The Korea Herald


'We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes'

The diplomatic community’s statement on the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 24, 2023 - 05:24

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A year ago today, Russia’s tanks rolled into Ukrainian territory, artillery shells fell on Ukrainian civilians, and Russia’s troops headed for Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital. Many expected for Ukraine’s president to flee and for Ukraine’s resistance to break. It hasn’t. A year on, Ukraine has fought back, regained control over half of the territory that Russia captured, and will not stop until it has defeated the full-scale invasion. We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.

This last year has not just been an attack on Ukraine. It has been an attack on the foundations of the rules based international order that has allowed countries to pursue peace and prosperity over the last few decades. It is essential that we stand up for democracy, justice and liberty. That we speak out loudly and act to protect freedom, the rule of law, and the international order. These are values that we are proud to share with the Republic of Korea, and they deserve to be protected. As such, our countries have joined the vast majority of UN Member States to reject Putin’s war decisively, and repeatedly demanded Russia end its full-scale invasion and withdraw completely from Ukraine.

The UN Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine’s October 2022 report details just some of the horrors of Russia’s war, and there is no doubt as to Russia’s culpability for atrocities and human rights violations and abuses. These include barbaric attacks against Ukraine’s energy grid, hospitals and other civilian infrastructure. Intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects constitute war crimes and our countries are committed to hold perpetrators to account.

Putin is why there isn’t peace in Ukraine. But Russia will not win this war. Despite trying to portray Putin’s unprovoked and illegal invasion as something honorable and heroic, the truth is becoming increasingly apparent -- Putin made a grave miscalculation when he chose to invade a sovereign neighbor. Thousands of members of Russia’s forces -- forcibly conscripted, poorly trained, poorly equipped and poorly led -- continue to be sent to their deaths by a frustrated Russian military leadership scrambling to provide numbers in place of trained fighters and effective leadership. One example is Russia’s outrageous, illegal attempts to annex multiple Ukrainian regions, which is nothing but an outrageous attempt by Russia to prop up its failing war.

Russia’s aggression is a sustained assault on the security, democracy and freedom of Ukraine. But the war is not just a Ukrainian tragedy. It has reverberations around the globe. In the security of global food supplies, particularly to poorer countries. In the security of our energy supplies and economies. In our security as freedom-loving nations. Autocratic bullies cannot be allowed to coerce or invade their neighbors just because they are strong, or because of previous imperial claims. The international community must not and will not allow borders to be decided by violence. As the Republic of Korea knows from its own history, the trauma of war extends through generations. That is why our countries continue to work together to build a peace in line with international law. This includes taking a principled stance in the UN General Assembly to defend the UN Charter.

Since the start of Russia’s brutal, full-scale invasion, the world has witnessed the people of Ukraine’s incredible strength and bravery. In the face of Russia’s onslaught, Ukraine has had no choice but to exercise its right to defend itself, consistent with the UN Charter. It has done so resolutely and successfully, but at massive cost to its people and its resources. Providing Ukraine the support it needs to defend itself and push Russia out of its sovereign territory is the swiftest and only path to a just and sustainable peace. This includes providing crucial humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people, and support for the largest movement of refugees in Europe since the Second World War. Despite the wrong that has been inflicted on Ukraine by Russia’s aggression, the Ukrainian people have shown incredible resilience amid great suffering. We pay tribute to the Ukrainian people and military, who have shown incredible dedication, courage and determination in defending their homeland under the inspiring leadership of President Zelenskyy.

Ukraine has the right to determine its own future. It has the right to choose its own allies and the right to protect its own borders. It should be able trade with who it wants and secure a peaceful future for its own citizens. We know that the inspiring bravery of the Ukrainian people will ultimately defeat tyranny and protect Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence. What Ukraine wants, what we all want, is peace.

Ambassadors of the 31 co-signees

UK, US, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, the EU, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway. -- Ed.