EU Statement on the Russian Federation’s ongoing aggression against Ukraine

As delivered at the 1477th Permanent Council, 6 June 2024

  1. Russia’s escalation of hostilities in Kharkiv and other parts of Ukraine continues unabated. On the night of 31st May, Russian missiles hit a residential neighbourhood in Kharkiv, killing at least nine people and injuring 25 more. During the attack Russia again resorted to repeated strikes in the same area, which affected rescue efforts. On 1st June, Russia undertook its sixth major attack on the Ukrainian power grid since March, damaging energy facilities and critical infrastructure in the eastern, central and western parts of Ukraine. On the same day, Russia targeted a small settlement in the Kharkiv region, injuring at least thirteen people, including eight children. All such attacks on Ukrainian civilians and civilian objects are a clear indication of Russia’s intention to sustain its illegal, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of aggression at any human cost, in blatant violation of international law and the OSCE acquis.

  2. On 1st June, the International Day for the Protection of Children, our thoughts were with all children who continue to suffer the devastating consequences of Russia's war of aggression.

  3. OHCHR has confirmed that over 600 Ukrainian children have been killed and more than 1,420 injured, following two years of brutal Russian attacks. Moreover, we have witnessed an alarming increase in the first three months of this year. The numbers of killed and injured children are likely much higher.

  4. The continuing hostilities are also negatively impacting the psychological and emotional well-being and the educational opportunities of Ukrainian children, leading to what UNICEF describes as a mental health crisis and a learning crisis.

  5. Moreover, the Moscow Mechanism reports of May 2023 and April 2024, as well as OHCHR and ODIHR reports, document that Ukrainian children are victims of numerous grave violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, committed by Russia and supported by Belarus. According to initial estimates by Ukrainian authorities, Russia has deported or forcibly transferred more than 20,000 Ukrainian children, subjecting them to numerous and overlapping violations of their rights, including the rights to family and identity. Children in the Ukrainian territories temporarily and illegally occupied by Russia are also victims of numerous other violations, including arbitrary detentions and even torture. They are also the target of Russian re-education and indoctrination policies, as well as militarisation. The ICC arrest warrants against Russian officials, in connection with their role in committing alleged crimes of unlawful deportation and transfer of children in the context of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, have sent the clear message that there will be no escape for any perpetrators and accomplices of Russia’s crimes in Ukraine.

  6. We demand that Russia immediately cease all unlawful practices and comply with its international obligations, including by facilitating the safe return of all forcibly transferred or deported children to their true homes. In this context, we welcome the activities of the ICRC’s “Central Tracing Agency Bureau” (CTA) and the successful return of a number of children.

  7. Given the severe impact of armed conflict on the mental health of children and youth, we welcome the Resolution adopted on 28th May by the World Health Assembly on strengthening mental health and psychosocial support before, during and after armed conflicts, disasters and other emergencies. We also commend the new project under the OSCE Support Programme for Ukraine on providing psychological support and social protection to children.

  8. Last week, we convened to discuss the economic and environmental impacts of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. Today, which marks exactly one year since Russia destroyed the Kakhovka Dam, presents another opportunity for addressing this important topic. The breach of this dam has had long-lasting negative impacts on virtually all sectors of Ukraine’s economy. It is a long-term environ­mental catastrophe with regional and global implications, with some of the ecological impacts assessed as irreversible by the Post Disaster Needs Assessment Report. In response to this catastrophe, the EU mobilised immediate assistance to Ukraine, deploying mobile water treatment stations, providing in-kind life-saving assistance and mobilising additional financing to support humanitarian operations on the ground. It also carried out an Environmental Impact Analysis of the Dam Breach.

  9. In light of the increasing importance of the reconstruction efforts for Ukraine’s future, we welcome the International Conference “Towards the Recovery of the Culture Sector of Ukraine”, to be hosted in Vilnius by Lithuania in close cooperation with Ukraine and in partnership with UNESCO on 7 June 2024, which aims to raise awareness about the impact of Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine’s culture sector and consolidate international support for stabilisation and recovery of Ukraine. It will contribute to the upcoming Ukraine Recovery Conference, to be hosted by Germany on 11-12 June 2024, which will focus on reconstruction, reforms and investment in Ukraine, and on further mobilising the private sector in reconstruction efforts, including for social and human reconstruction.

  10. We are more steadfast than ever in our support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. We are determined to continue providing Ukraine and its people with all the necessary political, financial, economic, humanitarian, legal, military and diplomatic support for as long as it takes and as intensely as needed, also taking into account the critical importance of accelerated and intensified deliveries of military material based on Ukraine’s urgent needs. Work is ongoing on directing extraordinary revenues stemming from Russia’s immobilised assets for the benefit of Ukraine, particularly with a view to addressing its most immediate military needs, notably through the European Peace Facility.

  11. We will continue intensive global outreach efforts and cooperation with Ukraine and other partners to ensure the widest possible participation in the upcoming ‘Summit on peace in Ukraine’ convened by Switzerland on 15-16 June 2024. Our goal is to secure international support for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, as well as the implementation of the key principles and objectives of Ukraine’s Peace Formula, based on the UN Charter and its principles, notably respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of States. No matter how hard Russia tries to disrupt these efforts, it cannot rewrite the UN Charter and the OSCE’s founding documents, including the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris.

  12. In conclusion, we once again demand that Russia immediately end its illegal, unprovoked and unjustifiable war of aggression against Ukraine, and completely and unconditionally withdraw all its forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. We also condemn the continued military support for Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine provided by Belarus, as well as Iran and the DPRK. We urge all countries not to provide material or other support for Russia’s war of aggression, which is a blatant violation of international law, including the UN Charter, and the OSCE’s core principles and commitments.