Foreign Secretary Liz Truss addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council

F.P. Report

LONDON: Foreign Secretary Liz Truss addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Mr President, Excellences, the UK is proud to defend and promote freedom around the world.

We come here to the Human Rights Council to unite in this shared mission.

Together, we have the moral duty to stand up to aggression – especially when it comes from members of this very council.

We remain concerned about reports of violations from China, particularly Xinjiang and Tibet and other parts of the world like Afghanistan and Myanmar.

But today, we must face up to the urgent situation in Ukraine.

As we speak, Russia continues with its illegal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

The consequences of Vladimir Putin’s unjustified aggression are horrific.

Russian troops are laying siege to once peaceful European cities.

Tanks are tearing through towns while missiles hit homes and hospitals.

Putin is responsible for civilian casualties and over 500,000 people fleeing – with the numbers still rising fast.

The blood is on Putin’s hands, not just of innocent Ukrainians but the men he has sent to die.

He is violating international law, including the UN Charter and multiple commitments to peace and security.

He is violating human rights on an industrial scale and the world won’t stand for it.

The UK stands united in condemning Russia’s reprehensible behaviour.

There are no shades of grey to this conflict. It is about right and wrong.

This is President Putin’s war against a sovereign nation. There can be no apologising or excusing it.

I urge nations to condemn Russia’s appalling actions, and to isolate it on the international stage.

Russia is now becoming a global pariah.

Just last week, we joined over 40 countries at the OSCE in condemning its aggression.

The Council of Europe also voted to suspend Russia.

And at the UN, we joined over 80 members in backing a resolution condemning Russian aggression.

Meanwhile, Russia stood alone in opposing it.

This is the cost of isolation and it’s a consequence of Putin’s war of choice.

We must continue to lead a chorus of condemnation to show Moscow that Putin’s ambitions will not succeed.

This is a struggle not just for Ukraine’s freedom and self-determination, but for all our freedom and security.

That is why the United Kingdom is proud to be at the forefront of support for Ukraine economically, politically and defensively.

We were the first European nation to send defensive weapons to the country, and we are leading the way in humanitarian support.

We have just pledged £220 million, including providing Ukraine with access to basic necessities and vital medical supplies, for aid.

We call on Russia to enable unhindered humanitarian access into Ukraine and safe passage for civilians.

Now is the time to come together with a strong response.

We have joined forces with the US, G7, EU and with other partners to take decisive steps through sanctions.

Together, we are cutting out the vast majority of Russia’s banking system from the global financial system.

We are using our collective heft, making up over half of the world’s economy, to cut off funding for Putin’s war machine.

We are delivering severe economic costs through these sanctions, as ordinary Russians are finding from queues at their local banks and rising interest rates.

These consequences will only increase in breadth and severity as the conflict goes on.

We are working to squeeze the Putin regime harder and harder by steadily tightening the vice.

We are going after the highest echelons of the Russian elite, targeting President Putin personally and all of those complicit in his aggression.

Nothing – and no one – is off the table.

Yet we cannot pretend that this is the first time Russia has subjected Ukraine to such aggression.

This Council has heard many independent reports about widespread violations by Russia since their illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The Office of the High Commissioner has documented arbitrary arrests, detentions, intimidation, and torture.

Ukrainian political prisoners remain detained in Russia and Crimea. Many are subject to torture and denied medical care.

Such abuses are far from limited to Ukraine.

Russia continues to show contempt for the freedoms people deserve worldwide.

It continues to undermine Georgia’s territorial integrity in breach of UN Resolutions.

It remains responsible for widespread violations in Syria.

This goes hand in hand with what is happening to Russian people at home.

The Putin regime is dogged by allegations of arbitrary detention, police brutality and torture.

It continues to suppress freedom across the board, from free speech to the freedom of assembly.

Political opponents like Alexey Navalny continue to face gave threats.

There are reports of people from the LGBT+ community being arrested, tortured and killed in Chechnya.

And the Kremlin continues to clamp down on civil society, shutting two of its oldest NGOs – International Memorial and the Memorial Human Rights Centre.

The Putin regime has left Russia’s moral authority in tatters. It should be ashamed to sit in this chamber.

We know many Russian people feel the same way, which is why thousands of people have been arrested across the country at anti-war protests.

But no matter how hard the Putin regime tries, they cannot hide the truth.

At this critical moment, members of this council must make their voices heard.

Together, we can stand up to Russian aggression and back the Ukrainian people.

We cannot rest in this task until Putin is stopped.

Now more than ever, his regime will be held to account for its actions in Ukraine and across the world.