UK military advisor, Nicholas Aucott, says Russia’s attack in Hroza was despicable, killing more than 50 people, but notes Russia continues to blunder as it shoots down one of its own fighter jets.
Madam Chair, before I turn my attention to Ukraine, I would now like to say a few words about the terrible events that unfolded over the weekend in Israel. The UK strongly condemns Hamas’ appalling acts of terror against Israeli citizens, and we call for an end to the attacks on Israel. Hamas’s indiscriminate use of violence and the resulting civilian casualties is horrific. The number of Israeli citizens killed has surpassed 1,200 and continues to rise. The taking hostage of over one hundred Israeli citizens is heinous. The UK stands steadfast in support of Israel and its right to self-defence. Hamas does not represent the legitimate aspirations of Palestinian people and offers them nothing other than more terror and bloodshed. Hamas’ despicable acts have also resulted in the deaths of over 830 Palestinians in Gaza and at least 19 Palestinians in the West Bank.
Turning now to events in Ukraine, it has been two weeks since this Forum last sat and during this period we have unfortunately witnessed Russia continue its despicable attacks, causing the death and destruction of Ukraine’s civilians and civilian infrastructure. Russia conducted heavy shelling over the weekend in Kherson and Donetsk resulting in several civilian casualties. This comes after Russia’s missile strike in the village of Hroza which killed more than 50 people, including an 8-year-old boy. Reporting estimates that Russia killed one in five of the population of Hroza in one single event.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian people are resisting Russia’s unprovoked attack with resolute conviction. While the fighting is hard going, Ukraine continues to enjoy success on the battlefield. Ukrainian headway in clearing Russia’s minefields and defensive fortifications has taken time and cost many lives. But Ukraine has made steady progress. Ukraine’s armed forces recaptured more than half the territory Russia seized illegally in February 2022, including Snake Island, Kharkiv and Kherson. Russia has been unable to defend Bakhmut, the only gain in Russia’s winter counter-offensive. And, since this Forum last met to discuss Ukraine, Russia has committed further blunders, shooting down one of its own Su-35 jets. In contrast, Ukraine’s armed forces have shown bravery, ingenuity and determination in reclaiming their land.
A critical aspect of Ukrainian success has been the sustained pipeline of military aid that the United Kingdom and our partners have provided to Ukraine. As a key member of the Ukraine Defence Contact Group, the United Kingdom will continue in its military support to Ukraine for as long as it takes. In a demonstration of the United Kingdom’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine, the United Kingdom has also committed £4.7 billion to non-military support.
Madam Chair, Russia continues to spend vast resources on its self-destructive war. The longer Russia fights, the more Russia loses, and the weaker Russia becomes. Russia has suffered almost 200,000 casualties and 50,000 fatalities. In spite of this, Russia continues with this morally abhorrent campaign. Declassified intelligence warned last month that the Russian military had attempted a missile strike against a cargo ship in the Black Sea. The UK declassified further intelligence last week showing that Russia may continue targeting civilian shipping, including by laying explosive devices in the approach to Ukrainian ports. Once again civilians and civilian infrastructure will bear the brunt.
As my Foreign Secretary said: “Russia’s pernicious targeting of civilian shipping in the Black Sea demonstrates Putin’s total disregard for civilian lives and the needs of the world’s most vulnerable. The world is watching – and we see right through Russia’s cynical attempts to lay blame on Ukraine for Russia’s attacks. We and our allies stand united against Putin and his attempts to harm Ukraine, and thus harm the rest of the world.”
Madam Chair, as we have highlighted many times in this Forum, we are presented with the clear situation of Russia, as a member of this organisation, having ruthlessly invaded Ukraine without provocation. We have also highlighted previously the multiple civilian deaths following Russian strikes in Kremenchuk and Kramatorsk. It is truly tragic, therefore, that we must now add the name of Hroza to the list of events which display the very depths of Russian depravity. In the face of these horrors, Ukraine will continue to fight for as long as is necessary and the United Kingdom will remain unwavering in its support. Thank you.
Source : Gov.Uk