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

As delivered at the 1482th Permanent Council, 11 July 2024

  1. At the beginning of the week we met to condemn the wave of deadly Russian attacks on several cities across Ukraine, including the capital Kyiv, which claimed the lives of more than 40 Ukrainian civilians and left dozens more injured. The horrific casualty figures and the damage to two hospitals in Kyiv, including the largest children’s hospital in Ukraine, Okhmatdyt, have highlighted Russia’s escalating violations of international humanitarian law and the fundamental principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. Initial assessments by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine indicate that the children's hospital likely suffered a direct hit. Such assessments align with extensively documented patterns of deliberate Russian attacks on civilians and civilian objects in Ukraine, intended to instil fear and maximise the suffering of the Ukrainian people. According to the OHCHR, May was the month with the highest number of civilian casualties in nearly a year. In Kharkiv region alone, attacks by Russian forces resulted in 78 civilians killed and 305 injured between 10 and 31 May.
  2. The situation in the Ukrainian territories, temporarily and illegally occupied by Russia, continues to be of grave concern. The latest 39th report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the human rights situation in Ukraine, covering the period from 1st March to 31st May 2024, provides further evidence of Russia’s widespread violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in these territories, consistent with previous findings. During the reporting period, Russia pursued its policy of forcibly imposing its legal and administrative systems in Ukraine’s temporarily occupied territories, continuously disregarding its international obligations. This included intensifying pressure on the local Ukrainian population to obtain Russian passports, imposing conditions for confiscating private property, and launching yet another military conscription campaign.
  3. The report also documents additional cases of wilful killings, summary executions, arbitrary detentions and deportations by Russian forces, as well as further instances of torture, ill-treatment and sexual violence in detention. One of the main conclusions, as in past OHCHR reports, is that the occupation of Ukrainian territory by Russia has been accompanied by widespread violations of residents’ rights to life, physical and mental integrity, liberty and security.
  4. This conclusion summarises a continuous trend of violations by Russia in Ukrainian territories under its illegal control, dating back to the beginning of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in February 2014. The June ruling of the European Court of Human Rights on the case of Ukraine v. Russia regarding Crimea found Russia responsible for a pattern or system of violations of numerous provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights in Crimea, since February 2014. Moreover, the Court recognised a pattern of retaliatory prosecution and misuse of criminal law by Russia, directed primarily against Ukrainian activists, journalists and Crimean Tatars perceived as supporters of Ukraine, aimed at suppressing political opposition to Russian policies in Crimea.
  5. This ruling is an important milestone in the fight against impunity. The EU remains committed to ensuring Russia and its leadership are held fully accountable for waging a war of aggression against Ukraine and for other most serious crimes under international law, as well as for the massive damage caused by its war.
  6. The situation in the Ukrainian territories illegally and temporarily occupied by Russia mirrors the domestic situation in Russia itself, where the Russian legal system continues to be instrumentalised to serve the Kremlin’s narrow interests. Increasing state control over cultural institutions and the authorities’ attempts to curtail fundamental freedoms are further illustrated by the decision by a Russian court to sentence director Zhenya Berkovich and playwright Svetlana Petriychuk to six years in prison for "justifying terrorism" through their award-winning theatre play “Finist, the Brave Falcon”.
  7. We remain steadfast in our support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. The European Union will continue to unequivocally condemn all attacks by Russia and its strategy of terror, aimed at breaking the resolve of the Ukrainian people. Russia will not succeed. We will continue to stand with Ukraine and its brave and resilient people for as long as it takes, for Ukraine to rightfully defend itself against Russia’s brutal war of aggression and to win the just and lasting peace it deserves. We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to providing continued political, financial, economic, humanitarian, legal, military and diplomatic support to Ukraine and its people, also taking into account the critical importance of accelerated and intensified deliveries of military material based on Ukraine’s urgent needs.
  8. Russia must immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. We condemn the continued military support for Russia’s unprovoked, unjustifiable and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine provided by Belarus, as well as Iran, and the DPRK. We urge all countries, in the OSCE area and beyond, 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.