‘We must continue to give our Ukrainian friends all the support they need’ Boris tells world leaders

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to world leaders during a virtual call to the Crimea Platform conference 9 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the Crimea Platform summit virtually today (23rd August 2022).

The Crimea Platform is a new international consultation and coordination format set up to develop the initiative put forward by President of Ukraine.

The aim of the platform is to improve the effectiveness of the international response to the ongoing occupation of Crimea and respond to growing security threats. The platform also aims to increase the international pressure on the Kremlin, preventing further rights violations and protecting victims of the occupation regime, as well as achieving the main goal – deoccupation of Crimea and its return to Ukraine.

The main areas of the Platform’s activity are as follows:

  • consolidation of policy of non-recognition of the attempted annexation of Crimea;
  • efficiency of sanctions, their strengthening and closing loopholes for circumvention;
  • protection of human rights and international humanitarian law;
  • ensuring security in the region of Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and beyond, protecting the freedom of navigation;
  • overcoming of adverse economic and environmental impact of the occupation of Crimea on the region.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to world leaders during a virtual call to the Crimea Platform conference 9 Downing Street. Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Below is a transcript of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s speech, exactly as it was delivered:

I want to congratulate President Volodymyr Zelenskyy particularly for bringing us together and focusing our attention on Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea because that land grab in 2014 was the direct precursor to today’s war, and we should have the humility to acknowledge that not everyone realised the sheer enormity of what was happening at the time.

All of our countries however reacted with strength and unity after Putin escalated his onslaught against Ukraine on the 24th February this year, but the first act of this tragedy opened eight years earlier – almost to the day – when Russian forces began fanning out across Crimea, and taking control of a peninsula seizing which constitutes 10,000 square miles of sovereign Ukrainian territory.

At a stroke, Putin forcibly annexed the territory of a European country –  and forcibly redrew a European frontier for the first time since 1945.

He ignored the fact that Russia itself had repeatedly recognised Crimea as being part of Ukraine, and he broke so many international agreements that I cannot list them all, but they include Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and the Russia-Ukraine Treaty of Friendship.

And ever since the annexation , the people of Crimea have endured a brutal and systematic campaign of human rights abuses by the Russian authorities, including the persecution of the Tatars, arbitrary arrests, with a tenfold increase in detentions in last year, and the restriction of land ownership to Russian citizens.

Once he had grabbed Crimea, Putin deployed more and more Russian forces in the peninsula, turning the territory into an armed camp from which to threaten the rest of Ukraine, and Crimea duly became the launch pad for the invasion on 24th February. Or one of the launch pads. And I’m afraid that all this has even greater salience today because Putin is planning to do to parts of Ukraine, in fact all of Ukraine,  what he has done to Crimea, and he is preparing more annexations and more sham referendums.

So it has never been more important for all of us to stand together in defence of the foundational principle of international law, which is that, no territory, no country, can acquire territory or change borders by force of arms, and it so follows that we will never recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea or any other Ukrainian territory.

In the face of Putin’s assault, we must continue give our Ukrainian friends all the military, humanitarian, economic and diplomatic support that they need until Russia ends this hideous war and withdraws its forces from the entirety of Ukraine.

Thank you all very much.

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