Protesters gather outside United Nations headquarters as the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine approaches, in New York City on February 23, 2023. LEHTIKUVA / AFP

International news

As February 24 marks one-year of the Russia-Ukraine war, UN chief Antonio Guterres on Wednesday (local time) urged Russia to end the war in Ukraine saying, "War is not the solution, war is the problem."

In a remark to the General Assembly Emergency Special Session on Ukraine, he said, "War is not the solution. War is the problem. People in Ukraine are suffering enormously.

Ukrainians, Russians and people far beyond need peace.  While prospects may look bleak today, we must all work knowing that genuine, lasting peace must be based on the United Nations Charter and international law. The longer the fighting continues, the more difficult this work will be.  We don't have a moment to lose."

The UN Secretary-General said that the one-year mark of Russia's invasion of Ukraine stands as a grim milestone -- for the people of Ukraine and for the international community.

"That invasion is an affront to our collective conscience.  It is a violation of the United Nations Charter and international law.  It is having dramatic humanitarian and human rights consequences.  And the impact is being felt far beyond Ukraine," he added.

Guterres said that Russia's attack on Ukraine challenges the cornerstone principles and values of the multilateral system.

The United Nations Charter is unambiguous, he said, "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 UN chief said that General Assembly addressed, in the clearest terms, the attempt by the Russian Federation to illegally annex four regions of Ukraine -- Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk.

In doing so, the Assembly reaffirmed the longstanding principles of international law in its landmark Friendly Relations Declaration of 1970.  Namely, "the territory of a State shall not be the object of acquisition by another State resulting from the threat or use of force", and "no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal".

He said that the position of the United Nations is unequivocal. "

"We are committed to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders," added the UN chief.

Guterres further stated that 40 per cent of Ukrainians are in need of humanitarian assistance.

"Vital infrastructure has been targeted -- water, energy and heating systems have been destroyed in the dead of winter.  United Nations agencies have also been cooperating with host countries that received more than 8 million Ukrainians -- the largest refugee crisis since the Second World War," he said.

Notably, last week, the United Nations launched a USD 5.6 billion humanitarian appeal for the people of Ukraine.

"I urge your full support.  I have visited Ukraine twice since the start of the war where I heard testimonies of severe violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws.  In this conflict as elsewhere, the United Nations is committed to ensuring justice and accountability," said Guterres.

Speaking on the Black Sea Grain Initiative to advance global food security -- with the support of the Government of Turkey and the United Nations, he said, "Despite ongoing challenges, the initiative to ship grain and other foodstuffs from Ukraine is making a difference.  We are working hard to remove all the remaining obstacles to implementing the Memorandum of Understanding between the Secretariat of the United Nations and the Russian Federation to facilitate exports of Russian food and fertilizers to global markets.  This is also an important contribution to addressing global food insecurity."

Talking about the grave threat related to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant -- the largest nuclear facility in Europe, Guterres said, "I commend the International Atomic Energy Agency for engaging the sides to ensure that the area remains safe.  The security and safety of all Ukrainian nuclear power plants must be guaranteed. The war is also fanning regional instability and fuelling global tensions and divisions while diverting attention and resources from other crises and pressing global issues.  Meanwhile, we have heard implicit threats to use nuclear weapons.  The so-called tactical use of nuclear weapons is utterly unacceptable."


Source: ANI