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Russia’s so-called peace proposal shows disdain for the rules based international system: UK statement to the OSCE

Thank you, Mr Chair. Russia’s War of Aggression in Ukraine continues unabated, causing immense human suffering.  What it intended to be a three-day lightning strike quickly descended into chaos. This was a war of choice, unprovoked and unjustified. And now, two years and 118 days later, the human cost to both sides has been incalculable, with the extraordinary numbers of Russian casualties in particular a testament to President Putin’s misjudgement. Ukraine continues to bravely defend its sovereign territory.

Despite high operational activity by Russia, their gains have been minor in almost all sectors of operations and they continue to sustain high casualties. The poor performance and high attrition of the Russian armed forces has necessitated increasingly desperate measures, including recruitment of foreigners into their armed forces with the promise of high wages and Russian citizenship. Unsuspecting foreign nationals who believe they are travelling to Russia to study and are then forced to fight on the front line.

With the previous ‘convict pool’ now likely to have exhausted, it is becoming clear how deeply unpopular further mobilisations will be among the Russian population. The previous mobilisation resulted in a record labour shortage and an exodus of skilled workers such as doctors and IT professionals. It puts Russia in a quandary of its own making.

Against this backdrop last weekend more than 90 countries met in Switzerland at the Ukraine Peace Summit to reinforce international consensus that the principles of the UN Charter must underpin a just and lasting peace. This resulted in a communique, signed by representatives from every continent, that stated ‘the principles of respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states can and will serve as a basis for achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine.’

Yet Russia rejects this vision and instead continues to violate the fundamental principles of international law. Principles that they have freely signed up to – as a member of the United Nations and as a signatory to the Helsinki Final Act – to ‘respect each other’s sovereign equality and individuality as well as all the rights inherent in and encompassed by its sovereignty’.

That same Act states that participating States ‘have the right to belong or not belong to international organizations’ and, most fundamentally, that participating States ‘will refrain…from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State’. Russia continues to seek to deny Ukraine these fundamental rights: to choose its own security arrangements; to determine its own sovereign course and to live in peace and security within its internationally recognised borders.

Meanwhile, President Putin’s so-called peace proposal calls for Ukraine to cede parts of its internationally recognised territory. This is not consistent with the Helsinki Final Act or the UN Charter. It shows his disdain for the rules based international system that keeps us all safe and the contempt he has for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. That is why we will support Ukraine for as long as it takes to secure a just and sustainable peace – because the principles and values that we all share to co-exist peacefully depend on it. Thank you.

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