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

OSCE Permanent Council No. 1377, Vienna, 9 June 2022.

1. Mr Chair, let me start by reiterating the EU’s unwavering support to Ukraine and its heroic people in defending their land, their people as well as their distinct culture and identity from Russia’s war of aggression. We will continue to provide all possible support to Ukraine.

2. Despite continuous calls on Russia to end its illegal and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine, the attacks are still ongoing. Russia has even intensified its missile strikes against UA military and civilian infrastructure and heavy fighting continues in Donbas. Ukrainian cities have been bombed into rubble. At this very moment, Severodonetsk and Lysychansk are at risk of being completely besieged and devastated by Russian Armed Forces. Last Sunday, Russian missiles targeted Kyiv again. From the areas currently under Russian military control, we receive reports about arbitrary detentions, torture, killings and forced deportations of Ukrainian citizens, including children, to Russia, Russia-controlled territories or Belarus through so-called “filtration camps”.

3. There are also many reports of Russian forces using sexual violence as a weapon of war. A tactic of torture, terror, and repression. Sexual violence could constitute a warcrime and a crime against humanity. These horrific crimes must be exposed and prosecuted without impunity.

4. The EU supports all efforts to ensure accountability. 45 OSCE participating States, including all EU Member States, re-invoked the Moscow Mechanism on 2 June to assess the continuing impact of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We have requested ODIHR to provide all relevant information or documentation gathered by the new mission of experts to mandated accountability mechanisms, as well as competent national, regional, or international courts or tribunals that have, or may in future have, jurisdiction. The EU is also assisting the Ukrainian Prosecutor General and Civil Society to collect evidence. All perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity must and will be held to account.

5. The EU strongly condemns the Russian Presidential decrees of 25 May and 30 May, simplifying the process for granting Russian citizenship and issuing Russian passports to Ukrainian citizens, including children without parental care and legally incapacitated persons, in regions that are temporarily under military control of Russian invading troops. We will not recognise these passports and call on other OSCE participating states to do likewise.

6. We also strongly condemn any attempts by Russia to replace democratically elected and legitimate Ukrainian administrations. The same goes for Russia’s attempts to introduce the Russian rouble as a parallel currency to the Ukrainian hryvnia, the attempts to impose Russian curricula and education materials as well as attempts to change the language of tuition in schools in areas currently under the illegal control of invading Russian Armed Forces. Any actions trying to alter the status of parts of Ukrainian territory are a clear violation of international law, the UN Charter, OSCE founding acts and principles as well as Ukraine’s Constitution. They undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and will not be recognised by the European Union. Russia, its political leadership, and all those involved in violations of international law and international humanitarian law will be held accountable for these illegal actions.

7. Global food security has been severely jeopardised by Russia’s war of aggression, while the Russian authorities are actively spreading the false narrative that other countries are to blame. The Russian Armed Forces are blocking the export of food commodities from Black Sea ports and are disrupting farming in Ukraine – a major exporter of grain and other food products. This is driving up food prices, pushing people into poverty, and destabilising entire regions. Current assessments are that millions of tons of grains meant for export are stuck in Ukraine and there is mounting evidence that Russia is stealing some of these stocks. It is also targeting grain storage facilities, as happened in Mykolaiv on 4 June when Russian Armed Forces destroyed the second largest grain terminal in Ukraine. Russia is also cynically spreading disinformation in order to deflect the blame for such attacks. The EU, together with our partners, will do everything possible to mitigate the dire consequences of Russia’s actions by helping Ukraine’s agricultural exports and supporting Ukraine’s agricultural sector for the coming season.

8. Russia’s brutal war of aggression has caused millions to flee their homes and seek refuge outside Ukraine. Most of them are women and children requiring special protection and assistance. Unaccompanied minors and separated children are especially vulnerable and face a high risk of falling victim to trafficking, as discussed in the latest Security Committee meeting on “Novel technology in countering human trafficking”. The European Union Member States, in cooperation with UNHCR, UNICEF and other relevant bodies, continue to ensure that a prompt and concrete response to the needs of children and their families is provided for, with special attention to unaccompanied children. In addition, we set up the EU Temporary Protection Directive in order to help Ukrainians settle, work, to have access to education and to receive services in the EU Member States.

9. The EU continues to urge Russia to live up to its responsibilities as an OSCE participating State regarding the SMM staff. They are still under OSCE functional legal protection. We urge Russia to ensure the immediate release of those remaining in detention and to end the media campaign against SMM.

10. The European Union condemns Russia’s premeditated, unprovoked, unjustified and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. We call on Russia to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and to immediately and unconditionally cease its military actions and withdraw all its troops and equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine, including the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula. We also reiterate our call on Belarus to stop enabling the Russian aggression and to abide by its international obligations.

11. On 3 June, the EU adopted the 6th sanctions package targeting Russia and Belarus. Together with the previous five packages, the sanctions adopted are designed to further increase economic pressure on Russia and undermine its ability to wage its war on Ukraine. The European Union stands with Ukraine and its people. Ukraine will prevail.

The Candidate Countries REPUBLIC of NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO* and ALBANIA*, the Country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and Potential Candidate BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA, the EFTA countries ICELAND, LIECHTENSTEIN and NORWAY, members of the European Economic Area, as well as UKRAINE, the REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, GEORGIA, ANDORRA, MONACO 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.