I thank the High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Ms Izumi Nakamitsu, for her speech. I have also taken note of Mr. Szamuely's comments.
More than 500 days have passed since the start of Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, and the suffering and damage inflicted continues to worsen. Switzerland strongly condemns the attacks perpetrated by Russia which target civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine or affect them disproportionately. They are destroying lives and livelihoods, forcing people to leave their homes, and generating immense humanitarian needs. Access to essential services, including education, is also affected. Only a third of children in Ukraine can receive a full education in person.
In addition, attacks on ports and grain infrastructures continue. Coupled with Russia's decision not to pursue the Black Sea Initiative, these attacks are affecting global food security. The contamination of agricultural land by mines and other explosive devices only exacerbates the difficulties encountered in exporting products from Ukraine.
Switzerland reiterates its dismay at the effects of the war on the civilian population in Ukraine and beyond. They are a direct consequence of Russia's military aggression, in flagrant disregard of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and in violation of the UN Charter. We reject any attempt to justify this act or to deflect responsibility for its consequences. We reiterate our call on Russia to de-escalate the situation immediately, cease all hostilities and withdraw its troops from Ukrainian territory without delay. We also recall that Ukraine, like all States, has the right to defend its territorial integrity and ensure its security.
International humanitarian law must be strictly respected. The parties to the conflict are obliged to ensure that military operations spare the civilian population and infrastructure at all times. In view of the sad news that two humanitarian volunteers were killed and two others wounded in the Donetsk region this weekend, I would like to remind of the fact that they too are protected by international humanitarian law. This incident is one of more than a hundred that have already hampered aid operations in 2023. Humanitarian action is particularly difficult in territories under Russian military control. It is deeply worrying that eastern Ukraine has become increasingly dangerous for humanitarian workers.
Switzerland reaffirms its solidarity with the Ukrainian people. By redoubling our humanitarian and peacebuilding efforts, we are placing their needs and demands at the center. We promote an inclusive and participatory reconstruction process. And we support justice for all victims and the fight against impunity.
Finally, Switzerland welcomes and supports diplomatic efforts to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the United Nations Charter.