Joint statement of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania at the Security Council briefing on Ukraine

Delivered by Mr Pēteris Filipsons, Chargé d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of Latvia

Mister President,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Baltic countries – Estonia, Lithuania and my own country Latvia.

We welcome this meeting of the Security Council to address the implications of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, including the consequences for the UN Charter. We thank Under-Secretary-General Rosemary DiCarlo for their updates today.

As it is well known, The UN Charter prohibits the use of force, except for self-defense and in cases when the Security Council has granted an authorization. Russia’s unprovoked large-scale attack on Ukraine does not qualify under any of these exceptions and must, therefore, be considered as use of force in blatant violation of the UN Charter. Such actions by a permanent member of the Council shake the foundation upon which the United Nations were built. If Russia’s aggression is not stopped and perpetrators are not held accountable, it may induce other actors to follow its path and further erode the international rules-based order. Unfortunately, it will always be the civilian population, which will pay the highest price in the face of such violations.

This week we have entered the sixth month of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, aided by Belarus. The latter was vividly on display yesterday when a barrage of 25 missiles were launched at northern Ukraine from the territory Belarus. Every single day of Russia’s war has brought devastation and suffering to the people of Ukraine. Atrocity crimes in Bucha and Irpin, bombing of maternity hospital in Mariupol, missile attacks on busy train station in Kramatorsk and crowded shopping centre in Kremenchuk have been but a few of the most visible cases of Russia’s blatant disregard for human life in its savage campaign against Ukraine’s freedom, independence and statehood, as well as its sovereignty and territorial integrity. As per the latest report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, a total of more than 5200 civilian deaths are documented in Ukraine. Numbers are growing every day since new crimes against civilians are discovered and new attacks on civilians are executed regularly by the Russian military.

Make no mistake, Russia’s warfare against the civilian population of Ukraine is not a coincidence or collateral damage. It is a deliberate and consistent approach throughout Russia’s war aimed at breaking the resistance and spirit of Ukrainian people.  Unable to defeat Ukraine in the battlefield Russia’s military seeks to achieve its aims by terrorizing Ukraine’s civilian population.

One has the right to ask how can it be possible that such actions, which clearly amount to war crimes, are permitted to be systematically carried out for months in direct violation of international law, including international humanitarian law? The answer lies in the sense of impunity, which characterizes Russia’s approach to its international obligations. Russia must believe it can get way with its bloody crimes. It should be recognized that this sense of impunity is emboldened each time when members of international community, including around this table, fail to condemn Russia’s actions and take steps to respond to its aggression.

Mister President,

This is a high time for the international community to demonstrate that the norms, including the UN Charter, which have been established over decades to ensure peace and stability, as well as protection of civilians, are not empty statements that can be trampled down by dictators and bullies, but ironclad obligations, which we are collectively determined to uphold.

The only way to achieve this is by ensuring accountability at all levels for atrocities committed against Ukraine and its people. In this regard, it is of utmost importance to provide all necessary support to the work of Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, the independent international commission of inquiry mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council and the work of the Expert Missions under the Moscow Mechanism of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s, as well as investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine. Justice must prevail, the perpetrators must and will be held accountable.

Last but not least, Russia has added a global dimension to its campaign of terror by deliberately blocking the export of Ukraine’s grains in order to cause a global food crisis. This is done with the clear aim to exert pressure on the international community and Ukraine. We welcome the agreement reached in Istanbul on 22 July to unblock Ukraine’s Black Sea grain export. However, Russia’s missile attack on Ukraine’s port city Odessa the very next day after the deal was signed once again proves that Russia cannot be trusted. International community must follow closely Russia’s adherence to the deal and maintain pressure to ensure its implementation.

I thank you.