1. Madam Chair, this week is of poignant historical symbolism. The Second WorldWar, the most brutal and devastating conflict humanity has ever endured, came toan end in Europe on 8 May 1945. From its ashes emerged a new internationalsystem, the United Nations, dedicated to maintaining international peace andsecurity and taking effective collective measures to prevent and address threatsto peace, as well as acts of aggression or other breaches of international law. Therules governing this system are enshrined in the UN Charter, a document ratifiedby all 193 member states, including the Russian Federation, which is a permanentmember of the Security Council and as such should particularly act in accordancewith the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
2. Additionally, we commemorate 9 May to honour the Schuman Declaration. Onthis day in 1950, French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman proposed the creationof the European Coal and Steel Community, the forerunner of today's EuropeanUnion. The Schuman Declaration symbolises the pursuit of peace and unity amongEuropean nations, transcending historical rivalries and animosities.
3. As the European Union, we remain steadfast in our commitment to uphold the rules-based international order and to defend our shared values. We firmly believe thatthe international community must confront and address any actions that contravenethese fundamental principles. Consequently, we have adopted an unequivocalstance in response to Russia's illegal, unprovoked and unjustifiable war ofaggression against Ukraine. We strongly condemn this war, which represents not only a blatant and undeniable violation of international law but also goes against our most fundamental values, in particular respect for human life and dignity. It is our collective responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that the Russian aggression against the sovereignty and integrity of Ukraine fails and that such reckless acts are never repeated. European Commission President von der Leyen paid a visit to Kyiv yesterday to mark symbolically Europe Day in a country where the values we hold dear are defended everyday with unprecedented courage and sacrifice.
4. Over the past 15 months, Russia's full-scale aggression has inflicted immensesuffering upon Ukraine and its people. Thousands of civilians and soldiers havebeen killed or injured, frontline towns have been reduced to rubble, and childrenhave been killed, wounded, and traumatized. As the Head of the RussianDelegation spoke of drones in Moscow during last week's FSC meeting, Russiawas deliberately targeting civilian infrastructure in Kherson, resulting in thedeath of at least 23 civilians and injuring 48 others. Intentionally directing attacksagainst civilian objects is a war crime.
5. Madam Chair, although the full extent of the damage caused by Russia's invasionwill not been known until the war is over and Russian troops withdraw from theentire territory of Ukraine, it is vital to document the crimes committed byRussian forces in the country, including the forcible transfer and deportationof a large number of Ukrainian children. We welcome last week's presentationat the Permanent Council of the report under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism onthis subject. In this context, we see the International Criminal Court's recentdecision to issue arrest warrants against President Vladimir Putin and PresidentialCommissioner Maria Lvova Belova as a first step in holding Russian leaders andperpetrators accountable for any crime and atrocity they have ordered, enabled, orcommitted in Ukraine.
6. Madam Chair, the picture in front of us is clear: Russia is the aggressor, whileUkraine exercises its inherent right to self-defence in accordance with Article51 of the UN Charter. Ukraine has the legitimate right to receive support from allstates. While representatives of Russia at the FSC regularly profess their faith inthe aims of their so-called "special military operation", even invoking mystical prophecies to support their claims, the extent of the Kremlin's strategic failure is becoming increasingly clear to people around the world, including in Russia itself.
7. Russia must immediately stop its war of aggression and completely andunconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entireterritory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. We also urge theBelarusian authorities to cease their support for, and refrain from any furtherinvolvement in or facilitation of Russia's illegal war of aggression.
8. Madam Chair, we remain determined and also encouraged to work with Ukraineand our international partners to find a just, lasting and comprehensive peacebased on respect for international law, including the UN Charter, Ukraine'ssovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. TheEU supports President Zelenskyy's Peace Formula and is ready to work withUkraine on the 10-point peace plan. We have stood with Ukraine from the earliesthours of these testing times and will continue to support Ukraine and the Ukrainianpeople in their fight for freedom, sovereignty, and their European future.
The Candidate Countries NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*, ALBANIA*, UKRAINE, REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA and BOSNIA and HERZEGOVINA*, 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, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina continue tobe part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.