Ukraine war - Russia has violated UN principles, and International law

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Ukrainian soldiers walk on fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv on Friday. It was unclear what aircraft crashed and what brought it down amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Oleksandr Ratushniak
Ukrainian soldiers walk on fragments of a downed aircraft in Kyiv on Friday. It was unclear what aircraft crashed and what brought it down amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Oleksandr Ratushniak

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On February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine. This attack is a breach of the UN Charter, which is unprecedented since it came into force in 1945.

It shatters the very foundations of the charter. Now, no UN member state can be sure that its borders and its existence will not be called into question tomorrow.

Ukrainian soldiers take positions outside a military facility as two cars burn on a street in Kyiv yesterday. Russian troops stormed towards the capital earlier in the day, and street fighting broke out. Photo: AP
Ukrainian soldiers take positions outside a military facility as two cars burn on a street in Kyiv yesterday. Russian troops stormed towards the capital earlier in the day, and street fighting broke out. Photo: AP

Against the background of the tensions that have been mounting for months, this open aggression by Russia against Ukraine has further escalated, turning the situation it into a full-scale war in Ukraine.

READ: 'We are very scared': South Africans hunker down in Ukraine with little hope of leaving

Russian actions are putting the innocent lives of women, men and children at risk. They are also undermining European and global security and stability.

Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin tried to justify Russia’s actions with historical grievances dating back more than 100 years, even calling into question the right of Ukraine to exist and the very identity of its people. We reject this attempt to rewrite history and to change the borders.

By unilaterally recognising the self-proclaimed “peoples’ republics”, Russia has brought the joint diplomatic efforts of the international community to an abrupt standstill.

Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in London was lit up in support of the people of the Ukraine on Friday. Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with its troops invading the country from the north, east and south, accompanied by air strikes and shelling. This led to sanctions being imposed on Russia. Photo: Getty Images
Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square in London was lit up in support of the people of the Ukraine on Friday. Russia began a large-scale attack on Ukraine, with its troops invading the country from the north, east and south, accompanied by air strikes and shelling. This led to sanctions being imposed on Russia. Photo: Getty Images

In doing so, Russia has ignored multiple offers of a diplomatic way forward, including through the Normandy format on the basis of the Minsk Agreements unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, wherein Russia has committed to the fundamental principles of European security.

It has refused to discuss the issue at the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It has ignored the repeated offers of the good offices of UN secretary-general António Guterres and launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine during an ongoing UN Security Council meeting and while the secretary-general was appealing to Putin to maintain the peace.

The decisions by the Russian Federation, to recognise the independence of non-government controlled area of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine, and to subsequently send troops into these areas and into the rest of Ukraine, are illegal and unacceptable.

They are in gross violation of international law, Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as Russia’s own international commitments. In our view, the self-proclaimed “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk must not be recognised. The EU and our countries condemn this unilateral and isolated decision made by Russia. It should also not be accepted in international organisations and alliances.

READ: 'This is war': South Africans in Ukraine urged to flee to Poland as fighting intensifies

A recognition of separatist entities would constitute a clear violation of territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and constitute a breach of peremptory norms of international law. Guterres has condemned this breach of the UN Charter in clear words, and has asked Russia to stop the attacks and withdraw from Ukraine.  

He has made it clear that this is a global crisis affecting every UN member state. He also qualified the use of the term ‘peacekeeping by Russia as a “perversion”, and he clearly stated that there is no genocide in eastern Ukraine, contrary to Russia’s completely unfounded allegations. We cannot let this unprecedented breach of peace and international norms go unanswered. We stand by Ukraine and reiterate our unwavering commitment to its territorial integrity and sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders.

A fireman kneels next to a damaged vehicle in Kyiv, Ukraine, as the attacks by Russians intensified. Residents in the capital have been encouraged to stay indoors. Photo: Reuters
A fireman kneels next to a damaged vehicle in Kyiv, Ukraine, as the attacks by Russians intensified. Residents in the capital have been encouraged to stay indoors. Photo: Reuters

What the world needs now, in our view, is a clear and unanimous condemnation of this attack by all UN member states in order to isolate Russia in light of its military aggression.

We welcome the statement by the South African government calling on Russia to withdraw its forces from Ukraine immediately, and emphasising respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states.

The EU and our countries condemn, in the strongest terms possible, Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified military invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine, initiated on February 24.

Anna Semyuk (33) hugs her children after a stranger took them across the border to safety in Hungary. They fled Ukraine after Russian invaded their country. Photo: Reuters
Anna Semyuk (33) hugs her children after a stranger took them across the border to safety in Hungary. They fled Ukraine after Russian invaded their country. Photo: Reuters

We call on Russia to immediately cease hostilities and withdraw its military from Ukraine and respect the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. We stand firmly by the side of Ukraine. Russia bears full responsibility for the loss of life and humanitarian suffering caused by its aggression.

We call on Russia and Russia-backed armed formations to respect international humanitarian law.

The EU Council this week adopted an unprecedented package of sanctions. They are directed against Russia’s financial sector as well as the energy and transport sectors, and put strict controls on exports and technology. They are designed to debilitate the Kremlin’s ability to finance the war. As the international community, we also have to look ahead. Should Russia try to install a puppet regime in Kyiv, the international community should not recognise its legitimacy.

A vassal state of Ukraine as a result of a military attack, deprived of its sovereignty and fully controlled and manipulated by Russia, should not be tolerated.

A protester reaches for a poster as members of the Ukrainian Association of SA protest Russia’s invasion outside the Russian embassy in Pretoria. Photo: Reuters
A protester reaches for a poster as members of the Ukrainian Association of SA protest Russia’s invasion outside the Russian embassy in Pretoria. Photo: Reuters

We should also not forget that Russia’s annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the City of Sevastopol in 2014 was already another act of violation of international law, an assault against the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine.

We continue to pursue the policy of nonrecognition of this illegal act. We are committed to upholding the sanctions and keeping the topic on the international agenda.

As our leaders made clear, today we all need to stand with Ukraine. It is a time for solidarity. It is a time for not accepting force.

Ambassadors

Riina Kionka (EU)

Georgios Aravositas (Greece)

Johann Brieger (Austria)

Manuel Carvalho (Portugal)

Ante Cicvaric (Croatia)

Paolo Cuculi (Italy)

Fionnuala Gilsenan (Ireland)

Attila Horvath (Hungary)

Håkan Juholt (Sweden)

Dainius Junevicius (Lithuania)

Andrzej Kanthak (Poland)

Anne Lammila (Finland)

Aurélien Lechevallier (France)

Antonis Mandritis (high commissioner of Cyprus)

Andreas Peschke (Germany)

Han Peters (Netherlands)

Mateja Prevolsek (Slovenia)

Tobias Elling Rehfeld (Denmark)

Pavel Rezac (Czech Republic)

Raimundo Robredo (Spain)

Monica Sitaru (Romania)

Monika Tomašovicová (Slovakia)

Maria Pavlova Tzotzorkova (Bulgaria)

Didier Vanderhasselt (Belgium)

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