Russia-Ukraine war: Council of Europe leaders call for unity and the restoration of peace

Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs and President of the Committee of Ministers Thórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörd Gylfadóttir, President of the Parliamentary Assembly Tiny Kox, Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić, Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović as well as President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Leendert Verbeek have made the following statement:

“One year ago, the Russian Federation launched an unjustified and unprovoked military attack against Ukraine in blatant violation of international law, including the Statute of the Council of Europe. As the war of aggression enters its second year, we condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s persisting aggression and reiterate our unwavering support for Ukraine and its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within internationally recognised borders.

“We condemn the Russian Federation’s decision not to heed multiple calls to cease the hostilities and recall its troops but rather to escalate them through the mobilisation and deployment of additional forces, and the illegal annexation of the occupied territories in Ukraine. While Russian officials have repeatedly resorted to belligerent rhetoric, attacks against critical and civilian infrastructure have continued in a deliberate and indiscriminate manner.

“Once again, we urge the Russian Federation to immediately halt its aggression and withdraw its occupation forces from the territory of Ukraine. We remain determined to support our Member State, Ukraine, its Government, and we stand in solidarity with the courageous people of Ukraine.

“The senseless, brutal aggression has claimed countless human lives and caused immense human suffering in Ukraine: a result of atrocities and destruction of an extent not witnessed on European soil since World War II. Serious violations of international humanitarian and human rights law have been committed. We reiterate the imperative of ensuring accountability for all crimes, including the crime of aggression. Without delivering justice there can be no lasting peace. 

“We also deplore the reported unlawful forcible deportations and transfers of Ukrainian citizens, including children, to Russia and within Ukraine’s temporarily occupied territories by Russia. Russian Federation must cease these unlawful acts and all Ukrainians, especially children, must immediately be allowed to return safely.

“The Council of Europe is providing its support to Ukraine on accountability and resilience and is ready to play its part in co-ordination with other international mechanisms for an effective and comprehensive accountability and compensation system which prevents impunity and protects victims’ rights.

“While Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has caused severe damage to multilateralism, we firmly believe that the latter remains crucial to ensure peace, security, and prosperity. We therefore call on our Member States, as they prepare for the upcoming Fourth Summit of the Heads of State and Government to take place in Reykjavik on 16 and 17 May, to demonstrate unity and to continue taking decisive and collective action to support Ukraine.

“We call for the restoration of peace based on international law, accountability, justice and respect for human rights.”