Mr. Chair, the European Union and its Member States reiterate their strongest
condemnation of Russia’s deliberate, unprovoked and unjustified war of
aggression against Ukraine. A war that has just entered its 12th month.
Russia’s war is clearly illegal. In fact, by launching an unprovoked full-scale invasion against its peaceful neighbour, Russia wilfully and grossly violated international law, notably Article 2 of the UN Charter. The principles of States’ sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as of refraining from the threat or use of force enshrined therein are the bedrock of the rules-based international order and remain non negotiable. That’s why we will continue to stand in full solidarity with Ukraine and its people, the victims of Russia’s aggression. The EU is engaging with Ukraine and international partners to ensure full accountability for war crimes and the other most serious crimes in connection with Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, including ways to secure accountability for the crime of aggression.
Mr. Chair, the Kremlin launched an illegal war of extreme brutality, grossly violating the fundamental principles of international law and specifically international humanitarian law. In the course of the last 11 months we have received reports on deliberate targeting and killing of civilians, systematic bombing and shelling resulting in razing whole towns to the ground, indiscriminate use of cluster munitions and white phosphorus bombs in populated areas, deliberate targeting of Ukrainian civilians and critical civilian infrastructure, mistreatment of prisoners of war, sexual and genderbased violence, “filtration camps”, and deportations of protected persons to Russia, including forced adoptions.
When Russian forces recently hit a residential building in Dnipro, they reportedly used a KH-22 missile, a weapon designed 60 years ago to be used against aircraft carriers, which is widely known for its lack of precision. Its use in an urban environment, as it was already the case in Kremenchuk, is a reckless act in itself. As a result of this reprehensible attack, at least 46 civilians, including 5 children, were killed, and more than 79 persons were injured. We strongly condemn thisheinous act. Perpetrators of such acts, and all those responsible, will be held to account. However, such despicable deeds will not break the resolve of the brave Ukrainian people.
Reported cases of mistreatment of prisoners of war in temporarily Russian occupied areas of Ukraine are also of high concern. We urge Russia to fully and unconditionally comply with international humanitarian law. Russia must allow the ICRC full access to all Ukrainian prisoners of war.
Mr. Chair, on 19 January, in the Verkhovna Rada in Kyiv, President of the European Council Charles Michel stated the following: “By firing missiles at Ukraine, Russia is firing missiles at all that the European Union believes in. (…) Since day one of Russia’s attack, Europeans have understood that this is more than an attack on Ukraine. This is an attack on us all – our common European values, our European security, our common European peace project”.
That is why we support and will continue to support Ukraine in its inherent right to self-defence, in line with the UN Charter. So far, including the decisions of the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday, the European Union and its Member States have mobilised a total of 11.5 billion EUR in military assistance. And more is on the way. In addition, we are providing training to 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers. Our political, military, financial and humanitarian support will continue for as long as it takes. This is our contribution to sustainable peace, in Ukraine, in Europe and globally. We are and will be organising and delivering our support to Ukraine in close coordination with our international partners.
Mr Chair, last week the Russian delegation tried again to justify the unjustifiable – in vain. Let us be clear: Russia has not been threatened neither by Ukraine nor by any other State. The shifting and misleading narratives by the Kremlin show that it is impossible for the Kremlin to explain its strategic mistake, neither to the international community nor to its own people. As stated by HR/VP Josep Borrell last week, the “latest comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accusing “the West” of seeking a “final solution” for Russia are entirely misplaced, disrespectful and trample on the memory of the six million Jewish people, and other victims, who were systematically murdered in the Holocaust. Russia’s manipulation of the truth to justify its illegal war of aggression against Ukraine has reached another unacceptable and despicable low point.” As this week we commemorate the annual International Holocaust Remembrance Day, such comments by Russia’s Foreign Minister are even more appalling. Moreover, irresponsible nuclear saber-rattling which we now and again hear from the Russian side is highly unacceptable.
Mr. Chair, in addition, the recent reports that Russia has transferred more than 70 OSCE vehicles from Rostov on Don to eastern Ukraine are another case in point of Russia’s illegal and irresponsible behavior. Russia must return them to their legitimate and rightful owner. We also demand that Russia immediately and unconditionally release the three OSCE staff members illegally detained since last April.
In conclusion, we urge Russia to immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. We also urge the Belarusian authorities to stop its support of and refrain from any further involvement in Russia’s illegal war of aggression.
The Candidate Countries NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*, ALBANIA*,
UKRAINE and REPUBLIC of MOLDOVA, the Potential Candidate Country GEORGIA,
the EFTA countries NORWAY, ICELAND and LIECHTENSTEIN, members of the
European Economic Area, as well ANDORRA and SAN MARINO align themselves
with this statement.
*North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.