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

OSCE Permanent Council No. 1438. Vienna, 8 September 2023.

The European Union condemns in the strongest possible terms Russia’s
unprovoked, unjustified and illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and
its people. For more than eighteen months now, Russia has continued its
relentless shelling of civilians and civilian infrastructure on a daily basis in
various Ukrainian regions. Yesterday, another barbaric Russian attack on
Kostyantynivka's central market in Ukraine's Donetsk region resulted in the
deaths of more than 16 innocent civilians, including a child, and left many
more wounded.

We also strongly condemn Russia’s continued targeted attacks against
Ukraine’s grain storage facilities and port infrastructure, not only in the Black
Sea but also on the Danube, in an attempt to disrupt Ukraine’s ability to
export food. Russia’s deliberate decision to terminate the Black Sea Grain
Initiative threatens to undermine global food security and safety of
navigation. Hundreds of millions of people in already vulnerable situations,
particularly in Africa, are put at risk because of Russia’s irresponsible
decision, and its continuing attacks. We call on Russia to stop weaponising
food, which has profound global implications. The right to food is a human
right and hunger must never be used as a political tool. The EU and its
Member States will continue to address food insecurity caused by Russia’s
war of aggression, including through the EU Solidarity Lanes.

Russia’s ongoing war of aggression is causing a devastating impact on the
lives and aspirations of children in Ukraine. The start of a new school year
for Ukraine’s schoolchildren has been hindered by Russia’s war, violating their right to education. Despite the repeated Russian claims of targeting
only military sites, we note with dismay that, according to UNICEF,
thousands of schools across Ukraine have been damaged or destroyed by
Russia, with many not deemed safe and eligible to reopen.

Furthermore, increasing evidence, including in the Moscow Mechanism
report, indicates that Russia employs forcible transfer, re-education, and, in
certain instances, the adoption of Ukrainian children as integral elements of
its systematic efforts to subdue Ukraine's distinct identity, history, and
culture. Russia’s practice of forcibly transferring and deporting Ukrainian
children is severely violates international humanitarian law, and the UN
Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine concluded that it amounts to war crimes.
We condemn in the strongest terms Russia‘s unlawful deportation and
transfer to Russia and to Belarus of Ukrainian children and other civilians.
We call on the Russian Federation and Belarus to immediately ensure their
safe return.

Russia’s political and military leadership will not escape accountability for
any war crimes and other international crimes committed, including for the
crime of aggression. Due to legal obligations under international law, Russia
must also pay compensation for all the damage inflicted on Ukraine in the
context of its war of aggression.

According to reports, early voting has started in illegal so-called ‘elections’
within temporarily and illegally occupied Ukrainian territories by Russia. The
EU strongly condemns Russia's futile attempts to give a veneer of
legitimacy to its forcible and illegal annexation or integration of Ukrainian
sovereign territory. This constitutes yet another blatant violation of
international law and Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and we
will never recognise such actions. Crimea, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk,
Luhansk are and will always be Ukraine!

The EU remains extremely concerned with the worsening situation of
human rights and fundamental freedoms in the illegally annexed Crimean
peninsula. We call on the Russian authorities to release all arbitrarily
detained political prisoners, end the persecution of Crimean Tatars, comply with international law and end all human rights violations and abuses in the
illegally annexed peninsula.

Furthermore, we call on Russia to immediately cease its systematic
mistreatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilian hostages in the
temporarily and illegally occupied territory of Ukraine and in Russia. We
demand the immediate release of all individuals unlawfully deprived of their
liberty, including the three arbitrarily detained OSCE staff members. Russia
must ensure that all Ukrainians in Russian captivity are treated in full
compliance with international humanitarian law.

The EU supports a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine based
on the UN Charter in full respect of Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty
and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders. We
reiterate our support for President Zelenskyy’s initiative for a just peace –
the Peace Formula. We will continue working with Ukraine on the Peace
Formula, including on ensuring the widest possible international support for
its key principles and objectives. As demonstrated by the meetings of
National Security Advisers in Copenhagen and Jeddah and the ongoing
process in Kyiv, there is growing interest in the Peace Formula from many
global partners. This is the only peace plan currently discussed in
international fora. The upcoming UNGA High Level Week will constitute an
important opportunity to further advance discussions with global partners.

The EU reiterates its unwavering support to Ukraine’s independence,
sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised
borders. The EU condemns the continued military support for Russia’s war
of aggression provided by the Belarusian authorities. We call on Russia to
immediately stop its illegal war of aggression against Ukraine and withdraw
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

The EU remains strongly committed to assisting Ukraine to uphold its
sovereignty and territorial integrity and to rightfully defend itself against the Russian aggressor. The European Council has granted the status of
candidate country to Ukraine. The EU, along with 20 EU Member States so
far, has signed the G7 multilateral declaration of support for Ukraine and
stands ready to offer Ukraine long-term security commitments. We will
continue providing comprehensive political, financial, legal, humanitarian
and military support. These are clear signs of the EU’s unwavering
commitment to support Ukraine in building its own peaceful, democratic and
prosperous future within the European family. The EU stands with Ukraine,
and we will continue to do so for as long as it takes.

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
* North Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina continue
to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.