There can be no justification for Russia's attacks against children: UK statement to OSCE Special Permanent Council

Ambassador Holland condemns Russia’s latest missile attack against Ukrainian cities, including a strike against the Okhmatdyt Children’s Hospital in Kyiv.

Neil Holland

Thank you, Madam Chair. On the morning of 8 July, Russia launched yet another prolonged, deadly missile attack against cities across Ukraine, including Kyiv, Dnipro and Kryvyi Rih. President Zelenskyy said that over 40 missiles, including Kinzhal ballistic missiles, were used in the attack. At least 41 people have so far been confirmed dead, with over 170 more injured, although that number is, tragically, likely to rise further.

In Kyiv, the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital – which is the biggest children’s medical facility in Ukraine and the country’s primary provider of specialist paediatric care – was among the buildings struck. There can be no justification for attacks against children. As the UK Prime Minister, Keir Starmer, has said: “Attacking innocent children. The most depraved of actions. We stand with Ukraine against Russian aggression – our support won’t falter.”

This is the latest in a pattern of Russian attacks against Ukrainian civilians and infrastructure. According to the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, the month of May saw the highest number of civilian deaths for almost a year. Other attacks this year have targeted energy infrastructure relentlessly, wiping out 9 GW of Ukraine’s energy capacity and forcing the Ukrainian authorities to implement rolling blackouts across the country. Russia’s armed forces are killing and injuring civilians– and deliberately trying to deprive them of heat, light and water.

Yesterday’s attack against the Okhmatdyt children’s hospital was not an isolated incident. Between December 2023 and April 2024, there has been a fivefold increase in attacks on healthcare facilities in Ukraine. Colleagues, intentionally directing attacks against civilians and civilian objects constitute war crimes. Russia must uphold its obligations under international humanitarian law, including in relation to the protection of civilians, and the special protections afforded to hospitals.

Madam Chair, last week after a General Election, a new government took office in the UK under Prime Minister Keir Starmer. The Prime Minister, on his first afternoon in office, spoke to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and reiterated the UK’s unwavering commitment to Ukraine in the face of Russia’s aggression. The change of government will make no difference to the UK’s steadfast support for Ukraine.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Published 9 July 2024