EU Statement on the Russian Federation's ongoing aggression against Ukraine
As delivered at the 1460th Permanent Council, Vienna, 8 February 2024
Each day since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine has brought new evidence of Russia’s gross violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law, with Russia recurrently and deliberately targeting cities and civilian infrastructure across Ukraine in addition to continued indiscriminate shelling near the frontlines. The intensification of Russia’s campaign of systematic air strikes on Ukrainian cities since the start of the year is yet another manifestation of Russia‘s blatant disregard for human life and for international law.
Against this backdrop the first visit in the OSCE area by Malta’s OSCE CiO, Foreign Minister Borg, to Ukraine, tangibly demonstrated the CiO’s commitment to keeping Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine on top of the OSCE’s agenda. The strong messages passed by Minister Borg that the OSCE remains engaged and committed to supporting the government, civil society and people of Ukraine, including through the OSCE’s extra-budgetary Support Programme for Ukraine are indicative of Malta’s principled Chairpersonship.
Madame Chair, we commend Ukraine for its resolve and its significant successes in its rightful fight for freedom and our common values in the face of Russia’s war of aggression. Ukraine has liberated 50 percent of the territory that Russia illegally occupied at the beginning of Russia’s fully-fledged war of aggression. It has degraded considerably Russia’s offensive military potential used to wage its war of aggression. Ukraine has also been able to push the Russian Black Sea fleet to the east, thus opening the western part of the Black Sea for exporting grain and other commodities to global markets, which is vital for countries all over the world most in need.
The EU is committed to supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes. The latest case in point has been the European Council decision of 1st February in relation to the establishment of a 50-billion euro Ukraine Facility. The aim of this Facility is to ensure stable, predictable and sustainable financial support for Ukraine for the period until 2027.
As a token of continuous support from the EU, HR/VP Borrell yesterday completed his fourth visit to Ukraine since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, and his sixth in his capacity as EU High Representative. He met with Ukrainian authorities at the highest level in Kyiv after traveling to Dnipro, where he witnessed first-hand some of the residential areas destroyed by Russian strikes in January. This visit took place amid new Russian aerial attacks in Kyiv, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, Kharkiv, and Mykolaiv on the same day. The High Representative underscored both the unwavering EU commitment to Ukraine, including its military support, and the significant progress made by Ukraine in implementing priority reforms as it pursues its European path.
Furthermore, the EU has imposed unprecedented restrictive measures against Russia and its accomplice Belarus to thwart Russia's ability to continue its war of aggression. We will also continue to contribute substantially to international humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. Additionally, we have been at the forefront of international efforts to ensure that 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.
As far as Russia’s twisted version of "peace" is concerned, it is nothing short of a facade for its true intentions – to erase Ukraine’s statehood, distinct culture and identity, and to subjugate its people. Let us reiterate; it is Ukraine, not Russia, that has shown genuine interest in a comprehensive, just and sustainable peace that would be fully in line with international law, including the UN Charter and the OSCE principles and commitments, enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter. It is Ukraine that is exercising its legitimate right to self-defence in full conformity with Article 51 of the UN Charter. As, under international law, it is Ukraine that is the victim of Russian aggression. No amount of Russian disinformation can change this reality.
We reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. The EU and its Member States will continue their intensive global outreach efforts and cooperation with Ukraine and partners from all regions of the world to ensure the widest possible international support for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace and the key principles and objectives of Ukraine’s Peace Formula, based on the UN Charter, with a view to a future Global Peace Summit.
In conclusion, we once again demand that Russia immediately stop its unprovoked, unjustifiable and illegal 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.
Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs