Statement of Ambassador Sullenberger to the ICAO Council Regarding Russian Aggression in Ukraine

FEBRUARY 25, 2022

The United States condemns Russia’s unprovoked and massive invasion of Ukraine in the strongest possible terms.  As President Biden said, President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.  Russia alone is responsible for the death and destruction this attack will bring.

Russia’s actions are a violation of international law and the international principles that we as an international community have all pledged to respect:  national sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the right of states to make their own decisions regarding their foreign and security policy arrangements.

We recall that state sovereignty is fundamental to ICAO, as set out in Article 1 of the Chicago Convention.

Russia’s attack from air, land, and sea on the territory of Ukraine – another ICAO member state – represents an unprecedented threat to international security and the safe operation of civil aviation in the region.  Russian military strikes have reportedly targeted infrastructure essential to civil aviation, including airports and radar.

The Council cannot ignore the danger for international civil aviation in the region.  We recall that, in July 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down, killing 283 passengers and 15 crew, from territory controlled by Russia-backed militants – the same area in which the Russian Federation now recognizes two [quote-unquote] “independent” republics.

We remain committed to upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and its airspace above.

We call on Russia to halt its military operations in Ukraine immediately, return its troops and equipment to Russia, and cease all further aggressive activities against Ukraine, including attacks or operations against critical civil aviation infrastructure.

Russia must respect the safety and security of civil air navigation over all of the territory within Ukraine’s internationally-recognized borders, including areas affected by Russian operations, and respect all of its obligations under the Chicago Convention and relevant international civil aviation law instruments.

In particular, Russia must be transparent and timely in sharing relevant safety information for the protection of airline crews and passengers from its ongoing military hostilities.

The Council should publicly condemn Russia’s actions.  There must be consequences for Russia’s unprovoked invasion and the threat that it poses to international civil aviation.