LONDON: UK Ambassador Bush criticises the Russian government for the malign political and geopolitical tactics used in their illegal war against Ukraine.
Thank you, Mr Chair. Over the last 6 months, Russia’s merciless warfare methods, including relentless targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, have proved beyond our worst fears. In my statement today, I will focus on the malign political and geopolitical tactics employed by Russia, and their impact on people throughout the world.
We are by now familiar with the Kremlin’s administrative playbook for trying to establishing control in the regions it temporarily controls: but it has proved ineffectual. Attempted ‘passportisation’ will never undermine Ukrainian national identity. And the international community will not recognise the results of staged referenda that have been pre-decided in Moscow. In particular, the UK condemns Russia’s plans to use their proxies to hold illegitimate “trials” of captured members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in eastern Ukraine. Russia must comply with international law and treat these individuals in accordance with their status as Prisoners of War.
We are also familiar with Russian tactics that are even more sinister. The second Moscow Mechanism report documented widespread ‘filtration camps’. Here at the OSCE, we have heard moving testimonies from both survivors of and families affected by the filtration process. We have seen credible evidence of civilians abused, physically and psychologically, and kept in unsanitary conditions with insufficient food and water. Survivors describe torture, humiliation and ill-treatment. According to the Moscow Mechanism report, those who fail filtration are “separated from others and often simply disappear”. The report also found evidence of other authoritarian practices, including large-scale deportations of people to Russia against their will, and cases of orphaned children brought to Russia, whose whereabouts are now unknown. We are supposed to learn from the mistakes of the darkest chapters of European history; not use them as a blueprint.
Having failed to garner global support for his war, President Putin tried instead to hold the world to ransom – with food, energy and by deploying military personnel and weaponry to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Global food security was already under threat from COVID-19 and climate change. The rest of the world saw the risk of famine as an urgent global challenge: President Putin saw it as an opportunity to weaponise food supply. 47 million of the world’s most vulnerable people are one step away from famine, and close to 1m are already experiencing famine-like conditions because of the Russian government’s conduct in Ukraine.
The Russian government has applied the same tactics to energy, and again, the most vulnerable groups are being hit hardest. But attempting to coerce the world through energy exports will backfire. Russia has merely proved itself to be an unreliable supplier, and hastened diversification away from Russian energy.
We are grateful to the UN and Turkiye for brokering a deal that enables grain shipments to leave Ukraine. We also welcome the news that Director-General Grossi’s and his team have managed to get to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant today. But Russia should not be congratulated for solving problems it has itself created. The only way President Putin can truly alleviate the global crises he has created is by ending the war and withdrawing from Ukraine.
To underpin the despicable tactics I have described today, the Russian state has generated extensive propaganda. Kremlin information operations seek to undermine Ukrainian sovereignty, create false pretexts for invasion, obscure the truth and hide war crimes. But the Russian government is losing the information war. We have exposed President Putin’s online troll factories. And independent organisations and institutions, including the OSCE, have amassed evidence that Russia is targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure. The Russian government knows this, which is why they are enforcing such draconian censorship throughout their own country. The Kremlin has legislated against references to ‘war’ or ‘invasion’, closed Russia’s independent press, prevented protests from taking place, stopped access to social media and arrested individuals for telling the truth. The Russian authorities fear facts; we will continue to use them to undermine the Kremlin’s strategy.
I conclude today with the words of my Prime Minister during his visit to Kyiv last week, “What happens in Ukraine matters to us all….But the war is only going to end one way. Ukraine will win and Britain will be by your side.” Thank you, Mr Chair.