Moscow must halt its war against Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said addressing Russian President Vladimir Putin both on Twitter and from his headquarters in New York.
“President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia,” Guterres stated. “In the name of humanity, do not allow to start in Europe what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century, with consequences not only devastating for Ukraine, not only tragic for the Russian Federation, but with an impact we cannot even foresee in relation to their consequence for the global economy in the moment when we are emerging from COVID-19.”
Guterres said economic recovery will be more difficult with the high price of oil and wheat as a result of the war.
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“This war doesn’t make any sense,” he said, noting that Russia’s military action violates the conditions of the UN Charter. “This is the saddest moment in my tenure as secretary-general of the UN.”
Guterres spoke after a special late-night session of the Security Council, chaired by Russia, which holds the body’s presidency for the month of February.
During the meeting, Ukraine’s ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, called on his Russian counterpart, Vasily Nebenzya, to recuse himself.
“Relinquish your duties as a chair,” Kyslytsya said as he urged Nebenzya to call Putin and ask him to halt the war. “There is no room in purgatory for war criminals, they go straight to hell.”
Retorted Nebenzya: “We are not being aggressive against the Ukrainian people but against the junta that is in power in Kyiv.”
After the meeting, a reporter asked Kyslytsya if he had a response to Nebenzya’s explanation of Russia’s actions.
“You can’t be serious,” Kyslytsya said. “You want me to dissect the crazy lunatic semantics of a person whose president violated the [UN] charter, whose president declared a war and you ask me to interpret it? It’s lunacy. It’s lunacy, absolutely.”
Kyslytsya told reporters that the war against his country had begun in 2014 with Russia’s military action against Crimea.
“It is a historical embarrassment to humanity and to this particular organization that it has failed to take the necessary actions in the course of the last eight years,” he said.
Kyslytsya explained that he planned together with other countries to put forward a resolution against Russian actions at the Security Council on Thursday, and called on members to support it.
The text has little chance of passing given that Russia is one of five countries with veto power.
Putin announced the start of his military attack against Russia while the Security Council was meeting to discuss it, and US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield noted the timing of Russia’s actions.
“At the exact time as we are gathered in the council seeking peace, Putin delivered a message of war in total disdain for the responsibility of this council,” she said. “This is a grave emergency. The council will need to act.”