Tue. Oct 4th, 2022

New York, 21.09.2022

Press remarks by High Representative Josep Borrell in the UN on the latest escalation by Russia

Check against delivery!

Good afternoon.

What President Putin announced today constitutes another major escalation in the unprovoked war that he has launched against Ukraine.

It looks like he is speaking in a measure of panic and desperation. Putin is doubling down a failing strategy.

By the threat of using nuclear, he is trying to intimidate Ukraine and all countries that support Ukraine. But he will fail. He has failed and he will fail again.

Unfortunately, this latest escalation is in line with the approach taken by the Russian regime until now.

Putin’s threat to use “all weapon resources at our disposal” – this was his sentence – implies the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. And such a threat is unacceptable.

Threatening with nuclear weapons is a real danger to the whole world. The international community has to react in front of this threat.

Doing it on the International Peace Day is even more cynical. Maybe it is a coincidence, but it is particularly shocking to hear such threats during the United Nations General Assembly when the world community unites to work on peace and progress.

Russia’s Putin is demonstrating again that it completely disregards the international norms, rules and principles. Rules, principles and norms that we have all signed [up to] – Russia also – as members of the United Nations. And these rules and principles start with territorial integrity.

The intention to annex territories occupied by force since February 2022 and to hold sham referenda will not change their legal status. They are and they will remain internationally recognised as an integral part of Ukraine. And this is not going to change by holding sham referendum.

Now it is clear that Russia wants to destroy Ukraine by all means, violating international law and the United Nations Charter since the beginning. But now it looks like Russia’s Putin wants to destroy Ukraine. The international community gathered here in New York needs to take the full measure of what is at stake.

The [United Nations] Security Council will meet and discuss about Ukraine tomorrow in [the light of] this new scenario. I will speak on behalf of the European Union to the Security Council. I will have the great honour and responsibility of addressing the Security Council on behalf of the European Union at that critical moment.

And tonight, immediately after hearing about the words of Mr Putin, I am convening an extraordinary and ad-hoc informal meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Ministers with the purpose to agree on a common line. And the common line – I am sure – could be summarised saying that we will not be intimidated and we will continue our full support for Ukrainian sovereignty and democracy, and continue working for this war to stop as soon as possible – before going into bigger challenges, before facing bigger threats, and before the international community has to react to such threats.

Thank you.

Q&A

What do you expect from the [Foreign Affairs Council] meeting tonight? And how seriously does the EU take the nuclear threats from Putin? What in concrete [terms] will their response be?

You know that we already had the usual [informal] Foreign Affairs Council meeting that we always have when we are here in New York. We held it on Monday. Now, I have to convene another one because I think that the [EU Foreign Affairs] Ministers have to discuss about these threats, to reiterate the continued support to Ukraine and to alert the international community about the unacceptable situation in which Putin is putting all of us. The Ministers will discuss, and I can anticipate that they will discuss about how to continue our military support to Ukraine, how to continue putting pressure on Russia. The issue of sanctions will for sure be on the table. We have already said that in case of holding this kind of referenda, in case of annexation, new sanctions will come. So, I will start proposing what to do with sanctions.…