Mr. Chair, today we cannot but condemn in the strongest possible terms the Kremlin’s deliberate decision to escalate its war of aggression in total disregard for and in blatant violation of international humanitarian law. As the Russian army suffers successive setbacks on the battlefield, Russia has chosen to inflict unspeakable human suffering upon Ukrainians and to destroy as much of Ukraine’s infrastructure as possible. In the last few days, we have witnessed an intensification of this continuing trend. In particular on Monday, Russia launched massive air attacks on most Ukrainian regions, including Kyiv city centre and other major cities across the country, targeting civilian infrastructure, including homes, streets, parks, playgrounds and other public spaces. These barbaric and cowardly attacks occurred in the morning traffic, with the aim to maximise their terrorising effect on the civilian
population. We remind the Russian delegation that the indiscriminate targeting of
civilians constitutes a war crime. The perpetrators and those responsible for war
crimes and crimes against humanity must and will be held to account. Moreover,
the reported violation of the airspace of the Republic of Moldova during the
aforementioned airstrikes is unacceptable and represents another irresponsible action by the Russian Federation.
Later this week, Ukraine will mark the Day of the Defender. On this occasion we wish
to pay tribute to the brave Ukrainian women and men for their heroic resistance
against the aggressor bent on the suppression of Ukraine’s national identity and
statehood. Unlike Russia’s, Ukraine’s fight is an existential one as Ukrainian Armed
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and circulates it without altering its content. The distribution by OSCE
Conference Services of this document is without prejudice to OSCE decisions,
as set out in documents agreed by OSCE participating States. Forces know that they fight for their families, their way of life and the right for their country to choose its own future.
Mr. Chair, last week in the Museum of Military History here in Vienna, during a sober
event on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of this Forum, we repeatedly heard that wars should belong to museums. Regrettably, the Kremlin has chosen to return
to the darkest times of history, thus violating the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final
Act. The threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political
independence of any state are prohibited. These principles are universal and
fundamental. They must be collectively defended. Ukraine, for its part, is exercising its legitimate right to defend itself against Russia and to restore its territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders, in line with the UN Charter and international law. Furthermore, all States have the right to support Ukraine in this just cause and we will continue doing so, including through military support.
We will not stop stressing how, from its very beginning, this war has been a strategic
mistake. Now, eight months into it, there is hardly anyone in Moscow saying that all is going according to plan. Russians seem not to understand the shifting goals of this war as more and more people seem to choose fleeing over mobilisation. Moreover, Russia continues to be increasingly isolated, politically and economically, by the international community who is determined to stand in unprecedented solidarity with Ukraine.
Mr. Chair, in another act of desperation, at the end of September, Russia resorted to
conducting sham referenda in the territories of eastern and southern Ukraine and
then claimed a so-called annexation of those territories. This charade does not
change anything, neither for Ukraine nor for us. We remain firm in rejecting these
outrageous actions. Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, Kherson are parts
of the sovereign territory of Ukraine.
Mr. Chair, Russia’s actions in and around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
(ZNPP) as well as other nuclear facilities in Ukraine pose a threat to the safety and
security and increase the risk of a nuclear accident. We condemn Russia’s
attempts to legitimise its illegal seizure of nuclear facilities in Ukrainian sovereign
territory, including President Putin’s decree last week on the ZNPP. The EU fully
supports the work of the IAEA and its Director General in assisting Ukraine to ensure
nuclear safety and security, and to maintain the implementation of the safeguards. The only way to assure the long-term safety and security of the facility is for Russia to withdraw its troops from the ZNPP and return it to full and exclusive Ukrainian control.
The Kremlin’s strategy based on irresponsible nuclear rhetoric, military
mobilisation and seeking to illegally incorporate Ukraine's territory into Russia
will not shake our resolve. Nobody will be deceived by the Kremlin’s attempts in
purporting that the war is now taking place on Russia's territory.
The unfounded accusations of the Belarusian government against Ukraine are utterly
unacceptable. In addition, we deplore Lukashenka’s announcement in relation to the
deployment of a joint Belarusian and Russian regional group of troops. We urge the
Belarusian authorities to refrain from any further involvement in Russia’s brutal,
callous and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and, in particular, to
immediately stop allowing the territory of Belarus to serve as a launchpad for attacks
against Ukraine and Ukrainian civilians.
Mr. Chair, the European Union and its Member States remain unwavering in their
support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its
internationally recognised borders, and demand that Russia immediately, completely
and unconditionally withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from the entire
territory of Ukraine. We are committed to support Ukraine in its just cause and increase the pressure on the Kremlin to end this war. Therefore, last Thursday, the Council of the European Union adopted the 8th package of economic and individual
sanctions which will continue to weigh on the Russian war effort. Our political, military, economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine will not falter.
The Candidate Countries REPUBLIC of NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*,
ALBANIA*, UKRAINE and REPUBLIC of MOLDOVA, the Potential Candidate Country
GEORGIA, the EFTA countries NORWAY and LIECHTENSTEIN, members of
the European Economic Area, as well ANDORRA and SAN MARINO align themselves
with this statement.
* Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the
Stabilisation and Association Process.