Thank you, Mr. Chair. I’d also like to pass on our condolences for the tragic railway accident in Greece yesterday. At the Reinforced Permanent Council last Friday, almost 50 Foreign Ministers spoke in support of Ukraine. And in condemnation of Russia. Over one year ago, Russia amassed approximately 190,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders and in illegally annexed Crimea. We had called for de-escalation, dialogue and respect for the fundamental principles of the OSCE and the UN Charter. Russia had insisted that it had no intention to invade – and it maintained that lie right up to the day before it invaded.
Mr Chair, this pattern is all too familiar with Russia. Nine years ago, Russia launched its military operation to illegally seize 10,000 square miles of Ukrainian territory by force, in clear violation of the fundamental principles of the OSCE and international law. The UK did not then, and will not ever, recognise Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
This week I will focus my statement on the Resolution adopted at the UN General Assembly on 23 February – and what it tells us about the failure of Russian disinformation. 141 countries united behind the Resolution, showing solidarity with Ukraine. And only seven countries, including Russia, voted against it.
Mr Chair, 141 countries – from Djibouti to Honduras – called for “a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine, consistent with the UN Charter, including the principles of sovereign equality and territorial integrity of States”. Principles which are also enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act. Principles which Russia has so egregiously violated.
141 countries – from Lesotho to Sao Tome & Principe – reaffirmed their support for the “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, extending to its territorial waters”. Principles which are also enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act. Principles – again – which Russia has so egregiously violated.
141 countries – from South Sudan to Thailand – demanded that Russia “completely and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces” from Ukraine. A demand that we have been making in this Council for over a year. A demand that Russia continues to ignore at tremendous cost: countless innocent lives lost. Millions of civilians displaced. Hundreds of hospitals and thousands of schools destroyed. Generations of Ukrainians scarred by abuses, trauma and forced deportation. And across the world, increased food insecurity and energy prices are affecting every country, impacting the most vulnerable. The terrible consequences of Russia’s actions over the past year will be felt for years to come.
So what does this tell us about Russia’s lies? As firmly established in this Council, Russia’s campaign of disinformation began well before its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Indeed, Russia’s lies, dishonesty and deceit are recorded in the OSCE’s archives for generations to come. It cannot be unwritten and it will not be forgotten.
Russia continues to peddle falsehoods – but to what end? Russia’s lies are not working. Let me say it again – 141 countries rejected Russia’s disinformation. Countries across the world – from Argentina to Zambia – sided with Ukraine and its right to defend itself. They sided with Ukraine’s demands for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace. A peace which guarantees Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and which ends Russia’s constant aggression. And at last Friday’s Reinforced Permanent Council, most participating States spoke along similar lines.
As my Foreign Secretary said peace, stability and the adherence to international law remains in the interests of all OSCE members – and of every State across the world and every person within it. This is why the United Kingdom, along with the vast majority of countries of the world, will continue to support Ukraine. For as long as it takes. Thank you.