UK Statement on Russia’s Ongoing War of Aggression against Ukraine

Delivered by Ian Stubbs (UK delegation to the OSCE) at the OSCE Forum for Security Cooperation.

From:Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and Ian Stubbs, Senior Military Advisor at the UK Delegation to the OSCE

1 February 2023

Location : OSCE Vienna. Delivered on: 1 February 2023 (Transcript of the speech, exactly as it was delivered)


Thank you, Mr Chair. A year ago, the UK, along with many others in this room, raised our deep concern as Russia massed extraordinary levels of military forces along Ukraine’s borders and in illegally annexed Crimea. By this time, Russia had deployed over 60 Battalion Tactical Groups in the vicinity of Ukraine’s borders and the build-up of its forces and support elements was continuing.

As part of this build-up, Russia and Belarus were conducting Exercise Union Resolve in proximity to Ukraine’s northern borders. Despite attempts to hide the true objectives of the exercise from this Forum, their superficial and disingenuous briefings did little to allay fears and reduce tension – instead increasing suspicion amongst the international community that Russia, aided and abetted by Belarus, was indeed preparing to invade its sovereign neighbour Ukraine.

Mr Chair, the actions of Russia and Belarus that day were just one example of the nefarious and deliberate decisions taken to systematically weaponise Confidence and Security Building measures, including the Vienna Document, to support preparations for the invasion. Russia sought to use these international commitments – which were created to avert escalation, reduce military tension, and build mutual trust between countries – to deceive, undermine and destabilise this organisation.

Mr Chair, in the FSC that day, and not for the first time, we warned that any Russian military incursion into Ukraine would be a massive strategic mistake, one which would come at severe cost. The UK and partners were clear that the only way forward was for Russia to deescalate and pursue a path of diplomacy.

In response, our Russian colleague, who no longer has the courage to remain in this room, expressed “astonishment” at our concerns and reminded us that Russia had stated “at the highest level” that it had no plans to “invade” Ukraine. This was but one lie amongst the torrent peddled by the Russian delegation as it deliberately undermined this Forum, the principles under which we convene, and every participating State in this room. Let us be clear, the campaign of lies, threats and propaganda perpetuated by our Russian colleagues during the build-up to Russia’s illegal invasion demonstrates their own complicity; one which is recorded in the archives of this organisation and so committed to the annals of history. No amount of disinformation can overwrite the lies and deceit.

Mr Chair, on this day last year, the Russian military leadership had already convinced Putin that overwhelming victory was certain – the decision to invade had been made. They were certain the lauded Battalion Tactical Group concept would bring about a swift and decisive defeat of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. And that they as the invader would be welcomed with open arms.

Instead, the poor leadership, discipline, equipment, logistics, and training of Russia’s military contributed to abject failure of the concept. Russia’s ability to conduct combined arms manoeuvre warfare quickly collapsed, and in its place, early 20th century tactics of mass attrition, absent of any effective command and control. Russia’s Battalion Tactical Groups now replaced with convicts and criminals.

Frustrated, the Russian military has unleashed horrendous violence against civilians and civilian infrastructure; it has reduced entire cities, towns and villages to rubble; and attacked Ukraine’s energy infrastructure to deprive families of shelter, light and heat through the winter.

However, despite these horrendous actions, Russia’s invasion has, above all else, demonstrated the strength, resolve and determination of the Ukrainian people as they defend their homeland. With support from their friends and international partners, Ukraine has shown that agility, ingenuity, mission command and effective operational and tactical planning can wield devastating effect against a barbaric invader.

As we continue our support of Ukraine in their heroic resistance, we recognise that while it is important to equip them to defend the land they currently hold; it is just as important to equip Ukraine to push Russia out of Ukrainian territory. Alongside our Allies and partners, the UK’s accelerated package of military assistance, including the provision of Challenger 2 tanks, is recognition of this.

Mr Chair, we do not underestimate the continuing threat posed by the Russian Federation but, Putin and his military leadership should not underestimate our determination and will to support our Ukrainian friends as they fight to liberate their homeland. Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence will be fully restored.

Thank you.

Published 1 February 2023


  1. Good speech and unusually blunt words for a diplomat. Especially the last bit:

    “Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence will be fully restored.”

    That was good, but would have been even better if he had added: “by any means necessary.”

  2. “However, despite these horrendous actions, Russia’s invasion has, above all else, demonstrated the strength, resolve and determination of the Ukrainian people as they defend their homeland.”

    The Ukrainians have set a precedent for other peoples to follow. How many others will shake off the shackles of oppression and/or fascism/communism, as the Ukrainians have? Oppressed peoples of mafia land and bat virus land, do you copy?

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