I thank ASG Madam Brands Kehris and other briefer for their briefings.
Freedom of religion or belief is an indispensable and universal principle shared by the global community.
In recent years, we have been witnessing countless serious human rights situations which undermine the foundation of people’s lives and societies as a whole. We always stand ready to address the human rights issues affecting international peace and security.
Russia is attempting to employ narratives to paint itself as a guardian of religious freedom.
However, when it comes to religious freedom, we must never forget that Russia has inflicted tremendous damage on religious facilities in Ukraine. We strongly condemn Russia’s attacks on religious sites in Ukraine which are supposed to be protected.
According to the UNESCO, 327 cultural sites, including 124 religious sites, have been damaged since February 2022, when Russia began its aggression against Ukraine. The tragic list would become longer and longer until Russia stops its invasion of Ukraine.
Without peace and stability, freedom of religion will be undermined.
Let me repeat in the strongest possible terms – Russia must withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from Ukraine and respect Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
I thank you, Mr. President.