Russia invasion 'not irreversible,' UN chief says, pledges $20 mn aid

Dozens of deaths have already been reported, and there is 'fear, anguish and terror' across Ukraine, Guterres said
Last Updated 24 February 2022, 20:34 IST

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is unacceptable but "not irreversible," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Thursday, as he announced a $20 million tranche of emergency aid for victims of the conflict.

For the second time in less than 24 hours, the United Nations chief appealed directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, urging him to call off his forces and return them to Russia instead of openly repudiating the UN Charter's principle against one country using force against another.

"It is wrong, it is against the Charter, it is unacceptable. But it is not irreversible," Guterres said in a brief statement delivered at UN headquarters in New York, as he criticized Russia for its military incursion "on a scale that Europe has not seen in decades."

"Stop the military operation," he urged Putin, reiterating his message from late Wednesday during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. "Bring the troops back to Russia."

Dozens of deaths have already been reported, and there is "fear, anguish and terror" across Ukraine, Guterres said.

In response to the assault, the United Nations is scaling up its humanitarian operations "in and around Ukraine," notably an allocation of $20 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund to meet urgent needs, he added.

"We are providing lifesaving humanitarian relief to people in need, regardless of who or where they are," Guterres said, saying the protection of civilians must be "priority number one."

The decisions to be made in the coming days will "shape our world" and directly affect millions of people," he added. "It's not too late to save this generation from the scourge of war."

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(Published 24 February 2022, 20:34 IST)

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