Thank you, Madam Chair. After the horrific acts of violence in Arras and Brussels, my thoughts are with the victims and their families. The UK stands with France, Belgium and Sweden in the fight against terrorism.
Last week we listened to the lengthy Russian statement, complete with slides, as the Russian delegation attempted to defend the indefensible. The Russian statement was indicative of a mind-set that led Russia to illegally invade another sovereign country in contravention of international law. This mind-set is based on a misguided assumption that might is right and Russia’s absolute willingness to distort reality to suit Russia’s own purposes.
In this Forum we are constantly witnesses to this misleading behaviour. Last week, the Russian representative informed the Forum that she needed to present a lengthy statement, despite being given direction on timings from you Madam Chair, because ‘Russia needed to balance the 40 minutes that other nations had spoken for’. If Russia feels the needs to provide balance on the issue of the illegal invasion of Ukraine, where are the other supporting voices? As Russia, has too slowly realised in recent weeks, Russia is alone in trying to defend the illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Now we know that the UN Charter, of which Russia is a signatory, is based on one member, one vote. So it is odd that Russia claims to be part of global majority. By way of clarification, I understand a majority to be ‘more than half of a group of people or things’. Yet, in UN General Assembly Resolution ES 11/1, deploring Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and demanding a full withdrawal of Russian forces, the resolution passed with 141 voting in favour, 5 against and 35 abstentions. If Russia was confused about the majority element of that vote, UN General Assembly Resolution ES 11/4, declaring the referendums held in the Temporarily Occupied Territories to be invalid and illegal, passed with 143 in favour, 5 against and 35 abstaining. And in the Forum for Security Cooperation, I will underscore, as Russia has openly acknowledged, it is defending itself from a minority of one. I would invite Russia to reconsider generally accepted concepts about what it means to be part of a majority.
Russia also claimed that ‘the logic of the West is simply of ultimatums’. As was eloquently explained last week by the distinguished representative for the United States, the only ultimatum that this Forum has witnessed are the unprecedented two times Russia prevented this Forum from adopting the agenda – and this prevented the Forum from executing its mandate.
Madam Chair, we see time and time again the contempt in which Russia holds this Forum. We have appealed in recent weeks for a return to mature diplomacy and yet we are subjected to more of the same banal, inaccurate and excruciatingly long diatribes. Meanwhile, Russia continues its disastrous campaign around the town of Avdiivka. Russia’s Ambassador to the UN stated last Friday that ‘the ramped-up attacks in the east amounted to a new stage in Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine’. Given the significant Russian losses in this failed effort, it is hard to see what is new about it unless it is the accelerated pace at which Russia expends its poorly-led forces.
Madam Chair, the majority of this Forum continues to recognise the threat posed by the Russian Federation. The United Kingdom will continue to support Ukraine diplomatically, militarily and financially. We are implementing our Ukraine Emergency Winter Preparedness plan (£127 million in aid for 2023/2024) with international partners. Last week, the British Defence Secretary announced a new package of support totalling £100 million to help Ukraine clear minefields and protect Critical National Infrastructure. The United Kingdom continues to work with Ukraine and other partners to support alternative routes to the BSGI for Ukrainian grain exports, increasing the capacity of exports to the rest of the world by overland routes, through Danube ports and Ukraine’s maritime corridor. The United Kingdom will continue to act in this manner until Russia no longer controls Ukraine’s sovereign territory for this is the only path, as recognised by a true majority, to a just and lasting peace. Thank you.