Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Russia’s violation of OSCE principles undermines comprehensive security in Europe – UK statement to the OSCE [June 2024]

The press release issued by the Foreign Office on 6 June 2024.

Ambassador Holland calls out Russia’s failure to live up to the commitments it signed up to in the OSCE’s Decalogue with its illegal full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Thank you, Madam Chair.  Each week in this Council, we confront the reality of what is taking place on the ground in Ukraine as a result of Russia’s illegal full-scale invasion.  And that is right. As long as it continues to fight this war, we should never stop confronting the Russian Federation with what their so-called Special Military Operation means for the people on the ground; the heroically brave Ukrainian Armed Forces, the first responders to Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure or the innocent civilian victims of Russia’s aggression. We should express our opposition and disgust at what is happening in the name of Russia in Ukraine – and hold Russia accountable.

However, occasionally, it is also worth taking a step back to remind ourselves of what the Russian Federation has done to comprehensive security overall in our region by their violation in Ukraine of the principles, agreed at Helsinki, that sit at the heart of this organisation: specifically, the Decalogue. The Decalogue was adopted, by consensus – and that means all of us – nearly half a century ago.

Looking at the Decalogue again, it is striking what a good job our predecessors did. If we were starting from scratch today to design a set of principles that should govern relations between the states of our region, I think and hope we would come out in a similar place.

Take for example the first principle:

“The participating States will respect each other’s sovereign equality and individuality as well as all the rights inherent in and encompassed by its sovereignty, including in particular the right of every State to juridical equality, to territorial integrity and to freedom and political independence. They will also respect each other’s right freely to choose and develop its political, social, economic and cultural systems as well as its right to determine its laws and regulations.

“Within the framework of international law, all the participating States have equal rights and duties. They will respect each other’s right to define and conduct as it wishes its relations with other States in accordance with international law and in the spirit of the present Declaration. They consider that their frontiers can be changed, in accordance with international law, by peaceful means and by agreement.  They also have the right to belong or not to belong to international organizations, to be or not to be a party to bilateral or multilateral treaties including the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance; they also have the right to neutrality.”

Who among us would not want that principle applied to our own country?  None, I imagine.  Then why should that principle apply to 56 of us but not to Ukraine? The standards should apply to all of us. But that is clearly not the view of the Russian Federation who in invading Ukraine has driven a coach and horses through the principle of territorial integrity that they signed up to.

So, Madam Chair, I would like to ask a direct question of the Russian delegation as to whether they consider Russia’s actions in Ukraine to be in conformity with this first Helsinki principle.  If so, could they please explain how?

Thank you.