UK urge Russia to make clear it will stand down its troops

F.P. Report

LONDON: Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and James Kariuki

I am grateful to USG Di Carlo for her briefing. And I welcome the Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the Council today.

Madam President, first of all, the UN Charter defines our purpose here: “to take collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace”.

Today, over 100,000 Russian troops are massed on Ukraine’s borders. They are equipped with tanks, armoured vehicles, rocket artillery, and short-range ballistic missiles. They are supported by Russian air and maritime long-range strike capabilities. This is not a routine deployment. This is the largest military build-up in Europe in decades.

In the best case scenario, the scale of the Russian forces assembled on three sides of Ukraine is deeply destabilising. In the worst case, it is preparation for a military invasion of a sovereign country.

Madam President, in 2008, Russia told this Council that it was sending peacekeepers into Georgia. In reality it was invading an independent, democratic country.

In 2014, Russia denied to this Council the presence of its forces in Crimea. In reality its soldiers were annexing part of an independent, democratic Ukraine.

Today, Russia denies that its forces are posing a threat to Ukraine. But yet again we see disinformation, cyber-attacks and destabilising plots directed against an independent, democratic country.

Madam President, the United Kingdom welcomes our discussion today as part of the intense diplomatic effort to ensure Russia de-escalates the situation and avoids conflict. We are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity.

At the same time, we have sought dialogue with Russia through the OSCE, the NATO-Russia Council, and bilateral discussions with all levels of the Russian Government. We are ready to address mutual security concerns based on existing European Security structures and international commitments. This includes our expectation that Russia should address our concerns.

We are committed to a constructive dialogue if Russia is genuine about finding a diplomatic solution. This Council has a vital interest in this diplomatic effort. Because let’s be clear: this is not a regional issue.

Any Russian invasion or act of aggression against Ukraine would be a gross breach of international law and Russia’s commitments under the Charter.

Conflict would result in terrible bloodshed and destabilise the entire international community. There should be no doubt about how costly such a miscalculation would be for Russia, or how devastating it would be for the people of Ukraine, whose only provocation is to want a democratic future for their country.

There would be no winners, only victims. Civilians caught in the crossfire, or forced to flee. Families grieving the loss of fallen soldiers on both sides.

So, Madam President, we urge Russia to make clear in this Council:

That it will abide by its obligations under the Charter.

That it has no plans to invade Ukraine.

That it will refrain from the threat, or use of force against its neighbour.

That it will not further undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty or territorial integrity, by military or any other means.

And that it will stand down its troops.