OSCE parliamentarians condemn Russian military action in Ukraine, call for de-escalation at Vienna Winter Meeting

240222 plenary 1OSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt, Vienna, 24 February 2022VIENNA, 24 February 2022 – Referring to the Russian military operation in Ukraine as “indefensible” and a “gross violation of international law,” OSCE parliamentarians gathered in the hybrid Winter Meeting urged an immediate end to the hostilities and a return to diplomacy. Some 28 parliamentarians took the floor in an open debate, with most expressing clear opposition to the incursion and deep concern for the lives of civilians in Ukraine.

Opening the discussion, OSCE Chairman-in-Office and Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, OSCE PA President Margareta Cederfelt, and President of the Austrian Parliament Wolfgang Sobotka reiterated the role of the OSCE in facilitating dialogue and building confidence.

In his remarks, President Sobotka said that Austria condemns Russia’s attacks on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, emphasizing that the international community can never concede that “might makes right.” The twisting of history, he said, cannot negate the right of Ukraine to its sovereignty. “Today the OSCE principles are being violated on a broad spectrum,” Sobotka said. “Our hope is that diplomatic relations should be able to turn the tide and relaunch the Minsk process.” He expressed particular support for the civilians who suffer under hostilities – the ones who suffer first and suffer the most, he said.

Foreign Minister Rau stated, “Russia’s unprovoked all-out invasion against Ukrainian cities and villages constitutes a fundamental breach of the UN Charter and Helsinki Final Act. Invoking article 51 of the UN Charter to justify this crime against humanity is deplorable and shameful. We condemn, in the strongest possible words, this act of aggression.”

“We expect the Russian side to honor its international obligations and commitments. Any sustainable, political solution must fully respect sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of Ukraine,” Rau underscored.

President Cederfelt stressed the OSCE PA’s steadfast support for the resolution of the conflict based on core OSCE principles such as the inviolability of frontiers and the indivisibility of security.

“The Russian military invasion of Ukraine is an armed aggression in clear and gross violation of the most basic norms of international law and OSCE principles and commitments,” President Cederfelt said. “Today more than ever, parliamentarians must exercise their oversight role, rather than enable their governments to breach international commitments. Parliaments must be tools for de-escalation, not weapons of confrontation.”

240222 helga schmidOSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid addresses the Standing Committee, 24 February 2022OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid spoke to the OSCE PA Heads of Delegations, Bureau members, Special Representatives and Chairs of Ad Hoc Committees at the Standing Committee Meeting today. In her remarks, the Secretary General condemned, in the strongest terms, the Russian military action against Ukraine.

“It did not need to be this way. But Russia chose force over dialogue. Dialogue was offered. By the OSCE, by its Polish Chair. By others. Including NATO, the US, and European capitals. Options for dialogue were not exhausted,” Schmid said.

During the open debate in the Joint Session of the General Committees, the Head of the Ukrainian Delegation Mykyta Poturaiev described the situation that his country faces, with large-scale military operations in Ukraine’s biggest cities. He warned that if Ukraine falls, there will be no European security.

Parliamentarians from across the OSCE area expressed alarm over the current security situation, with several remarking that the recent developments represent a major threat to peace not only in Ukraine but the whole of Europe. This is a time for the Parliamentary Assembly to stand with Ukraine, it was stressed. OSCE parliamentarians underscored that the focus now must be on halting the escalation of conflict and preventing a wider war, urging a return to bilateral and multilateral dialogue. Diplomacy remains relevant, it was emphasized, but sanctions were also called for as a deterrent.

Russian parliamentarian Tatiana Kusaiko said that the military operation in Ukraine is intended to protect civilians in Donbas.

240222 plenary 2President of the Austrian Parliament Wolfgang Sobotka, OSCE PA Secretary General Roberto Montella and Head of the Ukrainian Delegation Mykyta Poturaiev, Vienna, 24 February 2022The debate was held under the theme Security Guarantees and the Indivisibility of Security in Europe: Role of the OSCE.

Being held today and tomorrow in a blended format with some 50 parliamentarians gathering in-person in Vienna and many more participating online, the Winter Meeting is an opportunity for parliamentarians to interact with the governmental side and executive structures of the OSCE.

The general committees are meeting to discuss the preliminary ideas of committee rapporteurs for their reports and draft resolutions being prepared for this year’s Annual Session in Birmingham, United Kingdom. The OSCE PA’s Committee on Political Affairs and Security, chaired by United States Congressman Richard Hudson, is holding a debate this afternoon on the theme Heightened Tensions in the OSCE Area and the Need for Interparliamentary Dialogue.

Tomorrow, the OSCE PA’s committees on human rights and economic and environmental security will meet for more debates.

The meeting is streaming live at www.oscepa.org and photos are available for public use at the OSCE PA’s Flickr page.

Video is available at the PA's YouTube channel.



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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