HRC49 – Item 4: General Debate – Intervention by Estonia – 21 March 2022

Mr President,

Estonia fully aligns with the statement delivered by the EU. Estonia is deeply concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation all over the world, but on the 26th day of the large-scale war in Europe, we must focus on Russian Federation military aggression against Ukraine.

Russian military forces have killed thousands of innocent people in Ukraine, including more than a hundred children. Tens of thousands of civilians have been injured. Densely populated cities and critical infrastructure, including the orphanages, kindergartens, schools and hospitals, have been indiscriminately bombed and destroyed. Russia’s actions in Ukraine have all the characteristics of war crimes and crimes against humanity and amount to violations of international law. The International Court of Justice ordered the Russian Federation to suspend immediately the military operations in Ukraine. There are no responses from Russia.

Freedom of the media and opinion has been completely suppressed in Russia. We strongly condemn the attempts to silence media sources and voices that challenge systematic manipulation and disinformation efforts by government-controlled media channels. The words of the Russian president when he calls war critics “national traitors” and characterizes the repressions as “the natural and necessary self-purification of society” are extremely dangerous.

We also condemn the involvement of Belarus in this aggression against Ukraine and the repression of anti-war protesters in Belarus. Equally alarmingly, Belarus continues to exacerbate the already extremely troubling situation for media freedom in their country.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine will have global and long-term negative consequences, changing the rules-based international order as we know it, if we let it go unanswered. If Russia continues this war and violations of humanitarian and human rights law, this Council should act.

I thank you!