OSCE: Press remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell ahead of the Ministerial Council in Poland

Good morning,

As High-Representative of the European Union for Foreign and Security Policy and Vice-President of the [European] Commission, I am attending the [Ministerial Council] meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to participate in the strong condemnation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine

This is a violation of international law. It is also a violation of the principles of the OSCE. Russia has brought the war to Europe, has undermined the United Nations Charter and its [own] international obligations.

Russia is unable to conquer Ukraine. It is unable to win the war, so it is destroying Ukraine systematically: bombing, destroying all civilian infrastructure. Their purpose is to put the Ukrainian people into the darkness and the cold in the winter. It is weaponising the winter. This is a war crime.

At the OSCE meeting, we will address the situation and study how to reinforce the OSCE through common multilateral efforts, in order to pave the way for a new security order in Europe. Because we need a new security order in Europe, after Russia has broken completely the one that we had.

In this meeting, I will be presenting our support – the European Union’s support – to the OSCE and to Ukraine. I will announce an additional contribution of more than €1 million for demining operations in Ukraine through the OSCE.

More importantly this afternoon, in the meeting about the accountability for the Russian crimes and atrocities, I will present a proposal of the High Representative, together with the [European] Commission, in order to support the work of the International Criminal Court (ICC) – which is already working a lot – to support the Ukrainian Prosecutor [General] to gather evidence of these atrocities, and to support the proposal for a special tribunal dedicated to this issue – to the war crimes in Ukraine.

But this has to be approved by the Member States of the European Union first, and gather the stronger support of the United Nations, with a bigger number of countries.

Our proposal will be on the table, along the three lines of work: strong support to the [International] Criminal Court; strong support to the Ukrainian Prosecutor [General]; strong support to the proposal of creating a Special Tribunal – but this has to be discussed and approved first, by the Member States of the European Union and after, to gather support at the United Nations.

And secondly, I already said many times that Russia has to pay for the reconstruction of Ukraine. The reconstruction of Ukraine will require an incredible amount of resources because the country is being destroyed systematically, and to rebuild it will cost. There are many figures around but whatever the figures are, we know they will be very high.

We have seized almost €20 billion [from] oligarchs and people supporting Russia. And also, we have control of about €300 billion of financial resources of the Russian Central Bank.

This amount of money has to be used for the reconstruction of Ukraine. So, I will meet with my colleagues Foreign Ministers – today with many more than the Ministers of the European Union. We will explore all legal possibilities to make sure that Russia will pay for the destruction it is causing in Ukraine.

These reserves are blocked but [between being] blocked and being seized, there is a strong difference. There are legal procedures that need to be studied, but our proposal is on the table.

Also, we will work with the Ministers [for Foreign Affairs] of Azerbaijan [Jeyhun Bayramov] and of Armenia [Ararat Mirzoyan]. I think that it is a historic opportunity to achieve a sustainable peace to this conflict in the South Caucasus.

We have strongly encouraged Armenia and Azerbaijan to seize this opportunity. We are ready to deploy a mission that could help to bring calm, cease fire and talks between the parties.

Thank you.


The EU is preparing right now a new package of sanctions against Russia. What is your expectation in this case?

Look, sanctions are always underway, but I understand that you are looking always for the new sanctions, when the important thing is to implement the sanctions already adopted. We have already adopted big packages of sanctions against Russia, and this has to be effectively implemented avoiding circumvention. It is as important to implement the sanctions than to adopt the sanctions. Believe me, it is not so easy to implement because there are always methods and people who try to circumvent the sanctions. We are working hard in order to make the sanctions be effectively implemented. Will [there] be new sanctions? Yes, [there] will be new sanctions, but I cannot tell you now which ones will be [adopted].

Do you think that the capacity of decision or even the importance of this Summit can be limited by the absence of the Russian Minister [for Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov]?

This is an important meeting and an opportunity to reaffirm that the international community represented here supports Ukraine and pushes for stability and security in Europe. All participating states are represented: all, even Russia is being represented. And it is up to the Member States to allow or to refuse visas for individuals to enter on its territory. Poland has decided not to allow the Foreign Affairs Minister of Russia to enter into Polish territory – it is a prerogative of Poland –, and Russia is being represented by its Ambassador.

Will you be meeting the US representatives here? The European Union is very worried about the Inflation Reduction Act. Is this something that you will be discussing here? What does the European Union intend to ask its US counterparts to do in order to ease European concerns about this US measure?

Well, as you know, at the European Union, we are concerned about the consequences of this – let’s say – anti-inflationary Act. We are concerned and we have expressed our concerns. My fellow colleagues in charge of economic issues are in touch with the US authorities in order to study which are the consequences of this measure. You know, every measure that is taken against inflation can also have collateral effects from the point of view of trade, but it is not the issue of this meeting.