HomeUnited KingdomSpeech: President Putin's reported visits to Crimea and Mariupol: UK statement to...

Speech: President Putin’s reported visits to Crimea and Mariupol: UK statement to the OSCE

Mr Chair, footage released over the weekend purported to show Putin on a walking tour of a new residential compound in Mariupol. What it did not show was the scale of the destruction Russia’s military wreaked on the city last year. In an update provided by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in June 2022, it estimated that 90% of residential buildings in Mariupol had been damaged or destroyed in Russia’s attacks. Thank you, Mr Chair. President Putin’s visit to Crimea last weekend, on the 9th anniversary of Russia’s illegal annexation, and his reported visit to Mariupol, were a transparent attempt at distraction. They showed callous disregard for the suffering he is inflicting on Ukrainian soil. My statement today will focus on the truth behind Putin’s actions in Mariupol, and throughout Ukraine. Thank you. Putin’s reported visit to Mariupol this weekend has served to once again highlight the indelible mark he has left on the city. His reported visit reminds us of the maternity hospital hit by a Russian missile strike last year, which killed a mother and her new-born baby; it reminds us of the attack on the drama theatre, in which hundreds of civilians were hiding with a visible ‘children’ sign; and it reminds us of the people forced to flee Mariupol, and the thousands injured and killed as they sought safety. Mr Chair, the UK is determined to pursue justice for those in Mariupol, and throughout Ukraine. On Monday, Justice Ministers from around the world convened in London, for a meeting co-hosted with the Netherlands, to support efforts to investigate war crimes. We must ensure those responsible for these horrendous crimes know that they cannot act with impunity. The International Criminal Court’s announcement last week is an important step in ensuring those responsible are held to account. The UK, alongside the international community, will continue to provide the International Criminal Court with the funding and expertise to ensure justice is served. We will support Ukraine, for as long as it takes. Putin could bring these atrocities to an end immediately, by ceasing attacks on civilians and civilian national infrastructure, and by withdrawing his forces from Ukraine’s sovereign territory. He chooses not to. As we know all too well, Russian attacks on Ukraine’s infrastructure have impacted the entire country. Since Russia intensified its missile, and drone strikes on critical national infrastructure in October, whole regions, and millions of people, have been left without electricity, heating and water for prolonged periods. The UN Human Rights Council Independent International Commission of Inquiry report, published on 15 March, concluded that attacks on energy-related infrastructure “were disproportionate”, “constituted the war crime of excessive incidental death, injury, or damage” and “may amount to a crime against humanity or other inhumane acts”. Mr Chair, this weekend Putin also reportedly visited an art school, a children’s centre and a playground. However, Russian State media did not reference in its coverage that children have been amongst those most impacted by Putin’s invasion. These children will bear the physical and psychological scars for years to come – robbed of stability, safety, education, and their homes. Many have been injured, lost family members and friends, and have been separated from their families. The recent Commission of Inquiry report stated that in some cases Russia’s transfer or deportation of children, within Ukraine and to Russia, may amount to a war crime, thereby constituting grave violations of international humanitarian law. Putin did not stop when the extent of the harm he was causing became apparent – even when accounts were broadcast around the world of mothers unable to provide hot food and clean water for their children, of hospitals operating in the dark, and schools hit by missile strikes. Putin remained cruelly determined to break the will of the Ukrainian people. It did not work.


Stay Connected
Must Read
Related News