Statement by Mr. Stéphane Séjourné, Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, at a UN Security Council Meeting on the Two-Year Mark of Russia’s Unprovoked Invasion of Ukraine

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February 23, 2024

Madam President,

Distinguished Secretary-General,

Two years on, Russia has been carrying out a large-scale war of aggression against Ukraine and the Ukrainian people. An unjust, unjustifiable and illegal war of aggression. In total, it has been ten years since Russia sought to invade its neighbor and take part of its territory.

Neither the poor pretexts used by Russia, nor the massive propaganda and disinformation on social networks can deny this clear and indisputable fact.

Russia continues to attack its neighbor. There are Russian troops on Ukrainian territory, a sovereign state.

Russia alone has opted for war, which it decided to carry out for two years, and for which Russia bears sole responsibility.

Russia could decide to end the war by withdrawing its troops from Ukrainian territory, but it does not.

On the contrary, it continues to wage a war whose consequences are causing suffering to many populations: our populations, those of the most vulnerable countries, those who are suffering the most from the food crisis, and the energy crisis too.

As I said, this war is illegal, and runs against the United Nations Charter, and the rules and principles underpinning international order, which we built after the World War II. An order for which our Council must remain the guarantor, as well as respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of States. We cannot and must not renounce this. We must ensure that the law prevails and is respected.

I would like to thank you, Distinguished Secretary-General, for clearly recalling these principles in your statement.

Russia is not only violating the principles of the Charter, but also the resolutions adopted by our Council. It also uses drones purchased from Iran and missiles supplied by North Korea to carry out its strikes. It illegally occupies the Zaporijjia nuclear power plant and does not hesitate to mine the surrounding area. This irresponsibly increases the risk of incidents and nuclear accidents. It impedes freedom of circulation in the Black Sea. It uses energy and food as weapons of war and coercion. It uses disinformation. And here, Mr. Representative of the Russian Federation, I can’t let you say that the ministers didn’t meet on Gaza. I myself held a monthly ministerial meeting on the matter, in the presence of many European Union ministers.

Russia’s war is also illegal, because its troops are massively violating international humanitarian law and human rights.

Russia’s war is illegal and inhumane. I repeat our firmest condemnation of the massacres of civilians, the rape and torture used as weapons of war, and the deportation of Ukrainian children. These crimes can’t remain unpunished.

That’s the purpose of the two arrest warrants issued by the International Criminal Court last year. Russia would also like us to forget all this. It wants to persuade us of its victories, and it wants us to stop defending our security and our values. It will fail on this ground, and on others.

Firstly, Russia is failing on the military front. After two years of enormous losses, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of human lives, at the cost of merciless domestic repression against those who speak out against the absurdity of this war, at the cost of a declining economy despite distorted statistics, it is stagnating on the military front and retreating in the Black Sea. It will also fail to discourage us. On Monday, France will gather around the President of the Republic the countries determined to increase support for Ukraine and respond to the threat that Russia poses to their security.

Solidarity: we are fully mobilized for Ukraine. Ukraine is exercising self-defense. It is fighting for its very existence and its freedom against the invader. And yet, Ukraine alone is seeking peace, and is proposing initiatives to that end with President Zelensky’s plan. France and Europe, united, will continue to support this plan for support and peace proposed by President Zelensky.

Distinguished Secretary-General, Madam President,

Our Council must stand united with one goal in mind: our Charter should apply to everyone, everywhere. We must seek the victory of our Charter in this war, by defeating Russia.

Thank you

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