The Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Antonio Guterressaid this Monday that it is “time to defuse” the tension between Russia and the West about a possible invasion of Ukraine and has asked to reject the “inflammatory rhetoric”.
In a statement to the media after having met with the foreign ministers of Russia, Sergei Lavrov, and of Ukraine, Dmitro Kuleba, the president has appealed to diplomacy, in line with the UN Charter that prohibits the use of threats.
“The price is too high to contemplate“
Likewise, Guterres has warned that a war in Ukraine would be “disastrous”. “I am deeply concerned about the increase in tensions and speculation about a possible military conflict in Europe. The price in human suffering, destruction and damage to European and global security is too high to contemplate,” he said.
According to the head of the United Nations, one should not “accept even the possibility of such a disastrous confrontation.”
Guterres asks to respect the UN Charter
The UN Secretary-General has asked Russia, though without explicitly naming it, to “fully respect” the UN Charter. This document requires its members to refrain “from threat or use of force against territorial integrity or political independence of any State”. “Abandoning diplomacy in favor of confrontation is not crossing a line, it is jumping over a precipice”, he pointed out.
So Guterres has asked the parties to the crisis to resolve their differences “by peaceful means”. Earlier, his spokeswoman, Stéphane Dujarric, said at his daily news conference that the leader still believed there would be no Russian invasion of Ukraine. “I don’t think the view of him has changed at all,” he added.
At a press conference on January 21, the UN chief stated that he considered that “there should be no military intervention.” “I am convinced that this will not happen” and “I strongly hope that I am right”, he added. So far, the organization has not communicated plans to evacuate or relocate UN staff, which has 1,661 employees in Ukraine.
The Security Council is scheduled to hold an annual meeting this Thursday on Ukraine and the implementation of the minsk agreementsreached in 2014 and 2015 to bring peace to the east of the country.
Russia sees dialogue options
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov informed Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that there are possibilities of agreement with the United States and NATO on “key issues” of security guarantees that Moscow demands. The Russian minister stressed that the negotiations “should not drag on forever, but at this stage he would propose continuing and intensifying them” and added that, in his opinion, the Russia’s chances “are far from exhausted”.
Nevertheless, the United States Government has assured that it has not seen “no tangible sign” of de-escalation by Moscow amid growing tensions over the concentration of troops on the border with Ukraine and joint military maneuvers between Russia and Belarus. For this reason, Washington has announced that it has begun the process to “temporarily relocate” its embassy in Ukraine, which will cease its operations in the capital, Kiev, and will move to the largest city in the west of the country, Lviv, near the border with Poland.
For its part, German Chancellor Olaf Scholzwho has started a tour on Monday in which he will visit Kiev and Moscow and has already met with the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, has demanded from Russia an “urgent signal” of de-escalation.