Marianne Van Steen | Calls for peace in Ukraine
More than 14 months ago, Russia invaded Ukraine launching an unprovoked, undeclared and illegal war in breach of all international rules and of the UN Charter. Such an act of aggression had not happened on the European continent for a long time. It constitutes a blatant violation of international law and this has been condemned by the European Union and its member states, by the countries of CARICOM, including Jamaica, and by the great majority of UN member countries.
More than one year on, the consequences of that action are so devastating that truth might be forgotten. Fact is that Russia has started an unprovoked war and we have all witnessed that in a volatile global and interdependent economy, the consequences thereof have gone far beyond the tremendous war scenes, human suffering, war crimes and crimes against humanity on the frontline; they impact each and every one of us, even when living far away from the warzone. The European Union, along with other partners all over the world, stood up against this act of aggression by imposing sanctions and sending weapons to Ukraine to allow it to better defend itself against the atrocities committed against its citizens.
MAKE PEOPLE FORGET
Unfortunately, with time passing by, events are being presented in another light or in a way that makes people forget how it all started. Some new narratives are in fact clouding the truth and are playing on emotions and on the fatigue that has set in as the war drags on. People are indeed longing for peace, wanting to see inflation decrease, to see food chains going back to normal and to have access to affordable energy. And they are being told that the negative impact of the war is caused by the sanctions imposed on Russia and that the war continues because ‘The West’ is not willing to negotiate. Fact is that the sanctions have not triggered the food and energy crisis from which the world is suffering. Fact is that Russia has invaded the bread-basket of the world, has turned the shipping lanes of the Black Sea into a war zone and has bombed storage facilities and blocked millions of tons of grains from Ukraine. Fact is that Russia is using hunger as a weapon of war.
The European Union’s sanctions are exclusively focused on crippling Russia’s war economy. None of them has hindered trade of food or fertilisers. On the contrary, the European Union has lent its support to facilitate ‘solidarity lanes’, ensuring that these could reach the countries that need them most. We stopped buying gas and petrol from Russia because we do not want to feed Russia’s war machine, and of course we are not selling semiconductors to allow more Russian tanks to invade a sovereign country.
WE ALL WANT PEACE
Calls for peace are increasing. And that is good because we all want peace. The ones that want it more than anyone else are the people of Ukraine. They do not want to be bombarded every day. Their young men do not want to fight, nor be separated from their wives and children. They have not asked for, nor provoked, this war. But they do not want peace at the price of their country’s sovereignty and their individual and collective freedom.
The European Union wants peace as well. The war is at our doorstep and endangers our 73-year-old peace project, which is the essence of the European Union. However, if one country can be invaded by another and must surrender to guarantee world peace, then that is not the kind of peace the European Union can defend.
The European Union does not ask the world to choose sides. We want the world to stand in support of an international rules-based order, for the respect of the UN Charter, the one and only. As was underlined by Ambassador Hernán Pérez (Ecuador) speaking at the UN a couple of weeks ago, there is no UN Charter for the North and one for the South, not one for the East and another one for the West; there is only one UN Charter. We need to uphold the international rules-based system if we do not want to live in a world where ‘might makes right’.
Marianne Van Steen is ambassador, delegate of the European Union. Belgian Ambassador Hugo Verbist, Spanish Ambassador Diego Bermejo Romero de Terreros, French Ambassador Olivier Guyonvarch and German Ambassador Jan Hendrik van Thiel contributed to this report. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.