ONE-YEAR OF WAR AGAINST UKRAINE: Acting together to ensure international law will prevail

24 February marks the sad first anniversary of the Russian unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine. The date calls for a reflection on the consequences of the invasion to its parties, their neighbours, and the whole international community. The European Union stands as a stalwart ally to Ukraine fully supporting its right, not only to self-defence but also to choose its own political future.

The last 12 months of Russian attacks have brought immense tragedy with countless atrocities committed by the Russian occupation forces in places with names that joined the infamous dictionary of war crimes such as Bucha or Irpien. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a violation of fundamental values and principles of international law including the rules established by the United Nations. Ukraine is an independent and sovereign state. The Ukrainians decided on their independence from Moscow’s domination through a democratic referendum in 1990. Russia accepted that result and co-signed the so-called Budapest Memorandum of 1994 that guaranteed the security of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, i.e. including Crimea. Therefore, any attempts to forcefully deprive Ukrainians of their nationhood or part of their territory through a forceful annexation, as it is being done by Russia, is nothing else but a blatant violation of the international treaties and the UN Charter itself.

That is why the only possible reaction of the European Union and its Member States to this aggression is clear condemnation of the Russian actions and unwavering support to Ukraine through all lawful means. So far, this has included six United Nations Resolutions supported by a vast majority of the members of the UN General Assembly, including the EU Member States. Other means encompass adopting ten different packages of sanctions on Russia where EU acted alongside a group of more than 40 like-minded states representing over 50% of the world’s GDP. The EU and its Member States have also delivered over 67 billion EUR of military and non-military assistance to support Ukraine’s capacity to defend its territorial integrity and nationhood as well as all possible humanitarian aid to ease the suffering of the civilian population targeted by indiscriminate Russian strikes.

The EU and its Member States also share a strong conviction that the crimes and atrocities committed during the war in Ukraine cannot go unpunished. That is why we spare no efforts to ensure accountability of the perpetrators of the violations of the international law of war. We actively participate in the ongoing works within the United Nations focused on preserving the central and critical role of the International Criminal Court in the global justice system. Conscious of this, Russia launched information warfare all over the world. Aggressive war propaganda and disinformation campaigns include justifying or denying atrocities and crimes against civilians, false accusations against EU member states as acting against the interests of Ukraine or shifting the blame of the global food and energy crisis on the countries supporting Ukraine’s right to self-defence. 

The EU is fully aware that the conflict is affecting food and energy security of many of our international partners, including in Africa. It is leading to price hikes and dramatic impact on the most vulnerable. That is why the Russian trade of food and fertilizers has never been targeted by European Union sanctions. For the same reason the EU has positioned itself at the forefront of global efforts to support countries struggling with food insecurity: the EU’s ‘Solidarity Lanes’ initiative has so far enabled the export of 23 million tonnes of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine through land routes to global markets. In parallel, the EU-supported the United Nations Black Sea Grain Initiative enabling the export of more than 17.4 million tonnes of grain. Both initiatives have contributed to a drop in global food prices over the last months.

Additionally, the European Union and its Member States (“Team Europe”) committed 1.6 billion EUR (4 trillion TZS) to contribute to food security in the most affected countries in the Sahel, Lake Chad, and the Horn of Africa. The EU has considerably increased its humanitarian funding in the Greater Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda) from 214 million EUR (535 billion TZS) at the beginning of 2022 to 377 million EUR (942 billion TZS) at the end of last year.

The European Union respects the traditional non-alignment stance in foreign policy of many of its partners, including Tanzania. What we merely ask is that all members of the international community stand on the side of the United Nations Charter, uphold the international legal system and defend the rule of law.  It is important to recall that both the African countries and the EU recommitted to these goals at the 2022 EU-Africa Summit, as it was reflected in the Joint Vision for 2030.

These are the values that lay at the core of the European Union and are imprinted in our political DNA. They have allowed us to overcome centuries of enmity, conflicts and violence on our continent and to bring about an unprecedented period of peace, growth and prosperity to all the citizens of our European community. We believe that our success story of integration instead of confrontation can be replicated worldwide. The condition is that we all respect the inherent right of each country to choose its own destiny without facing threats to its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and security of its people.


By, the Ambassadors of the European Union and of the European Union Member States resident in Tanzania