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Russia has yet to achieve any of its strategic objectives in Ukraine: UK statement to the OSCE

UK Ambassador Bush thanks Belgium as incoming Forum for Security Co-operation chair for their planned focus on Russia's unprovoked, premeditated and barbaric attack on Ukraine.

7 September 2022

I would like to thank you, Mr Chair, for your clear opening statement and for outlining Belgium's priorities for the Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) this trimester.

Mr Chair, Belgium assumes the FSC Chair just over six months since Russia's unprovoked, premeditated and barbaric attack on Ukraine. An invasion that was and continues to be in blatant violation of OSCE principles and commitments. Russia's indiscriminate attacks have had a disproportionate impact on children and civilians. So it is timely and appropriate for the FSC's Security Dialogues to shine a spotlight on such aspects of Russia's invasion, including on Children in Armed Conflict and the Women Peace and Security Agenda.

Children in Armed Conflict is not an issue commonly discussed at the FSC, but these are not normal circumstances. President Putin's war of choice has had a harrowing impact on Ukraine's 7.5 million children - on their health, on their education and on their family life. There is ample evidence that Russia is committing at least four of the six Grave Violations against children, as set out in UNSCR 1261. According to UNICEF, the war has killed or injured nearly a thousand children - an average of five per day. For those remaining, UNICEF estimates that one in ten schools have been damaged or destroyed - often through deliberate attacks. Evidence suggests that many Ukrainians - including children - have been forcibly deported against their will to Russia. Those fleeing violence are at significant risk of family separation, violence, abuse, sexual exploitation, and trafficking. Countless people will bear the social and psychological trauma for years to come.

Mr Chair, the conflict in Ukraine has served to further demonstrate the continued importance and the relevance of the Women, Peace and Security Agenda. The women - and men - of the Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to fight bravely to defend their homeland. Civilians caught up in the invasion, a large majority of whom are women, have been victims of heart-wrenching crimes against humanity. Many of them have been displaced from their homes and left with an uncertain future. Despite this, in times of war, women are also often the first responders to a crisis, stepping up to serve their communities. This is true in Ukraine, where women have been instrumental to the humanitarian, the political, and the security efforts in the defence of their country including the collection of evidence, to help bring the perpetrators of war crimes to account. We look forward to discussing how women's full, equal and meaningful participation can support better outcomes, including in Ukraine. This issue continues to have the overwhelming support of participating States.

Mr Chair, on day 196 of an invasion which President Putin seemingly thought would be over in a handful of days, Russia has yet to achieve any of its strategic objectives and has suffered such significant military attrition that there will be a long-lasting impact on Russia's armed forces and its future combat effectiveness - one that will last for years. At the same time, it is Russia's own aggressive actions that have directly resulted in NATO growing stronger: welcoming new members; strengthening its forward presence; and transforming the NATO Response Force - boosting its ability to defend every inch of Allied territory.

Above all, Russia's invasion has demonstrated the strength, the resolve and the determination of the courageous Ukrainian people as they defend their homeland. Whilst the FSC took a pause over the summer period, our Ukrainian friends - fighting for their freedom - could not. The UK's military assistance, along with that of our Allies and partners, continued in earnest to support Ukraine as they fight a war they did not choose, against an enemy who has demonstrated a total disregard for international law, sovereignty, independence, and fundamental human rights.

I would like to conclude by welcoming our Belgian colleagues as FSC Chair in this trimester. It is vital now more than ever to ensure the integrity of this Forum so that it remains able to fulfil its mandate. Conventional Arms Control, and Confidence and Security Building Measures remain crucial for security in the OSCE area. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has shown that the instruments were not the issue - political will was. The UK remains committed to all Confidence and Security Building Measures, including the Vienna Document, provided that all participating States fully abide by their commitments under international law, including the Helsinki Final Act and the UN Charter. In this regard, we also note that whilst Belarus remains a member of the troika during this trimester, one cannot hide from the fact that it remains an active supporter and enabler of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. I wish you, Mr Chair, and your able team here in Vienna and in Brussels the best of luck in the coming months and assure you of the full support of the UK Delegation.

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