Let me thank USG Rosemary DiCarlo for her briefing, and the UN Secretary-General for his statement earlier today.
We are gathered here this evening because of the Russian Federation’s violation of the core principle on which this Organization is built – the sovereign equality of all its Members.
Norway strongly condemns the decision by the Russian President to recognise the self-proclaimed “People’s Republic of Donetsk” and “People’s Republic of Luhansk” in eastern Ukraine as independent states.
Recognition of the self-proclaimed “People’s Republics” is a clear violation of the Minsk Agreements, under which Russia recognises the non-government-controlled areas in eastern Ukraine as part of Ukraine.
The Russian Federation, as signatory to the Minsk agreements, and as endorsed by Resolution 2202 (2015), has made a clear commitment to seek a peaceful settlement to this conflict.
And, recognition of the self-proclaimed “People’s Republic of Donetsk” and “People’s Republic of Luhansk” runs directly contrary to the work of the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group towards a negotiated peace.
Futhermore, Russia’s actions constitute a clear violation of international law.
It has chosen unilateral action and military threats rather than diplomacy and dialogue.
Norway urges Russia, as a party to the conflict, to fulfil its commitments, to abide by international law, and to return to the path of diplomacy.
Russia’s continued, massive military build-up in and around Ukraine remains an issue of grave concern. Norway urges Russia to de-escalate by withdrawing its military forces from within Ukraine and from the vicinity of its borders.
We commend Ukraine’s posture of restraint in the face of continued provocations and destabilisation efforts.
Russia’s decision to deploy forces in eastern Ukraine is unjustified and irresponsible, as it further increases tension.
We are facing the prospects of a war that would not only threaten Europe’s security architecture, but would also lead to unparalleled suffering for the civilian population.
Norway calls on Russia to strictly respect and fully adhere to international humanitarian law.
We call upon all parties to protect civilians, including humanitarian personnel, and civilian infrastructure, and to facilitate safe, rapid and unhindered humanitarian access to those in need in Ukraine.
Let me conclude by again reiterating Norway’s unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.
Let me finally recall the principles and purposes of the UN Charter which are now under threat by the actions of the Russian Federation in and around Ukraine.