Delivered by Ms Kristel Lõuk, Deputy Permanent Representative of Estonia
I speak on behalf of the Baltic countries – Latvia, Lithuania and my own country Estonia.
I thank the Albanian presidency for organizing this briefing and Under-Secretary General Rosemary DiCarlo for the updates on Russia’s full-scale barbaric military agression against an independent and sovereign country that wishes nothing more than living in peace and freedom to choose their own destiny – free from foreign interference in its internal affairs.
We warmly welcome President Zelenskyy’s participation in this meeting and commend him and the Ukrainian people for their heroic courage and resistance for the freedom of their country and for the freedom of us all.
Crime of aggression is a prime crime against the international law. The Putin’s regime has unleashed a colonial, neo-imperialist, expansionist war against Ukraine, amplified by the obscene, dehumanising disinformation campaign against Ukraine and the identity, language, history and the right to exist of Ukrainian people. The Security Council must urgently perform its duties to stop this unfolding catastrophe.
As we have seen over the course of four months – 124 days – now, unable to defeat the defenders of Ukraine in the battlefield, Russia’s military seeks to achieve its aim by terrorizing civilians. We have already seen this too many times: maternity hospitals, schools, kindergartens, residential buildings, and now also shopping centres are targeted indiscriminately and without any remorse. Russia’s terror knows no bounds. The shelling of a crowded shopping centre of Kremenchuk as well as numerous other intensified attacks on Ukrainian cities – Slovyansk, Harkiv, Kyiv – in recent days had no military justification whatsoever. No justification other than to kill, injure and cause extensive human suffering, and thereby hope that the spirit of Ukrainian people will be broken, the calls for peace at all cost will grow, and that the demands of the aggressor will subsequently be met. This is the diplomacy Russian way – by using terror and blackmail.
The Russian actions represent flagrant violations of international law, including the United Nations Charter. Russia has repeatedly ignored the calls by the UN General Assembly as well as the order of the International Court of Justice to immediately suspend the military operations in the territory of Ukraine and withdraw its armed forces from Ukraine. The borders of a country are not to be changed by force – this demand is the heart and soul of the UN Charter.
The systematic violations of humanitarian law and human rights, deliberate attacks on civilian objects and civilians, executions, sexual and gender-based violence, arbitrary arrests, abductions, enforced disappearances and forced deportations of civilians, including unaccompanied children to Russia, as well as their illegal adoption, committed against Ukrainian people amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity and possibly even genocide.
The international community should not spare any effort to ensure that those responsible for these atrocious crimes are held to account. We need collectively to give our strongest support to the ongoing work by the 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 the national investigations by the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine. Justice will be brought to victims and their families.
We are concerned that yet again has Russia resorted to dangerous and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric by announcing its intention to transfer nuclear capable missiles to Belarus and upgrading Belarus’ warplanes to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons. We urge Russia and Belarus to act in line with their international commitments and cease destabilizing nuclear sabre rattling. Any use of weapons of mass destruction is unacceptable and leads to severe consequences. We herewith strongly condemn the involvement of Belarus as Russia’s complicit in this aggression against Ukraine.
We also strongly condemn Russia weaponising food to increase food shortage and global hunger, and thus destabilize international security. Recent reports have shown that Russian forces have been systematically stealing grain and other products from local farmers in occupied areas of Ukraine. As a result of Russia’s military activity, more than 20 million tons of grain is currently blocked in Ukraine. We fully support the efforts of the United Nations to find an urgently needed solution for the export of Ukraine grain and urge Russia to ensure free passage of shipping from Ukrainian ports.
Let me reiterate that it is an obligation by each member of the international community to stand up against those who violate the principles and rules of international law, including the UN Charter. Otherwise we risk losing the international rules based order we built and committed to since the end of the World War II. Fundamental principles of respecting sovereignty, territorial integrity, and refraining from the use of force are to be respected by every country and are not for debate.
We resolutely condemn Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We urge once again Russia to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania stand with Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.
I thank you.