Thank you. In our statement to this Council last week, we highlighted evidence of war crimes and instances of the unspeakable suffering and devastation Russia has inflicted on Ukraine’s civilians. Evidence this Council is sadly all too familiar with, following the findings of two Moscow Mechanism reports.
Now we gather here again, not a week later, to condemn Russia’s intense barrage of missile attacks on Kyiv and across Ukraine, including Lviv, Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia. We are reminded once again, that Ukraine’s civilians are paying the terrible price for Russia’s barbaric actions.
In Kyiv for the last two mornings, residents were woken to the sound of air raids, forced to take shelter for nearly six hours in fear of their lives. But even before the horrific attacks of yesterday, October is proving to be a deadly month for Ukraine. From 1 to 9 October 2022, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights recorded 373 civilian casualties, including 97 killed.
In Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia, more civilian infrastructure has been severely impacted in the these latest attacks. There have been multiple power blackouts, with areas cut off from water supply and communications. A playground, a pedestrian bridge and the National Philharmonic have been hit. Either the missiles missed their targets, or the Russian military were intentionally targeting cultural sites and areas where children may have been present.
Sadly, these are just the reports that have emerged so far. Over the coming days, as the destruction left by these missile strikes becomes clearer, we will not allow the casualties of this senseless violence to be forgotten.
Let us be clear: Russia has taken these actions in full knowledge of what would ensue: destruction, injuries and death. This is a pattern we have seen repeatedly from the Russian government and Russian military following their premeditated, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Deliberate attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are not only abhorrent, they are war crimes and a blatant violation of international law. Russia’s behaviour continues to directly contravene the OSCE principles we have all committed to, including refraining from the threat or use of force, the peaceful settlement of disputes and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Once again, we call on Russia to cease the indiscriminate use of weapons against the civilian population in civilian areas and to withdraw all Russian troops from Ukraine now.
There can be no justification for Russia’s behaviour. We will continue to work with Ukraine and international partners to hold those responsible to account. Such egregious violations of international law will not go unanswered for.
The UK remains deeply concerned by the safety of nuclear facilities in Ukraine, including the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which must be able to operate safely. It is alarming that on Saturday the IAEA Director General, Rafael Grossi, reported that the security situation had deteriorated further after overnight shelling temporarily cut all external power. Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is on Ukrainian sovereign territory. Russia must immediately return any and all seized Ukrainian nuclear facilities to the competent Ukrainian authorities.
Mr Chair, as my Foreign Secretary stated: Russia’s recent missile attacks are a demonstration of weakness by Putin, not strength. The Ukrainian people have shown their courage and conviction will not be suppressed. Nor will the determination of its partners. The UK’s commitment to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people is unwavering. Putin must end this illegal war and withdraw Russian troops from Ukraine’s sovereign territory now.