STATEMENT by the President of the Danube Commission on the Russian attack on the Danube infrastructure 24 July 2023

According to the official information of Ukraine, on the night of July 24, Russia attacked the port infrastructure in one of the Danube ports of Odesa region with “Shahed-136” type UAVs causing a fire, destroying a hangar with grain and tanks for storing other types of cargo.

Russia’s attack on the Danube ports poses a security threat to the freedom of navigation on the Danube, and in the current circumstances can be assessed as a consistent effort to disrupt global food security. These actions are unacceptable.

Almost 75 years ago, the Belgrade Convention on the Regime of Navigation regarding the Regime of Navigation on the Danube was signed with the desire of providing for free navigation on the Danube in accordance with the interests and sovereign rights of the Danubian States and in order to strengthen the economic and cultural relations of the Danubian States among themselves and with other nations.

On 17 March 2022, during the 12th extraordinary session the Representatives of the member states adopted the Decision concerning the military aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, violating the basic principles of the Belgrade Convention (doc. DC/SES-XII Extr./3). According to this decision the full powers of all representatives of the Russian Federation have been declined; they have been excluded from the participation in all meetings at the Danube Commission and its working bodies until the restoration of peace, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.

The actions of the Russian Federation once again violate the letter and spirit of the Belgrade Convention and its fundamental principles, the interests and sovereign rights of the Danube States and undermine the economic relations of the Danube States throughout the region.

The attack on Ukrainian Danube port infrastructure undermines the implementation of the Commission’s “Danube Solidarity Lane Initiative for EU-Ukraine Trade”, which is being implemented by the DC Secretariat in cooperation with the European Commission in the framework of the Solidarity Lanes to ensure the continuity of trade and, in particular, the export of agricultural products from Ukraine.

The Danube Commission has already emphasised the real threats to the security and use of Ukrainian Danube ports posed by the military aggression of the Russian Federation, and has also held the Russian Federation responsible for the economic damage that has already been and continues to be caused to transport and transshipment activities along the entire Danube by the military dangers in the Danube Delta and the Black Sea.

Last year, we established a new Committee for the preparation of the Diplomatic Conference regarding the regime of navigation on the Danube. Russia is not a member of this Committee and I urge the members of the Committee to do everything in their power to ensure that Russia is no longer a member of either the Belgrade Convention or any other convention that may be adopted to replace it.

Russia must be brought to justice for the damage or destruction of civilian infrastructure on the Danube in Ukraine.

I call on the Member States and observers of the Danube Commission to take all measures, both bilaterally and multilaterally, in order to ensure Russia to be held accountable for its actions.