NEW YORK, USA – Russia’s plan to annex four occupied regions in Ukraine would be an illegal move, a violation of international law, and should be condemned, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Thursday, warning of a “dangerous escalation” in the seven-month war.
“In this moment of peril, I must underscore my duty as Secretary-General to uphold the Charter of the United Nations,” he told journalists in New York.
“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.”
Responsibility to respect
The UN chief was speaking after the Kremlin announced that a ceremony will be held in Moscow on Friday to formally launch a process to annex the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia.
The development follows recent so-called referendums where residents of these regions took part in a voting process – that the UN political affairs chief said on Tuesday could not be regarded as legal – on whether they wanted to become part of the Russian Federation.
The secretary-general stressed that as one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, Russia “shares a particular responsibility” to respect the UN Charter.
“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,” he said.
Against international order
The move “cannot be reconciled with the international legal framework “and “stands against everything the international community is meant to stand for,” he added.
“It flouts the Purposes and Principles of the United Nations. It is a dangerous escalation. It has no place in the modern world. It must not be accepted.”
Guterres underlined the UN’s unequivocal commitment to the sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Peace in peril
He 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.
“Any decision by Russia to go forward will further jeopardize the prospects for peace. It will prolong the dramatic impacts on the global economy, especially developing countries and hinder our ability to deliver life-saving aid across Ukraine and beyond,” he said.
“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.”