Statement by Ambassador Borys Tarasyuk, Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the Council of Europe under item 2.3

23 February, Extraordinary meeting of the Ministers' Deputies (1490th continued)

Thank you Chair,

Two years ago, russia launched its unprovoked, barbaric invasion of Ukraine, fueled by a delusional vision of imperial conquest. They dreamt of crushing our democracy, silencing our voices, and extinguishing our light. Yet, they failed. Ukraine stands strong, battered but unbroken, a beacon of resilience in the face of darkness.

President Zelenskyy, with his unwavering leadership, captured the essence of our defiance: "The people are the heroes." From doctors tending to the wounded in bomb shelters to farmers towing away abandoned tanks, our people have become the living embodiment of courage and sacrifice.

But the cost has been unimaginable. Thousands of innocent lives have been lost, cities reduced to rubble, families torn apart, millions displaced. The scars of this war will run deep for generations.

Yet, amidst the devastation, a new ironclad resolve has forged. We fight not just for our own survival, but for the very values that underpin this Council: democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. These principles are not abstract ideals; they are the bedrock of our existence, the lifeblood of our nation.

russia's aggression is not just an attack on Ukraine; it is an assault on the fundamental tenets of this very institution. Its war crimes, its systematic targeting of civilians, its blatant disregard for international law – these are affronts to the conscience of Europe and the world.

We stand before you today not with a plea for pity, but with a call to action.

First, we call for more weapons. We need the tools to defend our land, to liberate our people, to push back the aggressor, to defend our European democracies and values. Every artillery shell, every tank, every fighter jet sent our way is a step towards peace.

Second, we call for unwavering unity. The international community must stand firm, united in its condemnation of russia's aggression. Sanctions must be tightened, loopholes closed. Diplomatic channels can only be opened once russia respects Ukraine's sovereignty and withdraws its troops.

Third, we call for justice. The perpetrators of war crimes must be held accountable. The establishment of the comprehensive compensation mechanism must be finalized, and a Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression must be created. This is not just about Ukraine; it's about upholding the very notion of international accountability.

Finally, we call for hope. The road ahead may be long and arduous, but we must not lose sight of the ultimate goal: a free, independent, and democratic Ukraine, standing proud within its internationally recognized borders. A Ukraine that contributes to a peaceful and prosperous Europe, a Europe built on the values we all cherish.

President Zelenskyy reminds us: "Light will overcome darkness." In the face of unimaginable suffering, the Ukrainian people continue to hold onto that light. We will not be extinguished. We will prevail. And when we do, it will be a victory not just for Ukraine, but for the principles that bind us all together.

In this spirit, I extend my deepest gratitude to all Permanent Representations, local and government authorities in Strasbourg and France, and to the regular citizens, who have shown their unwavering support for Ukraine by displaying our national flag after the beginning of the full-scale russian aggression. This act of solidarity, though simple, speaks volumes of your commitment to our cause, reminding us that we are not alone in this fight. To each and every one of you who stands with us, who believes in the power of democracy and human rights, I say thank you. Your support fuels our resilience and strengthens our determination to prevail. Together, we are a force of light against the darkness.

Thank you for your continued support. Slava Ukraini!