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War in Ukraine remains 'open wound' at heart of Europe: UN chief

"After two years, and a decade since Russia's illegal annexation of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine continues to be a painful issue at the center of Europe," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told the Security Council a session.

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published February 24,2024

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres highlighted the global repercussions of the conflict in Ukraine on Friday, urging Russia to adhere to the UN Charter.

"Two years on-and a decade since Russia's attempted illegal annexation of Ukraine's Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol-the war in Ukraine remains an open wound at the heart of Europe," Guterres told the Security Council a session.

It is high time for peace based on the UN Charter, international law and General Assembly resolutions, he added.

"In any war, everyone suffers. But the people of Ukraine are suffering appallingly from the war inflicted on them by Russia," Guterres said, recalling that over 10,000 civilian men, women and children have been killed.

Damage and destruction of hospitals, schools, health facilities and civilian infrastructure is "frequent and intensifying," he said.

"The UN has documented widespread and disturbing brutality. The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine reported civilians and prisoners tortured, and more than two hundred cases of sexual violence, mostly at the hands of the Russian Federation forces.

"All perpetrators must be held to account," the UN chief stressed.

Many Ukrainians are experiencing the "living nightmare of losing their children," Guterres said, adding nearly 4 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced, and over fourteen and a half million people inside the country need humanitarian assistance.

"The war is also hurting the people of Russia. Thousands of young Russians are dying on the frontlines. Civilians hit by strikes on Russian cities are also suffering. The danger of the conflict escalating and expanding is very real," he underlined.

Guterres stressed that the war is deepening geopolitical divides, fanning regional instability, shrinking the space available to address other urgent global issues.

"In addition, the prospect of this war resulting in nuclear accident chills spines around the world. Both sides to the conflict must take all possible measure to prevent that happening-at all nuclear sites across the country," he added.

The UN will also keep pushing for freedom and safety of navigation in the Black Sea and that badly needed Ukrainian and Russian food and fertilizers, reach the global market, he said.