Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Putin must immediately cease attacks on Ukraine’s civilians – UK statement to the OSCE [December 2022]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 8 December 2022.

Ambassador Neil Bush says that Russia is trying to break Ukrainian resolve through its brutal attacks on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure.

Thank you, Mr Chair. And a warm welcome to Foreign Minister Landsbergis to the Permanent Council. The UK agrees with your assessment. We agree on the need for the international community to step up support to Ukraine so that it can win this war. We agree on the need to hold the Russian government to account for flagrant breaches of international law. And we agree on the need for the OSCE’s continued support to Ukraine and for this organisation to emerge stronger from this crisis.

Mr Chair, since October, the UK and others have repeatedly come together to condemn President Putin’s attacks on Ukraine’s civilians and critical national infrastructure. Sadly, this week is no exception.

This Monday, as the temperature in Kyiv dipped below freezing, Russia launched its latest round of missiles, targeting energy infrastructure and hitting residential buildings. According to President Zelenskyy, while Ukraine shot down ‘most of them’, the missiles which did land killed four people and caused power cuts across Ukraine. In Odesa, a missile strike cut power to pumping stations, leaving the entire city without water. We heard reports of doctors having to perform emergency surgery with flashlights, barely meeting hygiene protocols due to lack of water as a result of power outages. Sadly this is not new, but neither should it be accepted as normal. Russia would like to push Ukraine back into the dark ages.  We need to ensure that Russia fails.

Mr Chair, Russia’s systematic targeting of critical infrastructure since 10 October has damaged over 400 energy facilities. According to the World Health Organisation, this winter will be ‘life-threatening’ to millions of people in Ukraine. Cold weather can kill – and temperatures are predicted to plummet as low as minus 20 ˚C in parts of Ukraine over the coming months.

In addition, as of 5 December, Russia has conducted 630 attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine. Its latest missile attacks on energy infrastructure are further degrading Ukraine’s health system and compounding the impact on the most vulnerable. Maternity wards need incubators. Blood banks need refrigerators. Intensive care beds need ventilators. They all require energy.

Mr Chair, Russia’s intent is clear. It is trying to break Ukrainian resolve through its brutal attacks on civilians, hospitals and energy infrastructure over the cold, hard winter months. It is trying to crush the Ukrainian people’s spirit. Russia will fail.

As Russia well knows – intentionally directing attacks at civilians and civilian objects is not just deeply inhumane, but also violates international humanitarian law. Russia must observe its obligations under international humanitarian law and the UN Charter. If Russia is serious about a diplomatic end to its barbaric war, the path forward is simple: Russia needs to immediately withdraw all of its forces illegally present in Ukraine and cease attacks against Ukraine, including critical national infrastructure and innocent civilians.

Mr Chair, we remain deeply humbled by the bravery and the resilience of the Ukrainian people. They are paying a monstrously high price to defend the principles of sovereignty and democracy. Principles that the OSCE was founded on. Principles which are now being undermined by Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion. The UK and the international community must not – and will not – let Ukraine face this hardship alone. This is why my Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary have both visited Kyiv in recent weeks to demonstrate the UK’s commitment to stand with Ukraine. The UK is providing additional air defence capabilities to Ukraine, to defend against Russia’s brutal missile attacks and we are stepping up humanitarian support to ensure Ukrainians can make it through the difficult winter ahead.

And to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people – know that your friends stand with you on this difficult journey. We will not let you face this winter alone.