Russia's "military offensive" inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine is "wrong" and against the UN Charter but not irreversible, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, reiterating his appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop it. Urging Putin to bring back the Russian troops, the UN chief said the decisions of the coming days will "shape our world" and affect the lives of millions.
"We are seeing Russian military operations inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine on a scale that Europe has not seen in decades. Day after day, I have been clear that such unilateral measures conflict directly with the United Nations Charter," Guterres said here on Thursday, a day after Russia launched a military operation against Ukraine. Quoting the UN Charter, Guterres said the use of force by one country against another is the repudiation of the principles that every country has committed to uphold.
"This applies to the present military offensive. It is wrong. It is against the Charter. It is unacceptable. But it is not irreversible," he said. Guterres once again appealed to Putin to stop the military operation in Ukraine.
"Stop the military operation. Bring the troops back to Russia. We know the toll of war. With deaths rising, we are seeing images of fear, anguish and terror in every corner of Ukraine," Guterres said, adding that innocent people always pay the highest price in a war. He had first made a direct appeal to Putin during an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine late on Wednesday night just as the Russian leader had announced the military operation.
Guterres called for international humanitarian and human rights law to be upheld, underlining that the "decisions of the coming days will shape our world and directly affect the lives of millions upon millions of people." "In line with the Charter, it's not too late to save this generation from the scourge of war. We need peace," he said.
The 15-nation Security Council, which has had four meetings on the situation in Ukraine since January 31, is expected to vote on a draft resolution on Friday that seeks to condemn Russia's "aggression" against Ukraine. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said in New Delhi that India has seen the draft UNSC resolution but it will undergo "considerable changes."
"We will wait to see the shape that this resolution takes before we can pronounce ourselves," he said on India's position on the issue. "It is an evolving situation both on the ground and in the United Nations," Shringla said.
Guterres announced that the United Nations is scaling up its humanitarian operations in and around Ukraine and will immediately allocate USD 20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to meet urgent needs. "We and our humanitarian partners are committed to staying and delivering, to support people in Ukraine in their time of need," he said, adding that UN 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," he said. Spokesperson for the Secretary General Stphane Dujarric said that all UN staff in Ukraine, about 1,500 in number, are safe and accounted for.
"We are relocating some personnel and have instructed staff to take necessary precautions. A core group of mission-critical staff remains working in the areas around the line of contact," he said.