Madam Chair, 16 months into Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, we all can see through the Kremlin’s propaganda. The theatrical performances staged by the Russian delegation, as again seen last week in this room, can neither disguise nor distort the stark reality and unequivocal truth about its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The facts remains unambiguous; the Russian Federation launched a brutal, unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine, creating the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe since World War II. It is the Russian Federation that has been flagrantly violating international law, including the UN Charter and fundamental principles and commitments of our Organisation, thereby significantly eroding international multilateralism and the European security order.
Regrettably, the unprofessional behaviour last week by the Head of the Russian Delegation was a new low. The impromptu walkout by us and many other colleagues was not provoked – as he publicly claimed - by his inappropriate display of a missile fragment, clandestinely brought into the meeting room and sent to the Russian Mission in Vienna, as he admitted, via diplomatic pouch. The true reason, as he is well aware, was his disrespectful and absolutely unacceptable remarks about his fellow delegates' status. We expect it will not happen again.
We emphasise once more that, under international law, and the OSCE Code of Conduct, States have the unequivocal right to provide Ukraine, as the victim of this aggression, military and other assistance for its right of self-defence in accordance with Art. 51 of the UN Charter. Russia's targeting of towns and cities across Ukraine with relentless and indiscriminate missile and drone strikes is utterly reprehensible, only further exposing its desperation. It is clear that these actions cannot break the Ukrainian spirit of resistance against such a ruthless invader.
We reemphasise that the international community's support to Ukraine is transparent, fully in line with the UN Charter, and focuses on strengthening Ukraine's ability to protect its people and regain its sovereign territory. We will persist in supporting Ukraine's right to self-defence and uphold the principles of the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act, and the Paris Charter. Russia's attempts to twist the facts and evade responsibility are evidently tailored for its domestic audience. However, such efforts will find no traction here.
Moreover, the destruction of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant dam serves as a stark reminder of the multifaceted, devastating consequences of Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, for which Russia bears full responsibility. We condemn it in the strongest possible terms. The destruction of the Kakhovka dam has also resulted in dropping water levels affecting access to critical cooling water for the reactors of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, putting its nuclear security and safety systems at risk. We reiterate our support to the IAEA Director General’s efforts to preserve the integrity of the site, in full respect of Ukraine’s sovereignty. We recall that Russia must withdraw all military personnel and equipment from the power plant and hand back control to its rightful owner – Ukraine. Only Russia is responsible for this situation that raises significantly the risk of a nuclear accident.
Russia intentionally attacks civilian objects, including critical civilian infrastructure, which may amount to war crimes. There will be no impunity for war crimes and other atrocities.
Last week, the Central Election Commission of Russia announced so-called “elections” in September in the territories of Ukraine that Russia temporarily militarily occupies. Russia has no legitimate basis for any such action on the territory of Ukraine. This is yet another violation of international law and a further futile attempt by Russia to pretend to legitimise its illegal military control and attempted annexation of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol.
The EU and its Member States remain unwavering in their support for Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and demand that Russia immediately stop its war of aggression and completely and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. We also urge the Belarusian authorities to cease their support for, and refrain from any further involvement in or facilitation of Russia's illegal war of aggression.
Madam Chair, we remain determined to work with Ukraine and our international partners to find a just, lasting and comprehensive peace based on full respect for international law. The EU supports President Zelenskyy's Peace Formula and is ready to work with Ukraine on the 10-point peace plan. We will continue to support Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in their fight for freedom, sovereignty, and their European future.
The Candidate Countries NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*, ALBANIA*, UKRAINE, the REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, and BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA*, the Potential Candidate Country GEORGIA, and 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, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.