Statement by Ambassador Alexander Marschik Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations – UN General Assembly Emergency Special Session On the Russian Aggression against Ukraine

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Publisher’s note:

Ukraine: Not since the founding of the United Nations in 1945 has there been such a moment as today – when 193 member states will, or ought, re-energize Hope while under threat of nuclear annihilation.

New York, 28 February 2022
Mr. President,

as usual Austria aligns herself with the statement by the European Union.

However, we would also like to add our voice in our national capacity – because what is currently being deliberately inflicted upon Ukraine does not allow us to remain silent.

Let me start by thanking you Mr. Secretary-General for your clear words today. We are grateful to see that the United Nations is there to help those suffering and in dire need of help.


Excellencies, Colleagues, and most importantly fellow Ukrainians.

We meet here today to discuss the Russian aggression against Ukraine, to discuss the violation of Article 2(4) of our UN Charter.

That we meet here today is a good thing and a bad thing.

It’s bad because it means after several days since Russia launched its aggression against the sovereign territory of Ukraine we are still witnessing military attacks, terrible human suffering and loss of life.

It’s also bad because questions of peace and security should be addressed by the Security Council as primary United Nations organ responsible for upholding international peace and security. The Security Council cannot remain silent when basic principles of our international rules-based on order are trampled by military boots and squashed by tanks.

Last Friday, however, the Security Council draft-resolution was blocked by the veto of a permanent member, the Russian Federation – even though 81 members of the international community supported the draft resolution of the co-penholders.

True: the veto right of the 5 permanent members is foreseen in the UN Charter. But so is the obligation to uphold UN principles. If, in the 21st-century, the Security Council is blocked in a situation that constitutes a blatant breach of international law, we should ask ourselves whether the system of veto powers is still capable and legitimate to regulate our international relations.


Colleagues, our meeting here today is also good. It’s good that the General Assembly is here to step in, when the Security Council cannot fulfill its mandate.

And it’s good that we now have the opportunity here in the General Assembly Hall to raise our voices, to recall the rights and obligations of the UN Charter – our Charter – and state clearly that we will not stay silent if this Charter – our Charter – is violated in the most serious way.

This is our right. This is our obligation as Members of this Organization.


Dear Colleagues, at the end of this debate we will vote on a resolution that condemns the aggression of Russia against Ukraine and shows solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

Austria will vote yes on that resolution and urges all of you to do so, too.

  • By voting yes, we show the world that the UN is able to take its responsibility to defend the rule of law, international law and the UN Charter.
  • By voting yes, we show that these acts and similarly horrifying acts are not tolerated by the international community.
  • And most importantly, by voting yes we show the Ukrainian people that they are not alone.

I know that for some, such votes are difficult. And some of you have questions or doubts. Let me try to address some of these.

Some say the situation in Ukraine is a regional issue, a European problem.

Colleagues, an attack against one of the members of this organization is an attack on all of us. In our interconnected world, our world is one region. Cyber-weapons strike everywhere, missiles have global reach. Today, the world is local.

Some say we must respect security concerns of others. Yes, colleagues, we must. Everyone has security concerns. Ukraine has them and gave up nuclear weapons and trusted others they would be safe. Like other countries Ukraine should freely choose for itself how to conduct security policies that are in line with the Charter. Clearly, if you have security concerns with others, you solve them with dialogue, with negotiations, and not with tanks. Frankly, if a country with one of the largest armies and nuclear arsenals feels insecure, it should seek cooperation and dialogue and disarmament, not resort to force against others.

Some say, ‘well look at others, what about past violations?’. We know this “Whataboutism” well. Trying to justify evil with past evil. Trying to exonerate and excuse yourself by pointing to misdeeds and faults of others. Collegaues, it’s certainly true:

Yes, others have also committed violations, crimes and faults.

Yes, the international community has sometimes shown a lack of unity to act.

And, yes, the international community has sometimes been too hesitant.

But let’s not make that same mistake now:

Let us start a new era where we work together and stand up united for our common principles.

Let us defend the rule of law and the UN Charter.

Let us not give in to the reign of the powerful.

Let us vote yes on this resolution.


Mr. President,

Austria is not part of any military alliance. We rely for our security on the respect and implementation of international law, treaties and custom, including humanitarian law.

Reports about Russian attacks on civilians and civilian objects in urban areas are extremely worrying. Rockets and missiles hitting apartment buildings in Kiev cannot be accepted.

These attacks constitute war crimes under International Humanitarian Law. We urge Russia to strictly adhere to Humanitarian Law, in particular regarding the protection of civilians in urban warfare, and immediately cease these attacks and refrain from using explosive weapons in populated areas.

We strongly condemn the use of cluster munitions which is incompatible with International Humanitarian Law and outlawed under the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

And Colleagues, the threat of use of nuclear weapons? A nuclear threat is a clear violation of the principles of the UN Charter. The implied catastrophic humanitarian consequences do not respect borders and pose a threat to all of humanity. This is completely unacceptable.

For us it is very clear: Perpetrators and those responsible ordering these crimes need to be held accountable. The International Criminal Court may exercise its jurisdiction over and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within the territory of Ukraine. In this regard we welcome the statement of ICC prosecutor Khan, reminding us all that his office can exercise jurisdiction over and investigate any act of genocide, crime against humanity or war crime committed within the territory of Ukraine since February 2014.

In the last couple of days, Ukrainians have endured incredible human suffering. In order to help ease the humanitarian catastrophe following the Russian aggression, Austria contributed EUR 2,5 Mio. to the ICRC and NGOs and additional humanitarian assistance will be decided soon.  Those organizations’ valuable work must be ensured by guaranteeing humanitarian access.


Colleagues, in summary:

Austria condemns the Russian aggression against Ukraine.

Austria calls on Russia to reverse its decision to recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics, which represents a grave violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Austria urges Russia to immediately withdraw its troops and stop any further bloodshed and return to the path of peaceful dialogue like any Member of the United Nations is obliged to. Vienna is ready to host and facilitate any such dialogue.

We hope that today’s start of bilateral discussions between delegations from Ukraine and Russia can serve as a first step towards an urgently needed ceasefire.

And, colleagues, we call on you to vote yes on the General Assembly resolution to be adopted at the end of this debate. I know that these votes are not always easy. Many of us had good relations with Russia, admire the culture, literature, music, art, and have good Russian friends.

But a good friend, an honest friend, will speak up and say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done when a friend commits an illegal, an evil act.

This is what this resolution is for.

Imagine for one moment- that you are in Ukraine’s shoes. What would you expect from the UN, from this General Assembly, if you were in Ukraine’s place?

In this dark hour it is our moral, our legal obligation to condemn the violations of the Charter and show solidarity with the victim of an aggression.

Austria will show its full solidarity with Ukraine, the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people. Ukraine – we stand with you.

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