Thank you, Mr Chair. As we approach recess, I want to reflect on the scale of Russia’s aggression in the short time since the Easter recess. Russia has killed civilians in missile strikes on Kyiv, Odesa, Kramatorsk, and across Ukraine. They have targeted grain facilities and cargo infrastructure, including in Odesa last night it seems. They have bombarded a cathedral. They bear the ultimate responsibility for the destruction of Kakhovka dam, which was under their control, and the subsequent damage to the surrounding area. Russia has shown blatant disregard for International Law. And while attacking civilian infrastructure and killing innocent people, Russia has spread lies and disinformation, in a desperate attempt to justify Putin’s intention to subjugate its sovereign and democratic neighbour. And for what? None of the war aims stated at the outset have been remotely met.
In the areas that Russia temporarily controls in Ukraine, Russia’s brutality is also evident. Vast numbers of Ukrainian civilians have been subjected to Russia’s calculated so-called “filtration” process. We have all seen the reports. Innocent civilians are being detained and violently interrogated. Many of those are forcibly transferred to other locations and detention centres. Families often have no idea where they are and may never see them again.
According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, more than 91% of civilian detainees held by Russia experience torture and ill-treatment. This includes sexual violence. And since 24 February last year, the UN has recorded the summary execution of 77 Ukrainian civilians arbitrarily detained by Russian forces. Russia’s so-called “filtration” process is part of a wider strategy to supress resistance, destroy Ukrainian cultural and national identity, and erase Ukraine’s future.
Amongst Russia’s appalling atrocities is their treatment of Ukrainian children. The Ukrainian authorities have recorded the forcible deportation of over 19,000 Ukrainian children by Russian forces. The true figure is likely to be much higher. Many deported children have been relocated to a network of re-education camps in illegally annexed Crimea and deep within Russia. Other children find themselves in social care institutions of the Russian Federation. Among the victims are thousands of orphans. Children have been removed from their homes in Ukraine without the consent of their parents, legal guardians, or the directors of their institutions. Russian authorities are not registering these children or sharing information with the relevant authorities, which is in violation of Russia’s obligations under International Law.
The OSCE’s third Moscow Mechanism report exposed the violations of the rights of children deported to the Russian Federation, including denying their right to identity, their right to family, and their right to unite with their family. We are determined to hold to account those responsible. So, on 17 July the UK announced new sanctions, including ten individuals and one entity involved in the forcible deportation of Ukrainian children. These individuals have played an insidious role in Russia’s calculated programme of deportation.
Mr Chair, last week, we were encouraged to engage in more ‘dialogue’ in this room. And yet the pace of Russia’s appalling behaviour is as high, if not higher, than ever. What kind of dialogue is possible against this backdrop of unprovoked aggression, widespread human rights abuses and violations, and the manifestly absurd pretence that Ukraine is somehow to blame or has provoked such treatment? We all know that during the course of Russia’s campaign of aggression, the Helsinki principles have been comprehensively undermined. We as diplomats are trained to find solutions. But there cannot be dialogue as usual under these conditions. Putin must end this illegal invasion and withdraw all Russian forces from all of Ukraine.
Mr Chair, over this summer, the UK will continue to monitor Russia’s actions closely. There is no respite for the people of Ukraine, who continue to sacrifice their lives in pursuit of peace, freedom, and the integrity of their country. Principles that the OSCE is built to protect. We stand with them, and they will win. Thank you.