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Ukraine has every right to defend itself from Russian attacks: UK statement at the UN Security Council

My Russian colleague has asked for this debate in order to obscure a simple truth.

The situation we face today has one sole cause: President Putin’s illegal and unprovoked invasion. The problem is the presence of Russian weapons in Ukraine, not the reverse.

President Putin’s illegal war has caused misery to millions of Ukrainian citizens. In the last few months, he has intensified his campaign still further. He has increased Russia’s use of glide bombs against major cities, 3,500 in May alone – a step change in the threat to civilians. He has opened a new front against Kharkiv, which is still recovering from the 2022 invasion. And he is seeking to destroy Ukraine’s power sector, depriving families of heat, light and electricity, in the hope of coercing Ukrainians into giving up.

We heard last week from ASG Msuya that civilian casualties in Ukraine last month were the highest for a year. Much of this campaign is planned and delivered from Russian territory. Glide bombs hitting Ukrainian cities and missiles hitting power stations are launched from aircraft inside Russian airspace. Russia is mustering, equipping and commanding forces for the Kharkiv offensive from inside its borders.

President, Ukraine has every right to defend itself from these attacks, in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter. Ukraine striking military targets that are actively threatening its territory, infrastructure and civilian population is not ‘escalatory’, as Russia has claimed, but a reasonable step to protect itself. Every country in a similar situation would do the same.

We remain resolute in our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, in line with the UN Charter. And we will continue to provide support for its self-defence.

President, tomorrow, dozens of world leaders will gather in Switzerland to express support for a lasting peace, in line with the UN Charter. Russia is straining every sinew to stop them from going. But they know that the Charter is the basis for global peace and security, and that we must uphold it in Ukraine. 

If President Putin truly wants to protect his people, that is in his own hands. 

He could end this war tomorrow if he stopped his aggression and withdrew his forces from Ukraine’s territory. Again, we urge him to do so.

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