The Baltic States, including Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia on Wednesday expressed deep concern over the humanitarian situation in Ukraine resulting from relentless Russian aggression that has now entered day 35. In a joint statement to the UN Security Council (UNSC), the Baltic States renewed calls against Russia to withdraw from its ex-Soviet neighbor accusing Russian forces of “systematic bombardment, terrorising civilians and causing appalling human suffering.” The letter also slammed Russia for “grossly violating international law” with support from Belarus.

“Russia, aided by its accomplice, Belarus, continues its war of aggression against Ukraine, grossly violating international law and causing massive loss of life and suffering to civilians. Russia is directing attacks against the civilian population and targetting civilian objects, including residential buildings, hospitals, care homes, medical facilities and shelters, “the strong and equivocal statement by the Baltic States mentioned.

The statement held Russia accountable for committing war crimes, further calling on them to cease military operations and allow “safe voluntary passage for civilians trapped in war zones.” It also noted the dire humanitarian situation in besieged cities like Mariupol, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Sumy, and areas close to the frontlines that are on the verge of running out of basics like warmers and adequate water supply needed for survival and coping with constant bombardment.

“These actions, which amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity, must stop immediately. Those responsible and their accomplices must be held accountable in accordance with international law. The siege of Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities and the denial of humanitarian access by the Russian military forces are unacceptable, “the statement read.

Notably, the letter comes after UN General Assembly (UNGA) on March 24 adopted the resolution ‘Humanitarian consequences of the aggression against Ukraine’ with an overwhelming support of 140 UN member states.

Impact of Russian war ‘is reaching beyond Europe’

The Baltic States also called on Russia for an immediate release of hostages and ensure safe corridors for unhindered delivery of humanitarian aid to those in need. Emphasising the sparring number of people fleeing from Ukraine to neighboring countries, the letter pointed out that “the war has caused the fastest and largest displacement of people in Europe since World War II.” According to the letter, at least 10 million people, or one-quarter of the Ukrainian population, including one in every two children have been displaced.

In the wake of the crisis, women and children are faced with the looming dangers of getting trafficked. At least 3.8 million have fled to Moldova, Romania, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. The Baltic States have also sheltered at least 74,000 refugees. This evidently proved that the “impact of Russian war is reaching beyond Europe,” the statement said. The war further has left millions of people globally “on the brink of famine as a result of increased food insecurity” after Ukraine (one of the world’s largest food exporters) has stopped business.

Slamming Russia for completely disregarding humanitarian law, the Baltics said Moscow must comply with the obligations underscored in order by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It also reiterated calls for Russia to withdraw forces from Ukraine and respect its territorial integrity and sovereignty.

(Image: AP)

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