At the Security Council meeting, Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley made a statement on “Russophobia.”
Location: United Nations, New York
Delivered on: 14 March 2023
Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered:
»Statement by Political Coordinator Fergus Eckersley at the Security Council meeting on ‘Russophobia’«
Thank you President.
Colleagues, Russophobia is one of the ever-growing list of excuses that Russia has come up with to justify its war in Ukraine.
The fact that they are inventing so many of these is itself a good indication that they know none of them stands up to full scrutiny.
Let me be clear, on behalf of the UK, and let me say it in Russian.
Мы не русофобы. Наоборот, у нас есть исторические отношения между нашими странами.
Мы вместе сражались в двух мировых войнах. Мы глубоко уважаем богатое культурное наследие России.
Я сам семь лет изучал русский язык, его историю и замечательную литературу.
[Translation: We do not suffer from Russophobia. We have a long history between our two countries. We fought together in two world wars. Across our country people respect and admire Russia’s rich cultural heritage.
[I myself spent seven years studying Russia’s language, its history and its remarkable literature.]
We do not want Russia to fail as a state, as the Russian delegation sometimes claims. Quite the opposite, in fact. We want Russia to be a stable and prosperous nation – just one that does not invade and try to annex its neighbours.
What Ukraine wants, what we all want, is peace in line with the UN Charter.
The problem in Ukraine today is not caused by Russophobia. It is caused by President Putin’s desire to annex a sovereign nation, in breach of the most fundamental principles of the UN Charter.
So when the Russian state complains about Russophobia, what they actually object to, very simply, is Ukraine’s determination that it should remain an independent nation: its refusal to bend to Russia’s will and to give Russia its land.
And in pursuit of Ukraine’s land, the Russian military has killed and injured many tens of thousands of Ukrainians, and displaced millions. There have been widespread reports of atrocities, with the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine recording more than 70,000 potential war crimes so far.
Hundreds of Ukrainian apartment buildings, train stations, hospitals and schools have been hit. Ukrainian cultural property has been looted and cultural heritage sites destroyed.
And more than that. To build domestic support for his war, Putin’s government is pushing out propaganda about Ukraine, to dehumanise the people it is killing, and to delegitimise the country it is invading. All while falsely claiming that Russia is somehow the victim.
In the run up to the invasion, President Putin called Ukraine an intolerable “anti-Russia” and declared that it was an “inalienable part of Russia’s own history, culture and spiritual space”.
We have since heard relentless false claims, including from President Putin, that the Ukrainian government are ‘neo-Nazis’. And from former President Dmitry Medvedev that Ukrainians are “scum and freaks”, “cockroaches” and “grunting pigs”.
The Russian government may believe that this propaganda will help to justify at home the lives of the tens of thousands of Russian soldiers who have been sacrificed.
But the consequences for innocent civilians, for Ukraine as a nation state, and for the rest of the world are catastrophic.
Colleagues, Russia is not under attack. There is only one aggressor here. So we must all tell the Russian government, very clearly, to turn off its war machine: to stop the invasion, to stop the killing, and to stop the propaganda.