United Nations: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has made a direct and strong appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop his troops from attacking Ukraine and “give peace a chance”.

Guterres addressed an emergency UN Security Council meeting on Ukraine late Wednesday night, the second meeting this week and the fourth since January 31 as tensions escalated between Russia and Ukraine. Earlier in the day, the UN chief had addressed the UN General Assembly meeting on Ukraine.

I want to reaffirm what I expressed this morning in the meeting in the General Assembly, but of course it would not make any sense to bother you reading again the same text that I am sure you are all aware of, Guterres said in his brief off-the-cuff remarks at the Security Council meeting requested by Ukraine.

In between, during the day, a number of events took place…But simultaneously, today was full of rumours and indications that an offensive against Ukraine was imminent. In the recent past, there were several situations with similar indications, similar rumours. And I never believed in them, convinced that nothing serious would happen. I was wrong. And I would like not to be wrong again today.

So, if indeed an operation is being prepared, I have only one thing to say from the bottom of my heart: President Putin, stop your troops from attacking Ukraine. Give peace a chance. Too many people have already died, he said.

The UN chief’s appeal came before President Putin, in a televised address, on Thursday announced a military operation in Ukraine, claiming it’s intended to protect civilians.

Putin said Russia’s move came in response to threats emanating from Ukraine. He also warned other countries that if they attempted to interfere with the Russian military operation they would see consequences they have never seen .

Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo told the Council that it cannot be predicted exactly what will happen in the coming hours and days in Ukraine.

What is clear is the unacceptably high cost in human suffering and destruction of an escalation. The people of Ukraine want peace. I am certain the people of Russia want peace. We must do everything in our power to ensure that peace prevails, she said.

DiCarlo said that earlier in the day, the so-called authorities of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics requested military assistance from Russia. The Ukrainian authorities declared a nationwide state of emergency and announced other related defense and security measures, including the mobilisation of reservists.

This evening, different media are reporting of an ongoing large-scale military buildup and military columns moving towards Ukraine. The Russian Federation has also reportedly shut airspace to civilian aircraft near the border with Ukraine, she said.

DiCarlo said while the UN cannot verify any of these reports, if these developments were confirmed, “they would greatly aggravate an already extremely dangerous situation .

Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba tweeted that Ukraine requested the urgent meeting of the Security Council due to the appeal by Russian occupation administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk to Russia with a request to provide them with military assistance, which is a further escalation of the security situation”.

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