Thank you, Mr President, and I join others in thanking our briefers today as well.
As we’ve heard, it’s 3 weeks since we met in this Chamber to make one final effort to avert a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
It’s 3 weeks since we were interrupted by the news that President Putin had abandoned diplomacy and chosen war.
These have been 3 devastatingly long weeks for the people of Ukraine. For the 3 million people who have fled – and for those who have stayed.
As we heard from the UN, Russian forces are laying siege to populated cities and towns, and indiscriminately shelling residential areas with high impact weaponry, including cluster munitions.
43 healthcare facilities, including a maternity hospital, have been attacked, killing the most vulnerable and depriving civilians of access to medical assistance.
And President Putin’s war is causing suffering well beyond Ukraine’s borders.
Thousands of students, many from nations around this table, have been caught up in the violence.
The war is spiking food and energy prices, bringing further pain to countries in the developing world already suffering from the impact of COVID, and famine, and conflict, and climate change.
Millions of refugees have been taken in by countries across Europe.
Mr President, Colleagues, 3 weeks since the start of Russia’s invasion – one point should be clear in our minds.
This is an unprovoked war of aggression waged by Russia.
Russia is responsible for the suffering it has inflicted on Ukraine and beyond.
Russia alone can end this war.
141 UN Member States have unequivocally condemned Russia’s illegal invasion. The International Court of Justice has issued a legally-binding order, requiring Russia to suspend military action in Ukraine immediately.
This week, perversely, Russia tabled a resolution that, among other things, called for the protection of civilians, including women and children.
This is cynical game-playing in the face of human suffering.
Just yesterday in Mariupol, Russian forces reportedly targeted civilians taking cover from the onslaught, despite the word ‘children’ written on the ground where they sheltered.
If Russia really wanted to protect women and children, it would withdraw its troops from Ukraine and end this illegal invasion today.
Thank you, Mr President.