In the last days we have all seen images of armed Russian soldiers going door-to-door in occupied parts of Ukraine to collect votes for a so-called "referendum" on joining Russia. This is a phony pretext from the aggressor, Russia, to try to annex more parts of Ukraine.
Let me be clear: Ukraine has not authorised these referenda, and Norway rejects these Russian fabrications in occupied regions of Ukraine.
Whatever outcome Russia announces, they remain contrary to international law, have no legal effect, and would in no way change Ukraine’s sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders.
We are also clear that no territorial acquisition resulting from use of force shall be recognised as lawful. And that no Russian claim to annex territory can take away Ukraine’s right to defend its own land.
All States, including Russia, have an obligation under Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, and to settle their international disputes by peaceful means.
Russia’s announcement of the mobilisation of reserve forces is another issue of grave concern. It is a dangerous escalation which will lead to increased suffering for people in all parts of Ukraine.
Unspeakable horrors were revealed in Bucha, in Izium, and other places occupied by Russian forces.
The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine concluded - in the update given last Friday - that war crimes have been committed in Ukraine by Russia.
The use of explosive weapons in populated areas have been a source of immense harm and suffering- not distinguishing between civilians and combatants; adults or children.
The commission also found accounts of ill-treatment and torture carried out during unlawful confinement. And that Russian soldiers have committed sexual and gender-based violence. The age of victims ranged from four to 82 years. The Commission has documented cases in which children have been raped, tortured, and unlawfully confined.
Norway condemns these acts in the strongest terms, and calls for accountability for the perpetrators.
This war has had abhorrent impacts on the people of Ukraine, and now is being felt across the globe. We must work urgently to bring it to an end.
Norway expresses its full support for the Secretary-General’s good offices. And when the time comes, we will stand firmly with the UN’s efforts to build and sustain peace.
The Ukrainian people are paying with their lives to defend universal values – and their own independence.
Ukraine can count on Norway’s continued support.
Russia must stop the war and fully, immediately, and unconditionally, withdraw its forces and military equipment from all territory in Ukraine. And again, Norway will never recognise these so-called referenda, and we stand by Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.