Statement of Germany delivered by Ambassador Antje Leendertse in the debate of the UN General Assembly: “The situation in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine”

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18 July 2023

Madam President,

I want to thank and join all the previous speakers who have condemned Russia’s illegal occupation of Ukraine’s territories and outlined the immense human suffering it has caused.

Since the start of its unjustifiable and unprovoked war of aggression, Russia has tried to take Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv by brutal force, as well as several regions in the North, South and East of the country. Ukraine’s people have bravely resisted and driven the occupiers from Ukraine’s North, from Kharkiv oblast and the city of Kherson. Step by step, they are now trying to expel Russia from the East and South as well.

Germany is humbled by the courage and determination of the people of Ukraine. We will stand with them until they have re-established full control over all of Ukraine’s territory within its internationally recognized borders. Only after a complete and unconditional withdrawal of Russian troops, there will be a chance for peace. A just and lasting peace. A peace that is based on international law and the UN Charter which we have all vowed to uphold.

Germany welcomes all initiatives by the General Assembly and international actors that bring us closer to this goal. To achieve it, we must be vigilant and avoid steps that perpetuate the aggression and illegal occupation. It is important that a group of countries has started to work on Ukraine’s peace formula, meaning principles for a just peace. Germany welcomes that the work initiated at the meeting in Copenhagen is now continuing in Kyiv.

A ceasefire without Russian withdrawal would condemn millions of Ukrainians to indefinite occupation. An occupation by an aggressor who wants to erase their Ukrainian identity; who murders, tortures, rapes, deports children to Russia, and puts civilians in filtration camps.

Moreover, any territorial concession by Ukraine would embolden the aggressor and other potential invaders of other countries around the world. We will never recognize Russia’s illegal annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Crimea. These territories are Ukraine. A complete and unconditional withdrawal from all of Ukraine is not just a legal and moral obligation, but also crucial to protecting the principles enshrined in the UN Charter.

A comprehensive peace that re-establishes a basis for future ties between Russia and Ukraine also includes compensation and accountability issues. Last year, Russia started a relentless bombing campaign to systematically destroy Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and to leave Ukraine’s citizens without heat, electricity, and water. With its actions, Russia has repeatedly violated International Humanitarian Law and now that the Kakhovka dam lies in ruins, a catastrophe for tens of thousands of Ukrainians, an ecological disaster and a heavy burden for many years to come has unfolded. And the danger has not yet passed for the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which remains illegally occupied by Russian forces. Ukraine has repeatedly warned the rest of the world of the possibility of a Russian provocation at the plant with far-reaching, transboundary consequences.

According to the World Bank, all in all it will cost at this current moment 411 billion dollars for Ukraine to recover from Russia’s aggression. The Russian Federation bears responsibility for the damages caused and will have to compensate Ukraine accordingly. Furthermore, all Russian perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity must be held accountable for their actions. The crime of aggression – which is the ultimate cause for all other crimes and atrocities committed in the wake of the invasion – is no exception to this. The people of Ukraine who have lost loved ones and whose lives have been shattered deserve justice.

Madam President,

Let me conclude by saying that Germany believes in peace, in the freedom of Ukraine and its independence. That is why we will continue to support Ukraine in its right to self-defence until Russia ends its imperialistic attempt of subjugating a neighbouring country.

I thank you.

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