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Ambassador Neil Holland says that Ukrainian civilians continue to suffer while Russia refuses to engage constructively on the world stage.

Thank you, Mr Chair. We strongly condemn the huge wave of Russian missile attacks overnight. These strikes, which have hit cities across Ukraine, have already resulted in loss of life, and brought yet more suffering to Ukrainian civilians. These happened in the early hours of the UN International Day of Peace. Once more, Russia has shown it is willing to sink to any depths in its brutal war of aggression against Ukraine.

Later during this Council we will discuss Russia’s detention of OSCE officials. I want that to be the focus of the UK contribution this week. But I would also like to recall the G7 Foreign Ministers statement last week on the sham elections Russia held on sovereign Ukrainian territory. This was a futile attempt to legitimatise Russia’s illegal presence in Ukraine and consolidate its control over the four oblasts it attempted to annex last year. Such actions will never be tolerated. The UK and its partners will never tire of calling out Russia’s violations of international law.

On a more positive note, I wanted to note for the record how heartening it was to be in Prague last week to take part in the Economic and Environment Forum. It was telling that so many participating States gathered to talk about a set of issues that impact each and every one of us – and all of our citizens, whose interests we are meant to be representing here at the OSCE. Russia’s attempts to block this event were a shame. It seems as though the consensus that should exist among us around the environment and the climate in particular is yet another casualty of Russia’s illegal, unprovoked war. Thank you.