A resounding message of support for Ukraine as NATO PA Annual Session kicks off

18 November 2022

The 2022 Annual Session of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) opened today with an extraordinary meeting of the Ukraine-NATO Interparliamentary Council (UNIC). Meeting six of their Ukrainian colleagues, 35 NATO lawmakers reiterated their unwavering support for Ukraine as it continues to face Russia’s brutal aggression. 

Opening the meeting, Michal Szczerba (Poland), Co-Chair of UNIC, denounced Russia’s all-out assault against Ukraine. “Russia’s war machine targets cities and destroys critical infrastructure across Ukraine. Their terrorist tactics mean that many Ukrainians face water, electricity and heating cuts every day,” he deplored. “Russians launched another massive attack on Ukraine's energy infrastructure. It was the largest attack since the beginning of the ongoing war. Russia’s actions against Ukraine are escalatory. The attacks are aimed at provoking a humanitarian crisis and forcing Kyiv to make concessions. Recent incident in Polish territory is also a result of this escalation.”

“Russia must stop its reckless war urgently and withdraw from all of Ukraine”, Mr Szczerba urged.

Ukrainian lawmakers thanked their counterparts for the ongoing military assistance provided to Ukraine, which was making a real difference on the ground. Participants committed to continuing and increasing that effort. 

“We must reaffirm our determination to stand firmly by Ukraine’s side – for as long as it takes until we all prevail,” underlined NATO PA President Gerald E. Connolly (United States). “The stakes are truly about the future of liberal democratic values, about ways of life that infuse the human spirit with freedom, versus the alternative, the absolute suppression of those freedoms. Every day, Ukrainians fight for their democratic future. We must stand by them.”

Participants also called for more sanctions and stepping up the pressure on the Russian leadership. 

“The Russian Federation is a terrorist state,” stressed Yehor Cherniev, Head of the Ukrainian delegation to the NATO PA. ”I am urging everyone to unequivocally condemn Russian aggression and state terrorism against Ukraine and the whole civilised world, including indiscriminate shelling of civilian infrastructure and critical energy infrastructure objects. Russia’s actions must be recognised as what they are acts of genocide of Ukrainian people. Those responsible must be brought to account.”

“The Polish Senate and parliaments in other NATO states have already declared Russia a state sponsor of terrorism,” Mr Szczerba noted, calling for more parliaments to follow suit. “We must also further isolate Russia at the United Nations and in other international organisations.”

Mr Szczerba also called upon governments from NATO countries to support the International Criminal Court and other relevant international bodies in investigating the war crimes, crimes against humanity and potential acts of genocide committed by Russia. “All criminals should be held accountable. This must include the Russian leadership. Our Assembly already supports a Special Tribunal to prosecute Russia’s crime of aggression in Ukraine. We must reaffirm this support here in Madrid and help make this special tribunal a reality,” Mr Szczerba stressed.

The UNIC Co-Chair emphasised that the NATO PA has long supported Ukraine’s aspiration to become a member of the Alliance: “Ukrainians are dying on the battlefield every day. They do that to defend democracy, Euro-Atlantic security and the international rules-based order. We must reaffirm that Ukraine belongs in the Western family of democracies,” Mr Szczerba underlined.  

“We are well aware that formal accession of Ukraine to the Alliance is possible only after the end of the full-scale war of Russia against our country,” noted Mr Cherniev. “At this moment, we call on the Allies to support our application and invite Ukraine to start negotiations to join the Alliance.”

Members of UNIC reaffirmed their steadfast commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders and to stand with Ukraine for however long it takes to prevail.

“Any peace negotiations would be possible only after the complete withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine,” Mr Cherniev added.

UNIC was created in 1998 to bring greater transparency to the implementation of the NATO–Ukraine Charter and to demonstrate parliamentary interest and involvement in cooperation between NATO and Ukraine. It has since become a wider forum where members can discuss any issues of mutual concern. UNIC has held several extraordinary meetings since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion, including one in Lviv, Ukraine in May 2022. 

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