OSCE Winter session 23.-24.2.2023

Russia’s illegal war against Ukraine started a year ago. More than 7.000 civilians have been killed so far, over 440 of them children. Thousands of young soldiers have died in this war. Millions of Ukrainians have fled the country. What kind of a nation does that? Not any great nation, but a sad, disillusioned nation with a grim outlook on their own future. We condemned this attack a year ago and we condemn it today. We will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. This war has been lasting too long.

One disturbing news from the warfront is the deportation of children. During the Russian invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Ukrainian children have been abducted, deported, and forcibly adopted to the Russian Federation. The Ukrainian government has collected information on close to 15,000 Ukrainian children forcibly deported to Russia.  The real number might be as high as 121,000 according to the Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights. The russification of Ukrainian children is a flagrant violation of human rights. OSCE needs to condemn the deportation of children in the strongest possible terms. Forced deportations from occupied territories are war crimes. These forced deportations and displacement are being used to change the demographic makeup of parts of Ukraine so that the Russian Federation is not only trying to destroy Ukrainian democracy but also Ukrainian identity and culture.

I would like to congratulate Ukraine on having succeeded on keeping the society and public institutions running, although the Russian attacks towards civilians and civilian infrastructure have been severe. Currently, Russia’s sabotage at the Kahovka dam could deprive more than a million Ukrainians of their drinking water. According to the Ukraine’s Minister of Environmental Protection, Ruslan Strilets, lowering the dam’s water level can lead to a decline in biodiversity, and it can also disrupt the operation of the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant’s turbines and safety systems. Normally, the water level of the artificial lake is 16 meters, but at the moment it is below 14. Dropping the level below 12 meters poses a threat of environmental disaster.

The war in Ukraine is a shocking humanitarian crisis. My thoughts are with the Ukrainians and all who suffer because of war. Finland, as well as all the democratic world, has been condemning Russia´s brutal attack on Ukraine. The Russian attack is a reminder of how we must continue our efforts to maintain and strengthen our democracies. Despite the war, Ukrainians have managed to keep running their country. I admire this and wish that they keep the morale all the way until pushing the Russians out of their territory.

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