Statement on the Ongoing Situation in Ukraine
Statement from the Foreign Office on the Ongoing Situation in Ukraine
Over the past few weeks the ongoing situation in Ukraine has continued to escalate, with the Ukrainian people facing increased violence and uncertainty. What started as a series of protests has dramatically evolved into a serious geopolitical crisis, one that has serious ramifications not just for the people of Ukraine but for all of Europe and the entire global community. As a result, the government believes it is critical to make our position clear and to outline the steps we will take moving forward.
As we now know, Russian troops have entered Crimea, taking de facto control over the area. With the legitimate government of Ukraine struggling amidst the existing national crisis, Russian forces and their sympathizers cobbled together an unofficial “referendum” on Crimea’s annexation by the Russian Federation. The referendum was called in violation of Ukrainian law, was organized without any oversight from Ukrainian or international officials, and took place while armed Russian soldiers patrolled the streets of Sevastopol. This referendum was not a legitimate expression of the democratic will of free people. It was a political tactic encouraged by the Russian government to advance Russian interests at the expense of the people of Crimea.
Let us all be very clear: we are witnessing an illegal and unprovoked Russian invasion of a sovereign nation. Russian troops have illegally entered into and occupied Ukrainian territory. The Russian government has provided explicit support for separatist groups in Ukraine to the obvious benefit of Vladimir Putin and his government. The sovereign territory of an innocent nation has been compromised by Russian aggression. In a time when many believed the days of illegal invasions and territorial power grabs were long gone, Russia has upended the traditions of the global community and violated international law to promote their own interests.
This cannot stand, and the United Kingdom will do everything necessary to ensure it does not stand. First, we join our friends in the United States, the European Union, and Ukraine in fully rejecting the legitimacy of the illegal annexation referendum. If the people of Crimea genuinely desire a referendum on their political status, one can be organized legally and without the outside influence of Vladimir Putin. Second, the United Kingdom calls on Russia to immediately withdraw all Russian forces from Ukrainian territory including Crimea. It is impossible to consider Russia a genuine partner in resolving this dispute until the threat of military force against Ukraine has been totally eliminated.
Finally, and most importantly, the United Kingdom is calling on the United Nations Security Council to hold an emergency meeting to condemn the Russian invasion and to determine what support the international community will be providing to Ukraine in light of the invasion. This is not a decision the government has taken lightly, rather it is a decision we are obligated to make under international law. The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, an agreement which the United Kingdom, the United States, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine are all signatories of, makes it imminently clear that the United Nations Security Council must take immediate, “action to provide assistance to Ukraine… if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression.” That same memorandum, again of which Russia is a signatory, explicitly requires that Russia, “refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine.” In sending troops to Crimea, Russia has clearly violated the Memorandum, an international agreement made specifically in order to defend the independence and territorial sovereignty of Ukraine. This an agreement the United Kingdom signed on to, and it is an agreement the government is prepared to enforce today.
The Russian Federation has undermined the national sovereignty of Ukraine, and in doing so has violated international law. While the brunt of this illegal act is being faced by innocent Ukrainians, it would be a mistake to assume that the impact of this crisis ends there. This invasion is an affront to the entire global community, an attack on free people everywhere. It is a direct challenge to the international community, testing our commitment to uphold international law and our resolve to defend the right of self-determination for all people. If this invasion is left unanswered, we are sending a message to autocrats around the globe that the illegal use of force will always go unpunished. That is something the United Kingdom will not stand for.
The United Kingdom stands with the people of Ukraine, and this government will continue to vigorously defend free people from oppression and tyranny. The government continues to warn against all travel to the area, and we will continue to update the British people on the ongoing situation.
Member of Parliament for Bracknell
Shadow Foreign Secretary
Chairman of the Conservative Party
Chief Whip of the Conservative party
This is a very strong statement going into an election - it's probably the tone people agree with most, but as with any potentially escalated geopolitical scenario post Iraq, it also leaves them nervous. Also worth noting that at this point you can't do much, so going forward this really puts the ball in Labour's part to act and be resolute if they get into govt (spoiler: they do).