Ambassador Holland tells the OSCE’s Economic and Environmental Committee that Russia’s commitment to refrain from acts of economic coercion lies in tatters. 

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Neil Holland

I would like to thank you and the Maltese CiO for dedicating a committee session to this topic. It is quite right that our sessions are flexible enough to address the key concerns of the day.  

Mr Chair, can I start by noting that normally when one makes a complaint, it makes sense to stay to listen to the answer just in case it actually addresses or solves the complaint you raised.  We sit and listen to Russian disinformation and propaganda in this building every week with more respect than many of us feel is deserved. So I thought the behaviour of the Russian delegation in registering a complaint and leaving without bothering to listen to your explanation was rude and disrespectful to the Chair. 

Chair, let us be clear when we talk about the ‘destruction of critical infrastructure in Ukraine’ – this is not destruction caused by hurricanes or floods; not even because of human mismanagement or negligence. The destruction is entirely intentional as one participating State – Russia – seeks to break down Ukraine’s resolve. 

In this organisation’s 1975 Decalogue, Russia joined all other States to commit to ‘refraining from any act of military or economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest another participating State’s sovereignty.’ With Russia’s invasion and subsequent assault on Ukraine’s infrastructure, this commitment lies in tatters.  

Mr Chair, this spring Russia has targeted power-plants, electricity sub-stations and gas storage facilities across Ukraine. Russia’s deliberate attacks on civilian infrastructure have caused millions of people to experience restrictions to power, heating, and water; and thousands have been displaced. What is more, these attacks hamper humanitarian efforts to stop the situation getting even worse. 

When Russia has decided to end its senseless war the OSCE could play a key post-conflict role. We were happy to support the OSCE’s assessment of the environmental impact of the war against Ukraine. This, and many other assessments, will be important in holding Russia to account. 

To help, the UK has committed £44 million to the Energy Community’s Ukraine Energy Support Fund, and we encourage others to do the same. Together, we will help Ukraine repair, restore, and defend its infrastructure. We also remain committed to a sustainable recovery. The Ukraine Recovery Conference will support Ukraine’s ambition to build a modern, secure, decentralised, and cleaner energy system, fit for a Net Zero future and with greater integration with Europe. 

Thank you.

Published 31 May 2024