This group is devoted to elaborate on obtaining long lasted missing justice for the nations of the North Caucasus. It is also dedicated to concentrate on human rights issues that had been abducted when the invaders conquered and colonized the region.
KEY MESSAGES ON RUSSIA’S WAR AGAINST UKRAINE As Of 23 May (89th Day Of War)
We fight against the Russian aggressor, defending not only our state, but also democratic values and freedoms, and the right of nations to freely choose their own future. Ukraine’s victory will be a victory for the whole Europe, which will become much safer and secure when Russia’s military machine will be dismantled and Kremlin’s capacities to launch invasions against other countries will disappear;
Russia is preparing for a long-term war, constantly replenishing its occupation forces. Ukraine, with the support of our partners, will fight as long as it is necessary to win. Ukraine’s victory would mean restoring our sovereignty and territorial integrity within the internationally recognized borders: this approach is shared by our partners. The ceasefire in itself cannot be an objective: we will strive for the withdrawal of Russian troops;
Russia’s current objectives in the war are to occupy the entire territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, secure the land corridor to Crimea and complete the occupation of southern Ukraine, retaining control over the already seized areas. Severe shelling and fighting continue in the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kharkiv, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions. Ukraine’s coast of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov remains blocked. Russia continues launching missile and bomb strikes on military and civilian infrastructure throughout Ukraine;
Lukashenka’s regime in Belarus continues to provide logistical support to Russia and increase military pressure on Ukraine’s northern border without directly going to war. Russian troops in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova remain in full operational readiness with the same purpose of diverting a part of Ukraine’s military;
Even though Russia has thrown all its resources against Ukraine, the war is not going as planned by Kremlin. We managed to seize the strategic initiative. Ukrainian defenders repelled attacks of the first weeks of the war and forced Russian troops to leave the Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy regions. The counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine continues in the Kharkiv region. Russia suffers daily heavy losses in manpower and military hardware, its resources (although still enormous) are depleting fast. Kremlin did not dare to declare a general mobilization and continues to replenish the losses with forced conscription (including in the temporarily occupied parts of Ukraine), mercenaries, and private military companies. The population of the Russia-controlled areas of Ukraine continues to fiercely resist the occupation;
In order to be able not only to defend itself, but to liberate the Russia-occupied territories as well, Ukraine needs modern NATO standards arms (air defense and UAVs, artillery systems, MLRS and tanks, armored vehicles, combat aircraft, anti-ship missiles) and ammunition. We need constant logistical support including fuel and finances to accelerate the victory. In the long run, Ukraine must be entirely re-armed, ensuring interoperability of our Armed Forces with the NATO countries. We hope the second “Ukraine Contact Group” meeting of defense ministers on 23 May would significantly contribute to this process;
Given all the crimes committed by the Russian army in Ukraine, continuing negotiations with Russia is a challenging task. Still, we are ready to do that with the aim to end the war, liberate the occupied territories and save lives. The negotiations must be based on restoration of territorial integrity and economic recovery of Ukraine. We have proposed a new system of security guarantees, which is currently under discussion;
When the war ends with Ukraine’s victory, Russia will face a radically different situation. Ukraine’s Armed Forces will be interoperable with the NATO. Russia’s neighbours, Finland and Sweden have applied for NATO membership. NATO allies are expected to define Russia’s behavior as a direct threat to the Alliance in an upcoming strategic document. Putin’s regime will be shaken by international isolation, economic crisis, and decreased popular support.
2. HUMANITARIAN SITUATION
Faced with military defeats and vigorous resistance, the Russian troops continue indiscriminate attacks on Ukrainian cities with missile strikes and heavy artillery. Dozens of thousands of civilians lost their lives, many more were wounded. Nearly 220,000 people lost their homes. More than 13,000 civilian infrastructure facilities were destroyed and damaged, including roads and bridges, educational and medical institutions, water and electricity networks, cultural and religious sites. Vast areas are mined;
The worst humanitarian situation remains in the localities along the front line and in those temporarily occupied by Russia. The most worrisome locality is the city of Mariupol almost entirely destroyed by Russian attacks, with dozens of thousands of casualties and forceful deportations by the Russian occupiers. Looting, tortures, willful killings and abductions are widespread in the occupied areas;
Millions of Ukrainian citizens were forced to flee from war: 8 mln became IDPs and 55mln left abroad. Almost 1.4 mln were deported by Russia to its territory. Many thousands were rescued through the humanitarian corridors – most recently from Mariupol’s “Azovstal”. The evacuation of “Azovstal” defenders is over, they will be set free through an exchange of prisoners of war. The number of Ukrainians returning home is exceeding those who are leaving as the Russian troops are pushed back and security situation improves;
We are grateful for warm hospitality demonstrated to our refugees in European countries and elsewhere. Humanitarian assistance continues to flow to Ukraine: it remains critical to millions Ukrainian citizens affected by the ongoing war.
3. ECONOMIC SITUATION
One of Russia’s key goals in the war it has launched is to destroy Ukraine’s economy, to make us a “failed state”, which would not be able to resist Russia’s pressure and influence. As a result of armed hostilities, destruction of infrastructure, and interrupted logistical chains (most critically, blocked Ukrainian ports), a major part of economic activity has stalled in Ukraine. Every next day of the war makes the situation even worse, so we need to defeat Russia and liberate our territories as soon as possible;
In 2022, the GDP of Ukraine may drop by 30-50% and inflation can reach 20%. Monthly budget deficit caused by war is nearly 5 bln USD. Russia’s invasion has damaged or destroyed up to 30% of Ukraine’s infrastructure at a cost of 100 bln USD. The overall infrastructure and economic losses can exceed 1 trln USD in the coming years;
Russia’s war against Ukraine is a threat to global food security: ~90 mln tons of agricultural produce remain blocked in Ukraine. If Ukrainian ports do not resume export, this will cause a large-scale humanitarian crisis in the world: 400 mln lives are at risk of unstable access to food, malnutrition and famine. Russia’s statements that sanctions against it are the reason of rising food and energy prices throughout the world are fake: it takes place as a result of Russia’s war and blockade of Ukrainian ports. Russia is blackmailing the world by food and energy in the hope that it would force Ukraine to end the war on Kremlin’s terms;
The Government of Ukraine is making every effort to keep Ukraine’s economy afloat (supporting relocation from the war zone, cutting red tape, launching lending and state financial leasing programs, ensuring welfare benefits to IDPs and restoring infrastructure in the liberated areas);
The generous financial and technical international assistance is warmly welcomed. This is a contribution of our partners to their own security, as defending Ukraine prevents Russia from bringing new wars and crises. Grants are a priority, as Ukraine should not bear the increased debt burden being in defensive war;
Restoring and increasing Ukraine’s export is a critical element of post-war recovery. We appreciate the opportunities provided by the recent decisions and announcements by the EU, UK and Canada to remove duties and quotas on Ukrainian exports. The US will temporarily suspend a part of tariffs on Ukrainian steel.
4. RUSSIA’S RESPONSIBILITY
During their invasion into Ukraine, the Russian troops systematically violate the norms of international humanitarian law and international human rights law: deliberate and indiscriminate attacks on civilians; their use as hostages and human shield; execution and rapes; forceful conscription and kidnapping; attacks on medical personnel and facilities; use of banned weapons and many others;
Russia flagrantly violates international law (including by attacking civil ships, Ukraine’s environment and cultural heritage) and Ukraine’s sovereignty (by introducing its laws, passports, currency and education in the occupied territories of Ukraine);
President Putin and his proxies responsible for the war against Ukraine have to be sentenced as war criminals. The war launched by Kremlin is widely supported by the Russian society, which shares responsibility for it. Russia must be recognized as a state – sponsor of terrorism, and the Russian Armed Forces must be recognized as a terrorist organization;
We welcome all steps made by the international institutions to bring Russia to justice, as well as statements made by the heads of state and government throughout the world, on Russia’s responsibility for war crimes. All cases of violation of the provisions of international and international humanitarian law must be registered by the respective international bodies (the OSCE Moscow mechanism Report of 13 April as an example);
Ukrainian law enforcement agencies launched investigations into >000 war crimes and crimes of aggression committed since 24 February 2022;
A separate investigation into the crime of genocide is being conducted. The International Criminal Court opened its own full-fledged investigation at the request of 42 countries and joined the joint investigation team of Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland;
Russia’s diplomatic and political isolation must continue: the international organizations need in particular to consider banning Russia’s membership for blatant violations of international law (as, for instance, the Council of Europe did) and dismissing Russian citizens from their Secretariats to eliminate Russia’s influence.
5. FURTHER ACTIONS BY THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
We need modern NATO arms and ammunition (air defense and UAVs, artillery systems, MLRS and tanks, armored vehicles, combat aircraft, anti-ship missiles) to be able not only to defend ourselves, but to liberate the Russia-occupied territories as well. The faster we receive them, the sooner the war will end and the less casualties will take place;
Sanctions against Russia must be further strengthened and expanded, as well as introduced by those countries which have not made this until now. The world has to stop buying Russian commodities (most notably, oil and gas), which continue to finance Kremlin’s war against Ukraine (as of 23 May, the EU paid 54 bln EUR for fossil fuels to Russia since its start). The oil embargo within the EU sixth package is the priority now. Any lifting of sanctions has to be agreed with Ukraine. Russia’s frozen foreign exchange reserves and assets abroad need to be used for compensations to Ukraine and Ukrainian citizens for the damage dealt by Russia’s war: this can be done through a multilateral agreement;
Ukrainian people are dying for the freedom of Ukraine and Europe. Support for Ukraine’s accession to the EU increased to a record 91%, the highest figure in the history of independent Ukraine. We strive for a full-fledged EU membership: no alternative options would be appropriate. The first step will be obtaining the candidate status in June. European integration must be an integral part of Ukraine’s economic recovery. Trade and transport between Ukraine and the EU should be liberalized as fast as possible;
Russia must be economically and politically isolated from the world, losing its levers and capacities to influence decision-making in other countries (withdrawal of private business, banning Russian propaganda channels, ending Russia’s influence in politics, diplomacy, business, sports, culture, research and other spheres, introducing visa regime, expelling from international financial institutions etc).