Ambassador Holland sets out how President Putin’s preconditions for negotiations with Ukraine flagrantly violate OSCE principles.

Neil Holland

Thank you, Madam Chair.  Last month, President Putin delivered a statement to senior Russian officials on the settlement of his war in Ukraine.  He did so as leaders from around the world prepared to travel to Switzerland for the Peace Summit to discuss the foundations of a sustainable peace in Ukraine. 

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the statement, and its timing, was an unsuccessful attempt to try to undermine the Peace Summit.  But since the proposals and themes in it continue to be repeated, we in this room should assess and judge them against the principles guiding relations between participating States – also known as the Decalogue – since these are the foundational principles of this organisation to which we all committed in the interests of our shared security.

President Putin stated that there was no plan to storm Kyiv.  In his words, this was “nothing else but an operation to coerce the Ukrainian regime into peace”.  This is in direct contravention of Article Two of the Decalogue. This says: “No such threat or use of force will be employed as a means of settling disputes”. Madam Chair, peace cannot be achieved down the barrel of a gun.

Among the preconditions for beginning peace negotiations stated in the speech are that Ukraine withdraws its troops completely from Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts. These are all regions that, in addition to Crimea, fall within Ukraine’s internationally recognised borders.  Article Three of the Decalogue says States should “refrain from any demand for, or act of, seizure and usurpation of part or all of the territory of any participating State.”  And Article Four says they should “refrain from making each other’s territory the object of military occupation or other direct or indirect measures of force”.

Another of Russia’s conditions for peace is that Ukraine “abandons its plans to join NATO”.  Article One of the Decalogue on sovereign equality provides for: “the right to be or not to be a party to treaties of alliance.” 

Madam Chair, there are many more such examples, not to mention factual inaccuracies.  The point is that this set of proposals is incompatible with the principles which we have all agreed to abide by, including the imperialistic threat that “Ukraine’s existence in the future” depends on its response to Russian aggression. No matter what our geography or political allegiances are, we should all be deeply concerned at how seriously Russia treats its commitments when those commitments become inconvenient.

It is for Ukraine to determine its own path to peace.  The only peace in Ukraine that will last is one that respects the UN Charter and the OSCE’s principles, a point the global community underlined in Switzerland.  If President Putin wants to deliver that peace, he can do so today by bringing Russia back into alignment with the OSCE Decalogue, which Russia helped draft, and withdrawing from Ukraine. 

Thank you.

Published 11 July 2024