On 18 July the UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations delivered the following statement to the UN General Assembly:
When we gathered for this debate on 24 February 2022, we stood on the edge of war, urging Russia to choose the path of peace as thousands of Russian troops amassed at Ukraine’s border. Within 24 hours, Russian tanks were rolling into Ukraine, marking the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion – an egregious violation of the UN Charter by a permanent member of the Security Council.
In September, Russia again blatantly violated international law, conducting sham elections in Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. This Assembly categorically rejected Russia’s attempts to illegally annex yet more Ukrainian territory. Russia did not change course.
Russia is not seeking to “liberate” Ukrainian civilians. Russia, named by the Secretary-General as a state committing grave violations against children, is seeking to seize and consolidate control through violence and repression. Russia is, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, torturing civilian detainees and committing summary executions.
Russia is trying to erase Ukrainian culture and identity. Russia’s aggression against Ukraine began not on 24 February 2022, but eight years earlier when Russia illegally annexed Crimea.
Civilians in Crimea, particularly Crimean Tatars, have faced oppression since 2014. Their situation has only deteriorated since Russia’s full-scale invasion, with an increase in violence, house searches, arbitrary arrests, and conscription into the Russian armed forces.
The downing of flight MH17 with a Russian anti-aircraft weapon nine years ago was a shocking violation of the international norms which keep our societies and our countries safe. It serves as another stark reminder of the human cost of Russia’s actions in Ukraine over many years. We remember the 298 victims.
Madam President, as the Secretary-General said last year, we must not accept Russia’s illegal control of this territory.
The UK will continue to support Ukraine to defend itself, until it wins a just and sustainable peace, in line with the UN Charter, that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.