Thank you, Mr Chair. It has been another week of brutal fighting in Ukraine, as the Ukrainian people valiantly continue to defend their country from Russia’s illegal act of aggression. We have observed throughout the period since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the violation of the key principles to which this Forum adheres. We note the clear and unequivocal contravention by Russia of International Humanitarian Law and the United Nations Charter; and we hear every week the flimsy justifications of Russia’s rationale for war. The truth of the matter is that there is no justification for this violent act, executed based on historical fantasies by Putin’s regime.
Russia’s grand vision to subjugate Ukraine within a matter of days, now almost two years on, has resulted in quite the opposite of what Russia envisioned. As a result of its heinous aggression, what exactly has Russia accomplished? Since the start of the full-scale invasion, it has lost approximately 2600 Main Battle Tanks and 4900 other Armoured Combat Vehicles.
Just this week, the Russian air force discharged munitions on its own territory for the fifth time; the fourth time this month. Whether this is the consequence of poor procedures or poor drills, one can only speculate. In all likelihood, it is a combination of both as the toll of fighting is felt by the Russian military. Since the start of Russia’s so-called ‘Special Military Operation’, its armed forces have suffered more than 300,000 casualties. During 2023, the average daily number of Russian casualties (killed and wounded) in Ukraine increased from over 600 in 2022 to over 900 at its height in November 2023. Russia has lost nearly the same number of troops it mobilised to invade Ukraine in 2022, with new soldiers receiving inadequate training and its new commanders having little battlefield experience.
For this enormous investment in blood and treasure, Russia has become less secure and more desperate. Putin is wanted by the International Criminal Court. He has suffered the shock and humiliation of an attempted coup, and international isolation has pushed him towards reliance on pariah states like North Korea and Iran for lethal aid supplies.
Far from achieving Russia’s intended aims, its illegal war has solidified international resolve in support of Ukraine. Standing as a sentinel for democracy and freedom, Ukraine has successfully re-captured more than half of the territory illegally seized by Russia since February 2022. Crimea is no longer safe for Russian forces to launch attacks. The Russian Black Sea Fleet HQ in Sevastopol was destroyed and the strategically important port significantly degraded in its ability to support Russian maritime forces.
In truth, Russia’s so-called ‘Special Military Operation’, far from achieving its objectives, has succeeded in uniting democratic nations in defence of the values of sovereignty, territorial integrity and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter. Russia fails to appreciate that because these values are so cherished, there is no alternative but to support Ukraine in its defence of them. Russia is seriously mistaken if it believes that it can divide and conquer, corrosively wearing away at the principles which unite us. The prospect of not standing united in the face of Russia’s aggression is too dark to contemplate. A Russian victory would usher in a new era of global instability. This is why the United Kingdom, with its allies, will support Ukraine today, tomorrow and into the future; for as long as it takes.