Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Virtual OSCE Permanent Council Meeting
As delivered by State Secretary Antony J. Blinken,
to the Special Permanent Council, Vienna
February 24, 2023
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Nearly 50 years ago, this body was created to foster security and a true and lasting peace across Europe. Thirty-five nations – including the United States and the Soviet Union – came together to affirm a set of bedrock principles designed to secure that peace, including sovereignty, territorial integrity, respect for human rights. One year ago today, President Putin assaulted those principles when he launched his full‑scale invasion of Ukraine. And Russia has brazenly violated them every day since, seeking to topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government, hold a sham referendum, illegally attempting to seize swaths of Ukrainian territory after its efforts to erase Ukraine’s identity and absorb the nation into Russia failed.
Russia’s forces have committed widespread and systematic attacks against Ukraine’s people, many of which have been documented by the experts at this very organization. Innocent civilians murdered, raped, tortured; hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians forcibly deported to Russia, including children separated from their parents. These are crimes against humanity. Russia’s forces have also repeatedly attacked Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, bombing hospitals and schools, reducing cities to rubble.
The OSCE has done vital work to investigate these atrocities and deploy experts to impartially report on the impact of Russia’s war on the Ukrainian people. And in return, Russia has sought to block the OSCE. Russia’s abused rules to sabotage the OSCE’s budget, forcing this body to operate month‑to‑month, undercutting its ability to undertake long‑term planning. Russia has arbitrarily detained OSCE staff, including several who are still being held 10 months later. There is no justification for these detentions. Moscow should release them immediately.
Despite Moscow’s obstruction, the OSCE continues to do essential work. The OSCE Support Programme for Ukraine, the institution’s first ever veto-proof field mission, will soon be well poised to provide technical assistance to strengthen Ukraine’s cybersecurity as well as the resilience of its energy grids, communication systems, other critical infrastructure, as well as offer support for victims of President Putin’s war. We encourage all states to join in building up this program, which is funded by voluntary contributions.
Over the past year, the overwhelming majority of the OSCE’s 57 participating states have held firm in our shared values. As President Putin’s war enters its second year, we must stay united to keep exposing Russia’s crimes, to keep supporting Ukraine and its people, to keep advancing the international rules-based order that has made the world safer and more secure. The United States will stand with all participating states that remain committed to the principles we all agreed to uphold nearly five decades ago, and we’ll continue to stand with the brave defenders of Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, for as long as it takes. Thank you, Mr. Chair.