I have the honour to speak on behalf of the eight Nordic-Baltic countries: Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Denmark.
On the night of February 24, the Russian leadership decided to attack Ukraine. Let me be clear: We condemn in the strongest terms possible the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation. People around the world are watching with horror the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine, a member state of this organization. A member of this community of nations.
We are struck with a profound sense of injustice and a profound sympathy with the Ukrainian people who are fighting for their country, their cities, their homes, their families, their lives.
The Russian leadership’s aggression and brutal armed attack is in clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity within its international recognized borders. Their actions gravely violate international law and the principles of the UN charter. It is an attack on this organization. This cannot stand.
Last week, the Russian leadership decided it would erase Ukraine’s right to determine its own future. This cannot stand.
Russia counted on the world to remain silent. But we are acting. And on this day – and until peace prevails and every Ukrainian can safely return to their homes – we stand with Ukraine. The devastating consequences of this aggression - not only for Europe, but globally -cannot be overstated.
Russian aggression against Ukraine will have global and long-term negative consequences, challenging the rules-based international order, if we let it go unanswered.
We fear increased suffering in the time ahead. With potentially large numbers of casualties and extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure. We see fighting unfolding in and around urban areas. We are deeply concerned about the long-term, cumulative and protracted harm to the civilian population.
We will continue to look at every single instrument in our toolbox, as a matter of urgency. Sanctions have already been enacted to cripple Putin’s ability to finance his war machine. Likewise, the role of the Lukashenko regime in Belarus in enabling the attack on Ukraine also demands a firm response.
Nordic-Baltic countries have been delivering financial, humanitarian and military assistance to the people of Ukraine. And many of our partners around the globe have joined us. Every nation must look at how to further support Ukraine.
During the past days we have watched with horror broadcasted images of families separated, children sheltering in the safety of the Kyiv subway system, kindergartens destroyed by Russian ordnances, and the ruins of bombarded residential buildings in the center of the capital of Ukraine. We are outraged by indiscriminate attacks on civilians in this unlawful and immoral war of conquest which serves no purpose and no principle but the naked quest for power and territory. This cannot stand. Russia must respect international humanitarian law and human rights law. Full and unhindered humanitarian access must be guaranteed. Civilians must be protected.
We call on Russia to stop this senseless war. And echo the plea of the Secretary- General. We demand immediate cease-fire. We urge Russia to withdraw all its forces from Ukraine. And return genuinely to the path of dialogue and negotiation.
Let me be clear: Every civilian death, every war crime, will be recorded and we will ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are held accountable and brought to justice. History has its eyes on us. Every legal avenue available will be used to hold the aggressor to account.
Ukraine has sent a request to the International Court of Justice on Russia’s erroneous and absurd allegations of genocide in Ukraine, which the Russian Federation as cynically used as a false pretext for its invasion. The International Criminal Court’s Prosecutor has also noted that he is monitoring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and has jurisdiction to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity. The prosecutor’s office may – and will - exercise its jurisdiction over and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within the territory of Ukraine, as Ukraine has accepted the court's jurisdiction. We fully support the ICC’s monitoring of the situation.
The rules based international order, which governs how states interact with one another, was put in place drawing from the horrible lessons of two world wars, promising one another that future generations would be saved from the scourge of war. The attack on Ukraine; the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a direct assault on the principles and purposes of the UN Charter. This cannot stand.
The matter is now in the hands of the General Assembly. Where one veto cannot overrule the UN membership. Where the power and legitimacy is manifested in numbers. Russia’s, the aggressor’s, shameful use of the veto on a matter it bears full responsibility for is completely unacceptable. As a permanent member of the Security Council Russia has a special responsibility of maintaining peace and security, not violate the very principles of the UN Charter. The latest meetings of the Council demonstrated the need for reform. It demonstrated who had the firmness and valor to defend the UN Charter.
No country can grow and thrive in isolation. Russia knows this. The General Assembly has the power to send a firm message to Putin. What we say today and how we vote on the resolution presented will make a difference on the ground in Ukraine and to the Ukrainian people. They will be watching us. Hoping that the world will come in on the side of the UN Charter and our promise of “never again”.
Russia’s unlawful and brutal armed attack on Ukraine will affect and impact everyone. And if we do not join our forces to turn back this tide today, we will be even less equipped to deal with similar crimes in the future – wherever, on whichever continent they occur.
Over the last week we have heard powerful statements from representatives of every continent on this planet, from Africa to Asia, from Europe to the Americas, that Russia’s behaviour (towards a fellow member) of the United Nations cannot stand. And we will hear more today.
To those who still refer to “two parties to a conflict”, we echo the words of a protester, who so rightly had written on her sign:
If Russia stops fighting there will be no more war.
If Ukrainians stop fighting there will be no more Ukraine.
That is the simple reality before us. That is the simple truth.
The world will hold Russia and Belarus accountable for their actions. Russia as the main aggressor. Belarus as the enabler.
Thank you Mr. President.