NEW YORK: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday repeated his plea to Russian President Vladimir Putin, made the previous night, to halt the assault on Ukraine and withdraw his troops.
He said that the war is wrong and unacceptable under the UN’s charter but it is still possible to change course and reverse the decision.
Putin announced the start of full-scale militarily operations in Ukraine at the same time Guterres was making his plea for restraint during an emergency meeting of the Security Council at the UN headquarters in New York late on Wednesday night.
“I repeat my plea from last night: Stop the military operation. Bring the troops back to Russia,” Guterres said the following day.
“We are seeing Russian military operations inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine on a scale that Europe has not seen in decades,” he told reporters as he spoke of scenes of “fear, anguish and terror in every corner of Ukraine,” and warned of a rising death toll.
“Day after day, I have been clear that such unilateral measures conflict directly with the United Nations Charter,” Guterres said.
Quoting directly from that charter, he added: “All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.”
The Russian military offensive repudiates the principles to which every member of the UN has committed, he said.
“It is wrong. It is against the charter. It is unacceptable. But it is not irreversible. (In) line with the charter, it’s not too late to save this generation from the scourge of war.”
Decisions made in the coming days will shape the world and directly affect the lives of millions upon millions of people, Guterres added.
The organization is allocating $20 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of Ukrainians, he said.
“We and our humanitarian partners are committed to staying and delivering, to support people in Ukraine in their time of need,” said the UN chief.
“United Nations staff are working on both sides of the contact line, always guided by the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, humanity and independence.
“We are providing lifesaving humanitarian relief to people in need, regardless of who or where they are. The protection of civilians must be priority number one. International humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld.”