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

OSCE Permanent Council 1408, Vienna, 26 January 2023

1. On 22 January, Ukraine celebrated its Day of Unity. We commend the people of Ukraine for their courage and determination, fighting for their country’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing war of aggression. Fighting for the victory of freedom and democracy. Your unity and resilience is inspiring. Today, a few days after Russia’s full-scale invasion in Ukraine entered its 12th month, westand united, as never before, and in full solidarity with Ukraine, which is exercising its inherent right to self-defence, in accordance with international law, including the UNCharter.

2. Mr. Chair, as the President of the European Council reiterated during his visit to Ukraine last week, we will continue providing Ukraine with all necessary political, military, financial and humanitarian support, and will do so for as long as it takes. The EU welcomes and supports Ukraine’s initiative for a just peace. We are in very close contactwith our Ukrainian counterparts, we are fully aware of Ukraine’s needs and how urgentthey are, and – together with our international partners – we are doing our utmost to meet them. This week we agreed on the seventh tranche of military support worth € 500million, and an additional € 45 million for the Ukrainian forces trained by EUMAM Ukraine.This brings the EU’s total military support to Ukraine to over € 11.5 billion, including €3.6 billion under the European Peace Facility. We welcome the outcome of the Ramstein Ukrainian Defence Contact Group meeting on 20 January and we are looking into further concrete ways to continue our comprehensive support to Ukraine, including on the military side.

3. As you mentioned, Mr. Chair, last night and this morning, there has been another wave of Russian massive missile and drone attacks on Ukrainian cities. The EU condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia’s persisting heinous attacks against residential and medical facilities, and against Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, notably its energy, heating and water supply systems. Deliberate targeting of the civilian population or civilian objects is a war crime. Russia’s political and military leadership, and all those responsible for the crimes committed, will be held to account. The EU is also determined to contribute to securing accountability for the crime of aggression, which is of concern to the international community as a whole. In this context, we note the European Parliament’s resolution, adopted on 19 January, on the establishment of a special ad hoc international tribunal to investigate and prosecute the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

4. On 24 January, we celebrated the fifth International Day of Education. Education is a human right and a public good. Regrettably, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has resulted in at least 3,045 educational facilities suffering bombing or shelling since 24 February 2022. The EU strongly condemns all attacks against education, and expects all children and young people to be guaranteed their right to education in Ukraine.

5. Mr. Chair, the Kremlin’s propaganda and disinformation campaign will not succeed in spreading an illusionary alternative reality. Let us repeat - it is Russia that illegally and unjustifiably attacked Ukraine. It is Ukraine that is defending itself against Russia’s war of aggression, in full conformity with Article 51 of the UN Charter, contrary to Russia’s false claims. It is Ukraine, and not Russia, that has shown genuine interest in reaching an agreement for a just and sustainable peace that would be fully in line with international law and the OSCE principles and commitments, including those enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act.

6. In this context, we categorically reject Russia’s false allegations against the previous and current OSCE CiOs. We commend Poland and North Macedonia for keeping OSCE principles and commitments as the sole basis for their chairpersonships and for holding Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine at the centre of the OSCE’s priorities across all three dimensions. We applaud their principled position and encourage maintaining the same approach in the future.

7. Mr Chair, last week, we addressed the issues of the illegal detention by Russia of OSCE staff and of the illegal transfer of more than 70 SMM armoured vehicles from Russia to eastern Ukraine. These actions are illegal, irresponsible and unacceptable. Russia must immediately and unconditionally release all arbitrarily detained OSCE staff members. At the same time, Russia must return all OSCE assets to their legitimate owner, all OSCE pS, and prevent any misuse related to its war of aggression. We would like to ask the Secretary General to keep us abreast of the situation.

8.The EU does not and will never recognise the illegal annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the Russian Federation. On 17 January, the 10th meeting between the EU and Ukrainian officials was held in Brussels on thepractical aspects of EU’s non-recognition policy. We equally reiterate our strongcondemnation of Russia’s attempted illegal annexation of other Ukrainian territories. Crimea, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk are and will always be Ukraine.

9.To conclude, we demand that Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine withinits internationally recognised borders. In addition, we urge the Belarusian authorities to refrain from any further involvement in or facilitation of Russia’s illegal war of aggression against Ukraine, as well as to immediately stop allowing its territory to serve as a launchpad for attacks against Ukraine, which is an aggression in itself. Belarus must also stop providing military support to Russia. We reiterate that further actions such as, in particular, any direct involvement of the Belarusian military in Russia’s war of aggression will be met by new and strong restrictive measures.

The Candidate Countries NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*, ALBANIA*, UKRAINE, and the REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, 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 and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.