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Russia's wanton destruction against Ukraine must be stopped: UK statement to the OSCE

Ambassador Neil Holland condemns Russia's air attacks this week on Kyiv and Kharkiv, as well as the spate of attacks on Ukraine over the past month.

Thank you, Madam Chair. It is regrettable - and sadly predictable - that we must gather today to condemn Russia’s latest wave of aerial attacks against the Ukrainian people.   

The UK condemns Russia’s attacks this week unequivocally. According to reports, Russian missiles on Kyiv and Kharkiv killed at least 18 people and injured over one hundred. The devastation was felt most acutely in Kharkiv, where an apartment block was hit, killing two people, and injuring 35 residents.

Unfortunately, the attacks on Tuesday morning were just the latest of a series of acts of wanton destruction by Russia in Ukraine since we last gathered for a Permanent Council in December. Over the Christmas period, Russia launched hundreds of missile and drone strikes across cities in Ukraine including Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Dnipro and Lviv. This culminated on 29 December, when Russian unleashed its largest aerial assault against Ukraine since the war began. It killed at least 41 civilians, including a 15-year-old boy, wounded hundreds, and caused significant damage to civilian infrastructure, including a maternity hospital. This pattern continued into January.

I offer my condolences and that of the UK to all Ukrainians for the lives lost due to these barbaric airstrikes. These took place far away from the front lines of Russia’s war, in civilian populated areas. The intensity, regularity and indiscriminate nature of Russia’s attacks may violate international humanitarian law, is extremely concerning and must stop.  

The level of destruction and suffering that Ukraine continues to face is hard to comprehend. According to the UN, there have been 29,000 civilian casualties: with over 10,000 of those having been killed. On average six civilians are estimated to have been killed each day since the start of the invasion and 86% have been in government-controlled territory. This includes a significant proportion killed in areas away from the frontline, due to use of long-range weapons.   

Russia chose to start this war, Russia can choose to end this war. Ukraine did not start it and has the right to defend itself. We will not let Russia win. We will continue to work with Ukraine and our international partners for a just and sustainable peace.

Madame Chair, as we approach the third year since Russia’s full-scale invasion, the UK’s support will not falter. During his visit to Kyiv earlier this month, my Prime Minister announced a package of support and reaffirmed the close UK-Ukraine partnership. This included £2.5 billion in military support and a historic long-term security agreement. This brings the United Kingdom’s total package of support to Ukraine to approximately £12 billion. A clear signal of our unwavering support. We remain deeply humbled by the bravery and the resilience of the Ukrainian people and their determination to win.   

Madame Chair, last but not least I also wanted to highlight today the UK’s continued concern for our three OSCE colleagues of the Special Monitoring Mission detained by Russia. The UK again calls for their immediate release.  

The United Kingdom will stand with Ukraine today, tomorrow and for as long as it takes. Thank you, Madame Chair.

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