I have the honour to speak on behalf of the eight Nordic-Baltic countries: Estonia, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Latvia.
February 24th this year, Russia launched its brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine, in blatant violation of international law and the UN Charter. By this war of aggression aided by Belarus, Russia has deliberately violated the fundamental right of all states to independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Russia’s military aggression and systematic violations of international humanitarian law and human rights, and atrocities committed against the people of Ukraine continue to cause grave human suffering in Ukraine as well as globally.
Moreover, Russia has chosen further escalation. We resolutely condemn today´s barbaric missile attacks on residential areas, power stations, railways, trade centers and bridges in Kyiv, Zaporizhzhia, Lviv, Dnipro and other Ukrainian cities launched by Russia. There is no military purpose there. The only goal of Russia’s deliberate attacks is to cause death and destruction to civilian people.
With its military force, Russia has organised sham “referenda” as a pretext for a subsequent illegal attempt to annex four Ukrainian regions, Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia, following the pattern of the attempted illegal annexation of Crimea, Ukraine, in 2014.
We reiterate our unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. The unlawful Russian attempts to change the status of the temporarily occupied Ukrainian regions have no legal validity.
We will never recognize the so-called “results” and claimed consequences of these sham “referenda”. Russia’s faulted attempts to validate voting at gunpoint goes against the core principles of international law, as also reiterated by the Secretary-General on 29 September 2022. They are null and void and cannot produce any legal effect whatsoever.
There is no such thing as a “legitimate” “referendum” amidst brutal warfare and widespread and systematic violations of international humanitarian law, human rights violations and abuses.
There is no such thing as a valid annexation of a State’s territory by another State as a result of threats or direct use of force. In this respect, we recall that, under international law, all states are obliged to not recognize Russia’s attempted illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory.
Russia’s unlawful war on Ukraine constitutes a direct attack on the rules-based international system and a threat to international peace and security.
We will not accept this blatant violation of the core principles of the UN Charter and the suffering of millions in its wake. We will not accept Russia’s unlawful behaviour that jeopardizes international peace and security.
We reject Russia’s brutality in the strongest possible terms and the international community will hold Russia accountable for its actions. There shall be no impunity.
On Friday 30th September the Security Council Draft Resolution on the sham referenda failed to be adopted due to a single member, Russia, casting its veto. We deeply regret this. We do however acknowledge the Special Report of the Security Council on the use of the veto, which informs our discussions today.
Our stance is clear: A world without respect for sovereignty, territorial integrity and the rules-based international order cannot stand. Therefore
We must firmly and collectively reject Russia’s sham referenda and illegal attempt to annex any part of Ukrainian territory;
We must collectively continue to insist that Russia completely and unilaterally withdraw its troops from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. Russia must comply with the 16 March order of the ICJ, which is binding on the parties, and stop its aggression against Ukraine;
We must uphold the core principles of international law and the UN Charter.
And we must underline that Russia’s unacceptable threats on the use of nuclear weapons is in clear violation of the UN Charter and threatens international peace and security.
We will continue to firmly stand with Ukraine and will continue to provide support to Ukraine for as long as it takes. In line with the UN Charter and international law, Ukraine has the inherent right to defend itself against Russia’s aggression, and to restore its sovereignty within its internationally recognized borders.
We know what the annexation and occupation are. We have experienced it during and after the Second World War. Therefore, we must do everything possible to defend the UN Charter.
The Nordic and Baltic countries will therefore vote in favor of this resolution and call on Member States to do the same.