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

OSCE Permanent Council 1423 Vienna, 18 May 2023

1. Mr Chair, for the past 15 months, the Russian leadership has been
struggling without success to justify its ongoing illegal, unprovoked and
unjustifiable war of aggression against its peaceful neighbour, Ukraine. With
its war, Russia has been flagrantly violating the most fundamental rules,
norms and principles of international law, including those enshrined in the
UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act, which constitutes the founding
document of the OSCE.

2. In recent weeks, Russia has intensified its indiscriminate attacks on
Ukraine’s cities and critical and civilian infrastructure. Last night, Russia
attacked Ukraine’s capital Kyiv for the ninth time since the beginning of May.
Throughout the past weekend, Russia launched new waves of missiles and
drones also targeting Zaporizhzhia, Khmelnitsky and Ternopil. We recall
that intentionally directing attacks against civilian objects is a war crime. We
strongly condemn these heinous attacks and remain firmly committed to
holding all those responsible to account.

3. Together with partners, the EU will continue to explore ways of using
Russia's frozen and immobilised assets for Ukraine's reconstruction and
reparation purposes, in accordance with EU and international law. We also
welcome the Enlarged Partial Agreement on the Register of Damage
caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine within
the institutional framework of the Council of Europe, that was brokered in
Reykjavik on 16 May, in light of the UN General Assembly‘s resolution
A/RES/ES-11/5 of 14 November 2022. The principle of the "aggressor pays
the damage" must be upheld, and it will be.

4. The EU is firmly committed to ensuring full accountability for war crimes and
other most serious crimes committed in connection with Russia’s war of
aggression against Ukraine, including through the establishment of an
appropriate mechanism for the prosecution of the crime of aggression. In
this context, we welcome the outcomes of the Online Summit of heads of
State and government of members of the Core Group on the establishment
of the Special Tribunal on the Crime of Aggression on 9 May, as well as
those of the 3rd meeting of the Core Group held on 11-12 May in Tallinn,
and the Atrocity Crimes Advisory Group meeting, on 11-12 May in Warsaw.
We reiterate our support for the investigations by the ICC Prosecutor of
crimes committed in Ukraine and call on all State Parties of the Rome
Statute to comply with their obligation to cooperate fully with the
Court. We also reaffirm our support for the International Centre for
Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine in The Hague,
linked to the existing Joint Investigation Team supported by Eurojust. The
EU further reiterates its support for the Vienna-based Independent
International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine established by the UN
Human Rights Council.

5. Yesterday, 17 May, marked one year since the last defenders of Mariupol
were evacuated from “Azovstal”. Since then, we have learned about
numerous instances of serious mistreatment by Russia of these and other
Ukrainian POWs. This includes the explosion of the detention centre in
Olenivka on 29 July 2022, resulting in the deaths of more than 50 Ukrainian
POWs, along with various other reported related cases. We strongly
condemn these actions. We call on Russia to ensure that all Ukrainian
POWs are treated in full respect of international humanitarian law. This
includes granting ICRC full, immediate and unconditional access to all
POWs. We demand the immediate release of all those unlawfully deprived
of their liberty.

6. Mr. Chair, we express our grave concern over recent instances of reckless
behaviour by Russia in this area. The most recent incident, on 5 May, occurred roughly 60 km east of Romania's airspace, where a Russian SU-35 fighter plane irresponsibly approached a Polish Border Guard civilian
aircraft, conducting a Frontex mission, causing major difficulties in
controlling the aircraft. Such dangerous and reckless actions are
unacceptable and further evidence of Russia's dismissive and destructive
attitude to security in the region.

7. We would also like to draw attention to the issue of mines, unexploded
ordnance and improvised explosive devices in Ukraine, which pose an
exceptionally high level of danger to Ukrainian civilians, including children.
The EU regrets that the continuation of the Russian war of aggression in
Ukraine is hampering demining activities. Numerous examples have been
observed in areas liberated by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in 2022, and we
have heard testimonies on this matter, including during this week’s Security
Dialogue of the Forum for Security Cooperation and the recent OSCE GoF
Children and Armed Conflict meeting. In this context, we would like to
highlight the EU‘s and Member States‘ contribution to the humanitarian
demining in Ukraine, including 43 million EUR by the EU, with a specific
financial contribution of 1,2 million EUR for the humanitarian demining
project under the OSCE’s SPU. It is worth recalling that humanitarian
demining used to be the largest project of the OSCE PCU before the
Mission’s closure in June 2022 due to Russia’s obstruction.

8. Mr. Chair, as Ukraine commemorates the solemn 79th anniversary of the
deportation of Crimean Tatars, such illegal deportations are being replicated
today in the parts of the territory of Ukraine under Russia’s temporary
occupation, including in the Crimean peninsula. We recall the latest Moscow
Mechanism report from 4 May on Russia’s forced transfers and deportations
of Ukrainian children within Ukraine and to Russia, as well as multiple other
instances of Russia's violations of international human rights law and
international humanitarian law in Ukraine. Russia must immediately cease
all these illegal actions.

9. The EU reiterates its support for President Zelenskyy’s initiative for a just
peace. We will continue working with Ukraine on the 10-point peace plan. Any diplomatic solution to end Russia’s illegal war of aggression must be
based on full respect for international law and its rules, norms, and
principles, including those enshrined in the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final
Act, and the Paris Charter.

10. The EU reiterates its unwavering support for Ukraine‘s independence,
sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised
borders. We demand that Russia ceases its illegal war of aggression
against Ukraine and immediately withdraws all its military forces, proxies,
and equipment, unconditionally and entirely, from the whole territory of
Ukraine. Russia must also immediately cease actions endangering the
safety and security of civilian nuclear facilities in Ukraine. The EU condemns
the continued military support for Russia’s war of aggression provided by
Belarus. It urges all countries not to provide material or other support for
Russia’s war of aggression.

11. Mr. Chair, all Ukrainians and their friends mark the World Vyshyvanka Day
today. One of the winners of European Heritage Europa Nostra Awards
2022, this international holiday is dedicated to preserving the iconic
Ukrainian embroidered shirt as a symbol of the material and spiritual
heritage of the Ukrainian people. The EU commends the Ukrainian people's
strength, courage, and resistance in withstanding Russia's brutal war of
aggression. We reiterate that we will continue to stand with Ukraine and its
people for as long as necessary to help Ukraine rightfully defend itself,
restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally
recognised borders and preserve its distinctive culture and identity.

UKRAINE, and the REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, the Potential Candidate Country
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.