I have the honour to speak on behalf of the five Nordic countries; Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
We thank the briefers for their valuable insights.
As we all found peace in the holidays, Ukrainians suffered through yet another Christmas at war. While we spent time with loved ones, families in Kherson and Horlivka had their loved ones taken away by yet another barrage of Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure. While we gathered in the warmth of our homes, families across Ukraine struggled to stay warm as a result of Russia’s cynical attacks on energy infrastructure.
Next month will mark two years since Russia launched its illegal and unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine as well as a decade since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. The Nordics condemn in the strongest terms Russia’s continued aggression, which has brutally destroyed the lives of countless civilians. Despite Ukraine’s impressive courage and resilience, the humanitarian needs remain alarmingly high.
We further condemn Russia’s increased air strikes against Ukrainian cities and population in recent weeks which have resulted in significant destruction of civilian infrastructure and numerous civilian casualties, amongst them children.
Russia’s recent attacks have had severe impacts on civilians and civilian infrastructure, including homes, schools, hospitals and energy infrastructure. UN OCHA reports that hundreds of thousands of people have been left without electricity and water supplies – this at a time when harsh winter temperatures leave civilians exposed and vulnerable. These cruel, inhumane attacks aim only to increase human suffering and severely endanger civilian lives.
Respect for international humanitarian law must be upheld. In its reports, the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine has documented that the Russian armed forces have committed indiscriminate attacks against civilians, as well as on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Such indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian objects are strictly prohibited, may constitute a war crime, and must stop immediately.
This also includes the appalling attacks on humanitarian workers, infrastructure and supplies. We commend the brave efforts undertaken by humanitarian actors in Ukraine and call for full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access, including to areas illegally occupied by Russia.
The Nordics remain steadfast in our support to Ukraine and its people. Russia’s bombing campaign will not weaken our resolve. We will continue to support international efforts to ensure full accountability for all crimes committed in and against Ukraine, including for the crime of aggression.
In closing, the responsibility to halt this devastating war resides with Russia alone. The Nordics will continue to support efforts towards a just and sustainable peace in accordance with international law, in particular Ukraine’s Peace Formula. And we will continue to call on Russia to immediately stop its illegal war of aggression, withdraw all its forces and respect Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity, within its internationally recognized borders.