UN chief slams Moscow’s accession plans for Ukrainian territories as void

UN chief slams Moscow’s accession plans for Ukrainian territories as void
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Russia’s going forward with the annexation process “is a dangerous escalation, has no place in the modern world and must not be accepted,” UN Secretary-General Guterres said

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Russia’s plans to annex four occupied regions in Ukraine would be an illegal move and must not be accepted.

“Any decision to proceed with the annexation of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine would have no legal value and deserves to be condemned,” UN chief told reporters in New York on Thursday.

Guterres urged Russia as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to respect the UN Charter.

Russia on Thursday announced that President Vladimir Putin will sign the accession treaties with the four occupied Ukrainian territories in a ceremony to be held in Kremlin Palace on Friday. Donetsk, Lugansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions said yes to joining Russia in referendums held between Sept.23 and Sept.27. 

“In this moment of peril, I must underscore my duty as Secretary-General to uphold the Charter of the United Nations,” Guterres said in response to Kremlin’s announcement. 

“The Charter is clear. Any annexation of a State’s territory by another State resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the Principles of the UN Charter and international law,” he said.

As one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, Russia “shares a particular responsibility” to respect the UN Charter, Guterres said.

Russia’s annexation move cannot be reconciled with the international legal framework and “stands against everything the international community is meant to stand for,” the UN chief said. 

“It is a dangerous escalation. It has no place in the modern world. It must not be accepted,” he said.

Underlining the UN’s “unequivocal” commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine, Guterres said “the so-called referenda – conducted during active armed conflict, in occupied areas, and outside Ukraine’s legal and constitutional framework – cannot be called a genuine expression of the popular will”.

Guterres warned that any decision by Russia to go forward will further jeopardize the prospects for peace.

“It is high time to step back from the brink. Now more than ever, we must work together to end this devastating and senseless war and uphold the UN Charter and international law,” he said. 

According to Reuters, the United States which denounced the referendums as “sham”, is set to introduce a resolution at the UN Security Council, urging member states not to recognize any change to Ukraine. Washington is also preparing a new round of sanctions against Russia, should it annex Ukrainian territory, Reuters said on Wednesday.