Will be ‘catastrophic’, says UN Secretary-General if Russia-Ukraine crisis escalates into war

Underlining that there was “no alternative to diplomacy,” the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday warned that it would be “catastrophic” if the Russia-Ukraine conflict escalated into a war.

Russia on Friday announced nuclear drills against Ukraine, even though leaders of West nations looked for ways to ease the tensions.

Russia has concentrated between 169,000 and 190,000 personnel in and near Ukraine, up from about 100,000 on January 30, according to US estimates.

“With a concentration of Russian troops around Ukraine, I am deeply concerned about heightened tensions and increased speculation about a military conflict in Europe. I still think it will not happen. But if it did, it would be catastrophic,” Guterres on Friday said while addressing the opening segment of the Munich Security Conference.

Emphasizing that there is “no alternative to diplomacy”, the UN Chief said that all issues, “including the most intractable, must be addressed through diplomatic frameworks. It’s high time to seriously de-escalate.”

Guterres urged “all parties” to be extremely careful with their rhetoric and cautioned that public statements should aim to reduce tensions, not inflame them.

If Russian President Vladimir Putin moves forward with an invasion of Ukraine, US Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday heralded NATO unity during the escalating crisis and warned Russia that the “US and Western allies stood ready to respond with tough sanctions.”

On Friday, head of the separatist government in Ukraine’s Donetsk region, Denish Pushilin announced the evacuation of civilians to Russia amid soaring tensions.

Cautioning that miscommunication or miscalculation can make a minor incident between powers escalate out of control, causing “incalculable” harm, Guterres added that the UN’s system remains fully operational in Ukraine, including its humanitarian work in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

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