Thank you, Madam Chair. Once again, Ukrainian civilians have paid the price for Russia’s illegal war of aggression on its sovereign neighbour. In the town of Izium, in Kharkiv Oblast, Russian missiles struck a fire station, injuring eight personnel. It is a feature of the depravity of the Russian campaign that Russia continues to cause damage to targets, such as ‘first-responders’, whose very role it is to preserve life.
On 26 October, Russian one-way-attack UAVs struck near Khmelnytsky Nuclear Power Plant, 280km west of Kyiv. 20 people were reported injured by falling debris in a town nearby, windows at the plant were shattered and power was temporarily cut to off-site radiation monitoring stations. The attack also downed power lines near the facility. Thankfully the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that the plant’s operation continued to be unaffected. Alongside the unacceptable military control of Zaphorizhzhia Power Plant by Russia this acts as another example of Russian recklessness and the risks this brings to nuclear safety and security.
No doubt, in a moment, we will hear from the Russian Delegation in another attempt to draw equivalence with Ukraine. But we should be in no doubt that there is no equivalence. Russia is the aggressor. Ukraine did not illegally invade its neighbour; Russia did. In what has historically been a monologue of disinformation, Russia may proclaim a new world order; but this is a world order in which Russia invites the Hamas terrorist group to Moscow, following Hamas’s brutal murder of over 1400 Israeli citizens; it is the world order of allying with Iran, the provider of Shahed one way attack drones which have been used extensively by Russia to kill Ukrainian civilians and attack critical infrastructure; and the development of North Korea as Russia’s new strategic arms partner and provider of military aid. Madam Chair, this is not a new world order, but a grouping of authoritarian States that have aligned out of desperate necessity.
Mixing with such regimes mark the depths to which Russia has sunk in an effort to maintain its military in the field. Russia does this while it continues to suffer devastating losses both around the town of Avdiivka and in the campaign more broadly.
Madam Chair, Russia’s horrendous war against Ukraine has now lasted 200 times longer than Russia had predicted it would. The incredible defence of Ukraine is the result of the tremendous courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people. It is quite plausible that Russia will once again try this winter to directly target Ukrainian energy infrastructure, if it can replenish its diminished stockpile of long-range cruise missiles. This would be in keeping with the cynical way in which Russia has chosen to fight its illegal war to date. And Russia will continue to mask its myriad military failures to enable this debacle to continue. Even in this diplomatic Forum, Russia will threaten to destroy Ukrainian aircraft, whilst at the same time Russia continues to shoot its own aircraft out the sky; it will talk of military advances whilst now only having control of half of the Ukrainian territory it did at the beginning of the campaign; and it may even show a handful of NATO vehicles on the obligatory slideshow, never acknowledging that Russia has now lost 5000 tanks in this calamitous campaign.
Madam Chair, Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is a tragedy for Ukrainians but an unmitigated disaster for Russia. The sooner Russia recognises its folly and withdraws from internationally recognised Ukrainian territory, the better. Until that time, the United Kingdom will continue to support Ukraine, to help it become ever more capable of defending itself and, assist in the reconstruction that Russia has necessitated. As for Russia, those responsible will be held accountable for the destructive and catastrophic campaign; the longest ‘lightning strike’ in military history at over 600-days and counting. Ukraine will win this war. Thank you.