, while Ukraine is defending itself. Ukrainians have shown strong resistance and impressive resilience in their fight for continued freedom and independence. Their actions prove beyond anything that Ukraine is not an appendix to Russia.

Russia has broken all the 10 commitments in the Helsinki decalogue. Russia chose not to utilize the tools created by the OSCE to cope with conflicts. Instead, Russia is misusing the consensus to block initiatives at the expense of the interest of other Participating States.

The OSCE is still able to cope with the situation. Many participating States have initiated the Moscow Mechanism to document consequences of the warfare. We will continue to support Ukraine in holding Russia to account, in documenting war crimes, and to assist Ukrainian authorities in handling other consequences of war, including the crime of illegally deporting children.

It didn’t have to be like this. If all participating States had lived up to their OSCE commitments, none of us would have to fear an attack from another.

So, Russia, live up to your commitments! Bring this unprovoked, unjustifiable, and illegal war of aggression to an end. And release the three OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Officials. They have been in captivity for 500 days.

Let me reaffirm Norway’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

We will continue to stand with Ukraine and its brave and resilient people for as long as it takes to win a just and lasting peace.