Joint statement by Ambassadors of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
Freedom is a universal right. Freedom to live in peace and security. Freedom of speech. Freedom to vote and elect our legislative representatives and government. These freedoms are enshrined in the UN Charter to which there are 193 signatories around the world, including all our countries and the 10 members of ASEAN. Tragically, these basic freedoms are under threat in Ukraine — a sovereign state and UN member since 1991.
On February 24, President Putin of Russia ordered his military to invade Ukraine. This follows Russia’s attempted annexation and illegal occupation in 2014 of the Crimea region within Ukraine, which was condemned by a majority of countries in the UN General Assembly (UNGA). Ukraine has done nothing to provoke these illegal actions by Russia, which are a clear and flagrant violation of international law, the UN Charter, Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Ukrainians simply wish to exercise their legitimate right to live in freedom and peace, like Indonesian citizens.
This conflict has major consequences for the global community: how we treat each other as nations and as individuals based on international law and the responsibilities of our UN membership. It has had an immediate impact on the global economy, already struggling with supply chain difficulties, labor shortages, dramatic number of refugees and rising inflation due to COVID-19. Since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, energy, transport, commodity, and food prices have spiked around the world.
Although Europe seems far away, what happens in Ukraine matters to us all. As Elie Wiesel said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victims. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” Like ripples on a pond, the consequences of this crisis will hit the Indo-Pacific region, which needs to join condemnation of Russian aggression, so we can continue to build back better from the pandemic.
Our countries, the UN, EU, NATO and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) have been working hard together for years to defuse regional tension and forge a peaceful resolution to this conflict (notably through the Minsk Agreements). These efforts have accelerated in recent months. Meanwhile, Russia continued to escalate tensions by stationing substantial military resources on Ukraine’s borders and in the Black Sea area, through large military exercises and directly threatening Ukraine with the use of force.
Since Russia’s illegal, unprovoked and premeditated military invasion of Ukraine, the death toll has tragically risen including many Ukrainian civilians. Ukraine’s neighbors and other European states are understandably concerned about the tragic security situation in Eastern Europe. UN Secretary-General António Guterres swiftly condemned Russia for its egregious and illegal invasion of Ukraine. Our countries have united to condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s unprovoked aggression and express heartfelt solidarity with Ukraine. Public protests in many countries are growing and a clear sign of global support for Ukraine.
Our countries have also imposed unprecedented and hard-hitting economic sanctions against Putin, his inner circle, and their advisors. These will inflict severe and lasting costs, make it difficult to finance the war and encourage Russia’s leadership to halt hostilities and give peace a chance. The impacts of these sanctions are growing and already undermining Russia’s room for maneuver.
On February 25, the UN Security Council (UNSC) met to pass a resolution condemning Russia’s severe and illegal breach of the UN Charter for threatening global peace and security; and calling for an immediate ceasefire and a peaceful resolution. Predictably, as a permanent member of the UNSC, Russia exercised its veto power and blocked the resolution. However, 11 of the 15 UNSC members voted in favor with only three abstentions.
The resolution has, rightly, left Putin and Russia exposed and isolated on the world stage. On March 2, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to reprimand Russia for invading Ukraine, demanding Moscow stop its offensive and immediately withdraw all troops, with 141 states including Indonesia, voting in favour of the motion.