1. Mr. Chair, on 9 May, we celebrated Europe day, which not only marks the birth of the European Union, but is also celebrated by European nations as a symbol of peace. Robert Schuman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of France, stated in his declaration of 9 May 1950: "Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity". These words are at the centre of our solidarity and support for Ukraine, which has been defending itself for over 14 months against Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and brutal war of aggression. In this context, we recall the decision of the European Council of 23-24 June 2022 to recognise the European perspective of Ukraine and to grant Ukraine the status of an EU candidate country. The future of Ukraine and its citizens lies within the European Union.
2. The EU stands firmly and fully with Ukraine and its people and will continue to provide strong political, financial, economic, legal, humanitarian, and military support for as long as it takes. In response to Russia’s illegal war of aggression, our overall assistance to Ukraine and its people so far amounts to at least EUR 67 billion. Last week, the Council of the EU reached another important agreement on joint provision to the Ukrainian Armed Forces of 155-mm-calibre artillery rounds and, if requested, missiles for the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This assistance measure, worth EUR 1 billion under the European Peace Facility, will further contribute to strengthening the capabilities and resilience of Ukraine to defend its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and protect the civilian population against the ongoing Russian aggression.
3. 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.
4. On the other side, Russia is still not showing any willingness to cease its hostilities, withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine, and work towards a comprehensive, just and sustainable peace. Information manipulations and war propaganda are also actively used to cover up and further justify Russia’s aggressive actions. The last 2 weeks marked another escalation in Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine with increasingly indiscriminate and bloody shelling of civilian areas. Missile and drone strikes targeted Kyiv, Odesa, Kherson, Kharkiv, Mykolaiv and other Ukrainian cities. A Russian missile also destroyed a storage facility of the Ukrainian Red Cross in Odesa. These indiscriminate Russian attacks against civilian and humanitarian facilities constitute war crimes. The EU remains fully committed to holding all those responsible to account.
5. Mr. Chair, it is crucial that all war crimes and other most serious crimes committed during Russia's aggression against Ukraine are documented and accountability is ensured. We support the OSCE's efforts in this regard, including the use of the Moscow Mechanism and ODIHR reports. We will continue to support Ukrainian institutions and civil society working in this field. We also reiterate our unwavering support for the International Criminal Court, which President Zelenskyy visited last week. We appreciate the opportunity to meet with Mr. Lubinets and Ms. Matviichuk from the Verkhovna Rada and the Center for Civil Liberties, respectively, earlier this week.
6. Soon, it will be one year since Russia blocked the last remaining OSCE mission in Ukraine. We appreciate the decisive actions taken by both the previous and current Chairs of our organisation, as well as by the Secretary General, to ensure that OSCE project activities continue in Ukraine. At the same time, we believe that much more can be done, as envisaged, inter alia, in the OSCE’s Conflict cycle toolbox. In this context, we reiterate our strong support for the OSCE’s continued presence in Ukraine.
7. As the current agreement of the UN Black Sea Grain Initiative is due to expire, we urge Russia to not impede its extension and to fully comply with the conditions agreed. Any disruption to the export of Ukrainian grain to those most in need worldwide will solely be Russia's responsibility. We reject Russia’s continuous disinformation activities, which try to distort the facts about the nature of the UN Black Sea Grain Initiative.
8. We reiterate our deep concern about the continued significant risks to nuclear safety and security at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) following Russia's illegal seizure of the plant. The reported evacuation of residents from the nearby town of Enerhodar by Russian forces will only worsen the already dire conditions faced by the plant's personnel and their families. The EU fully supports the work of the IAEA Director-General and the on-site IAEA experts.
9. The EU reiterates its unwavering support to 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 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.
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 ICELAND, LIECHTENSTEIN and NORWAY, members of the European Economic Area, as well as ANDORRA, MONACO 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.