‘Enough is enough’, says UN chief over Ukraine crisis at UNGA

UNITED NATIONS, Feb 28 (Alliance News): UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for an immediate end to Russia’s military operations in Ukraine, saying, “Enough is enough”.

“The fighting in Ukraine must stop. It is raging across the country, from air, land and sea. It must stop now,” he told an emergency special session of the UN General Assembly on Ukraine.

“Enough is enough. Soldiers need to move back to their barracks. Leaders need to move to peace. Civilians must be protected. International humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld.

The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognized borders, must be respected,” Guterres added. The UN chief also called Russian putting nuclear defences on alert “a chilling development.” “The mere idea of a nuclear development is simply inconceivable,” Guterres said, adding, “Nothing can justify the use of nuclear weapons.”

He said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had estimated a half a million Ukrainians had fled the country, and there were credible reports of damage to residential buildings and critical civilian infrastructure. The UN leader called the death of civilians, including children, “totally unacceptable.”

Guterres expressed the hope that direct talks between Ukraine and Russian delegations would welcome an immediate stop to the fighting and a diplomatic solution. “The sovereignty of Ukraine must be respected,” he said earlier.

Speaking next, Ukraine’s Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told the 193-member Assembly that if his country were crushed, international peace and democracy were in peril. Ukraine “is paying now the ultimate price for freedom and security of itself, and all the world,” he said at the assembly’s first emergency meeting in decade “If Ukraine does not survive… international peace will not survive. If Ukraine does not survive, the United Nations will not survive,” he said.

“Have no illusions. If Ukraine does not survive, we cannot be surprised if democracy fails next.” Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia reiterated his country’s assertions that what it called a “special military operation” in defence of two breakaway areas in Ukraine was being misrepresented. “Russian actions are being distorted and thwarted,” he said.

As Russian and Ukrainian officials held talks on the Belarus border, the UN’s two major bodies — the 193-nation General Assembly and the more powerful 15-member Security Council — both scheduled meetings Monday on the war. In Geneva, the UN Human Rights Council voted to hold its own urgent session. “The guns are talking now, but the path of dialogue must always remain open,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the assembly. “We need peace now.”

The assembly session will give all UN members an opportunity to speak about the war and to vote on a resolution later in the week. US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Sunday the measure would “hold Russia to account for its indefensible actions and for its violations of the UN Charter.” The Security Council meeting, set for later Monday, was focused on the humanitarian impact of Russia’s invasion. French President Emmanuel Macron sought the session to ensure the delivery of aid to growing numbers of those in need in Ukraine.

French Ambassador Nicolas de Riviere said Sunday that France and Mexico would propose a resolution “to demand the end of hostilities, protection of civilians, and safe and unhindered humanitarian access to meet the urgent needs of the population.”

He said it would probably be put to a vote Tuesday. Both meetings follow Russia’s veto Friday of a Security Council resolution demanding that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops.

The vote was 11-1, with China, India and the United Arab Emirates abstaining. Last week, Ukraine asked for a special session of the General Assembly to be held under the so-called “Uniting for Peace” resolution.

It was initiated by the United States and adopted in November 1950 to circumvent vetoes by the Soviet Union during the 1950-53 Korean War. That resolution gives the General Assembly the power to call an emergency session to consider matters of international peace and security when the Security Council is unable to act because of the lack of unanimity among its five veto-wielding permanent members — the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France.

The US ambassador told the Council after Sunday’s vote that members had taken an important step forward in holding Russia accountable for its “unjustifiable assault”. During the Council meeting, many speakers called for diplomatic efforts to peacefully settle the crisis, and said they would be watching Ukraine-Russia meeting expected to take place on the Belarus border Monday.

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