Statement on behalf of the European Union and its Member States by H.E. Ambassador Olof Skoog, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United Nations, at the 77th Session of the UN General Assembly: The Situation in the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine

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18 July 2023


I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries North Macedonia*, Montenegro*, Albania*, Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Bosnia and Herzegovina*, the potential candidate country Georgia, as well as Andorra, Monaco and San Marino align themselves with this statement.

I welcome the opportunity to address the General Assembly on the situation of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. Our last discussion under this agenda item was on February 23rd 2022, the eve of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbour. At the time, their delegation was still denying Moscow’s plan to fully invade and occupy Ukraine. Since then, over 500 days of death and destruction have passed. The EU reiterates its resolute condemnation of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression, which constitutes a manifest violation of international law, including the UN Charter, and the resolutions of the General Assembly.

This discussion is not just about Ukraine but about each and every country in this Hall. It is about the respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.

Allow me to make three points in my intervention concerning 1) Russia’s attempts to change by force the internationally recognised borders of Ukraine 2) the deeply concerning human rights situation in the temporarily occupied territories; and 3) the need for full accountability.

[Russia’s attempts to change the internationally recognised borders of Ukraine]

Over the past 17 months, Russia has yet again tried, and yet again failed, to change by force the internationally recognised borders of Ukraine. We reiterate our condemnation and firm rejection of the attempted illegal annexation by Russia of Ukraine’s Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. These illegal attempts have no standing or legal force in international law. As in the case of Crimea and Sevastopol, we do not, and never will, recognize these illegal annexation attempts. We urge all UN members to do the same, in line with the UN Charter and the resolution adopted in October by an overwhelming majority of UN member states. The recent decision by the Russian Central Election Commission to hold ‘elections’ in the temporarily military occupied territories of Ukraine represents yet another serious violation of international law. Russia has no legitimate basis for any such action on the territory of Ukraine.

[human rights in the occupied territories]

The human rights situation in the temporarily occupied territories is of grave concern. International monitoring mechanisms, including the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine and the UN Commission of Inquiry, have concluded that Russia has committed a wide range of violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in Ukraine. These violations include indiscriminate attacks as well as intentional attacks against civilians and civilian objects, widespread and systematic summary executions, torture and ill-treatment and unlawful confinement, as well as inhumane detention conditions, rape and other forms of sexual and gender based violence and forced transfer and deportation, including of children. Many of these amount to war crimes. The latest report by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the detention of civilians documents 864 cases of arbitrary detention of civilians perpetrated by Russia, 77 summary executions of civilians and concludes that Russian authorities engaged in widespread torture and ill-treatment of civilian detainees.

Furthermore, the SG report on the situation of children in armed conflict lists the Russian army and affiliated armed groups as one of the perpetrators of grave violations against children. We condemn in the strongest terms Russia’s unlawful deportation and transfer to Russia and to Belarus of Ukrainian children and other civilians. Russia and Belarus must immediately ensure their safe return.

I express our full support for the work of the United Nations to monitor and report on human rights violations and abuses and to support efforts toward accountability. We call on Russia to uphold international human rights and humanitarian law. It must enable full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access through the front lines and stop willingly withholding aid from people in need in the non-government controlled areas.


The EU remains firmly committed to ensure that Russia is held fully accountable for its war of aggression against Ukraine. The International Centre for the Prosecution of the Crime of Aggression against Ukraine has started its support operations in The Hague. The work to establish a tribunal for the prosecution of the crime of aggression against Ukraine will continue. We welcome the adoption of the Ljubljana-The Hague Convention on International Cooperation in the Investigation and Prosecution of the Crime of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity, War Crimes and other International Crimes, and call on all countries to become parties to the Convention as soon as possible. The EU also welcomes the establishment of the Council of Europe’s Register of Damage Caused by the Aggression of the Russian Federation Against Ukraine and calls for work to continue, in line with the resolution of the UN General Assembly.


We are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and its inherent right of self-defence against the Russian aggression. The EU will support Ukraine as long as it takes and is more committed than ever to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in line with the UN Charter and the resolutions of the General Assembly.

Donetsk is Ukraine, Luhansk is Ukraine, Kherson is Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia is Ukraine and Crimea is Ukraine. The world will not accept Russia’s attempted land grab. And the aggressor will be held to account.

I thank you.

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