28 July 2022 (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. I want to begin by reflecting on events since 24 February, when Russia invaded its sovereign and democratic neighbour. Since then, Russia has pursued barbaric tactics, once thought consigned to history. Indifferent to International Law, desperate and cowardly, the Russian government has relentlessly targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure. 155 days ago, Ukrainian cities were bustling, prosperous centres. 155 days ago, 20 million now displaced Ukrainian people were living undisturbed in their own homes. 155 days ago, four-year-old Liza, seven-year-old Maxim, eight-year-old Kirill and 350 other Ukrainian children had their whole lives ahead of them.
But on 24 February, the Russian government did not know that they would come to regret testing the mettle of Ukraine and its partners. President Putin sought to bring Ukraine to its knees, but encountered a country that refused to yield. As Russian forces retreated, defeated, from Kyiv, President Putin must have realised how grossly he underestimated the Ukrainian people’s bravery and determination. 155 days on it is clear that President Putin cannot and will not subjugate Ukraine. 155 days on, the UK and our allies remain steadfast in our commitment to Ukraine and the defence of its sovereignty.
Mr Chair, as Ukraine continues to pay a devastating price for its freedom, the impacts of Russia’s invasion are also felt globally. Before 24 February, Ukraine was one of the largest exporters of grains and vegetable oils, feeding hundreds of millions worldwide. Because of President Putin’s actions, some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people are at risk of starvation. If Russia’s aggression continues, the World Food Programme estimates that up to 47 million more people could face acute food insecurity this year. The UN Secretary General has warned that the war is threatening to unleash “an unprecedented wave of hunger and destitution, leaving social and economic chaos in its wake”. The scale of the suffering is truly horrific.
Russia is responsible for stopping Ukrainian grain exports; Russia holds the keys for them to restart. It is absolutely appalling that only a day after reaching an agreement, Russia launched missile strikes on the port of Odesa. Russia must implement its agreement and allow safe export from Ukraine; the world will be watching. The international community must present a united front and make clear to the Russian government that their actions to worsen world hunger are unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
The UK stands firmly with those who are worst affected by the global food crisis and we will continue to provide humanitarian aid and economic support for those that need it most. Over the next three years, the UK will provide £3 billion in humanitarian funding globally and drive a more effective international response to humanitarian crises.
Mr Chair, five months on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the death and destruction Russia has caused are clear for all to see. We must continue to collectively hold Russia to account for what it has done in Ukraine and across the globe. And we must continue to stand with and support Ukraine in its fight for its homeland. Ukraine deserves peace.
I join our partners in calling again on Russia to secure the immediate release of all national Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) members still in detention. As the Acting Chief Monitor made clear on Monday, the Mission and its dedicated staff have performed their duties with the utmost professionalism and impartiality for the last eight years. The unfounded claims and fabricated accusations Russia has levelled against it are shameful.
Finally, as we approach the summer period, the UK will continue to be watching Russia’s actions on the ground closely. There is no respite for the people of Ukraine, who continue to lay down their lives in pursuit of peace, freedom, and integrity of their country. We stand with them.
Published 28 July 2022
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