Mr. Chair, Russia’s premeditated full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine has been ongoing for nearly nine months. The EU and its Member States, as they have done every day since the commencement of this outrageous violation of international law, including the UN Charter and the basic principles of our organisation, steadfastly reiterate our strongest condemnation of this unprovoked aggression. By invading its neighbour, Russia has shaken the European security architecture to the very foundations. No amount of shameful falsification, disinformation or propaganda displayed by the Russian delegation in this chamber or elsewhere can hide the truth: Russia is the aggressor and Ukraine its victim.
Mr. Chair, after suffering staggering losses on the battlefield, including the flagship Moskva, as admitted last week in this very room by the Head of the Russian Delegation, the Kremlin has deliberately chosen to take on the most vulnerable. The escalation of attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, in particular energy and water facilities, is highly despicable. We strongly condemn such cowardly attempts to terrorise the Ukrainian population, particularly at the onset of winter. These barbaric actions will not alter the course of the Russian invasion, which was doomed from its very beginning.
Mr. Chair, we also strongly condemn the ongoing forced relocation by the Russian Federation of residents of southern Ukraine. There are deeply concerning reports of looting by the Russian troops of industrial, infrastructural, cultural, educational and medical facilities, as well as private houses and apartments in Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. We recall that such actions grossly violate international law, including international humanitarian law. According to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Population in Time of War, an occupying Power is prohibited from carrying out forced individual or mass resettlement or deportation of protected persons. We firmly reject the policy, openly admitted by the Russian authorities, of transferring people to Russia and illegal forcible deportation and adoption of Ukrainian children from the territories under Russian temporary military control.
In this context, the recent words by President Putin that the civilian population should not suffer from the consequences of military hostilities sound particularly hollow. Let us be clear, deliberate targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure is a war crime under international humanitarian law. Those responsible for all these atrocities, including war crimes or crimes against humanity must and will be held to account.
We deeply regret that Russia is also increasing tensions in the region, by violating the airspace of the Republic of Moldova, while conducting airstrikes against Ukraine.
Mr. Chair, Russia’s irresponsible nuclear rhetoric is unacceptable. We decisively reject Russia’s false claims alleging a preparation by Ukraine of a “dirty bomb”. Ukraine is a non-nuclear weapon state and a committed NPT member. The inspections by the IAEA confirmed that the outrageous Russian claims in this regard are totally baseless. We also urge Russia to immediately withdraw from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and to hand back full and exclusive control of the power plant to the Ukrainian authorities.
Mr. Chair, we salute the courage and the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian people in their existential battle against those who deny Ukraine the right to exist as a state. They are highly motivated in the self-defence of their nation because they are fighting for their homeland, their families, their way of life and the right to choose their own future.
Mr. Chair, we reiterate our call on the Belarusian authorities to refrain from any further involvement in and support for Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and, in particular, to immediately stop allowing the territory of Belarus to serve as a staging ground for attacks against Ukraine.
We remain unwavering in our support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We condemn Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms and demand that Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraws all of its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders, including the illegally annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. Our political, military, economic and humanitarian support to Ukraine will continue as long as necessary.
The Candidate Countries NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*, ALBANIA*, UKRAINE and REPUBLIC of MOLDOVA, the Potential Candidate Country GEORGIA, the EFTA countries NORWAY, ICELAND and LIECHTENSTEIN, members of the European Economic Area, as well as ANDORRA and SAN MARINO align themselves with this statement.
* North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.