Russia continues to challenge the foundations of European security: UK Statement to the OSCE

Ambassador Neil Holland thanks Bulgaria for chairing the Forum for Security Cooperation professionally, despite Russia's destructive behaviour

Neil Holland

Thank you, Madam Chair.  I would like to start by thanking you for your professional stewardship of this Forum over the past trimester.  You and your team have ensured that this Forum has remained relevant and able to fulfil its mandate during challenging times.

This Forum has rightly remained focused on Russia’s unprovoked, full-scale and illegal invasion of Ukraine. Russia continues to challenge the foundations of European security. To violate the UN Charter. And to flagrantly disregard the Helsinki Final Act’s core principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity and the non-use of force. Under your leadership, we have shown that these principles and this Forum continue to matter.  And that we will keep on defending both.

Madam Chair, the Security Dialogues this trimester focused different thematic lenses on Ukraine.  The Forum discussed the Black Sea, weeks before Russia’s unilateral withdrawal from the Black Sea Grain Initiative and reprehensible attacks on civilian infrastructure in Odesa. It highlighted the environment-security nexus, in the aftermath of the destruction of the Kakhovka dam – the impacts of which could last for decades.  And to mark the International Day of Women in Diplomacy, this Forum paid tribute to the women of Ukraine, and to our diplomatic colleagues.  It is essential that we continue to champion women’s full, equal, meaningful, and safe participation in political and peace processes.

Madam Chair, it is over 500 days since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.  Since 24 February last year, we have seen the extraordinary determination of the Ukrainian people as they have defended their homeland.  And we have seen a frustrated Russian military unleash horrendous amounts of violence on civilians and critical national infrastructure. Despite the disinformation perpetrated by our Russian colleagues, it is clear to all that Putin made a grave miscalculation when he chose to invade a sovereign neighbour. And it is clear that millions of young Russians will bear the cost for years to come for an invasion they did not choose. Indeed, far too many will have paid the ultimate price.

No one can deny the Belarusian regime is an active supporter of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. We call upon the Belarusian regime to desist from supporting Russia’s attempts to stoke further regional instability.  Any complicity in the invasion itself constitutes a breach of international law.

Russia’s destructive behaviour in Ukraine has been mirrored in the OSCE. It compounded years of non-compliance by triggering the process to permanently leave the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.  This showed Russia’s ongoing disregard for the Euro-Atlantic security architecture and the principles of arms control.  The Russian delegation blocked consensus on holding the Annual Security Review Conference – another unwelcome first for the OSCE.  And the behaviour of the Russian delegation in this Forum has breached and at times gone way beyond diplomatic norms. So I would like, in that light, to pay particular tribute to you, Madam Chair, for standing up to that behaviour.

I would like to conclude by thanking Bosnia-Herzegovina as it leaves the FSC Troika, and to welcome Cyprus.  As the incoming Chair, Canada can count on the UK’s full, continued support next trimester. As can Ukraine – as it fights a war it did not choose and against an enemy who has demonstrated a disregard for international law, sovereignty, and human rights.  Ukraine must remain at the forefront of our minds over the summer and into next trimester.  The UK and the international community will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.  Thank you.

Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
Neil Holland