UNITED NATIONS: The Russian invasion of Ukraine is unacceptable but “not irreversible,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Thursday, announcing the $20m tranche of emergency aid for victims of the conflict.
For the second time in less than 24 hours, the chief of the United Nations appealed directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin, asking him to withdraw his forces and send them back to Russia, rather than openly rejecting the UN Charter’s principle against the use of force by one country against another.
“Wrong, against the Charter, unacceptable. But it’s not irreversible,” Guterres said in a brief statement at UN headquarters in New York, criticizing Russia for “military action on a scale Europe has not seen in decades.”
Other world leaders have also reacted to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with raw anger and unprecedented sanction oaths that mask a sense of inability to defend Ukraine militarily without risking a wider war in Europe.
The European Union and NATO member Lithuania declared a state of emergency as the Baltic nation borders Russia’s Kaliningrad region to the southwest and Russia’s ally Belarus to the east. NATO countries put 100 jets and 120 ships on high alert as a deterrent.
“Make no mistake: We will defend every ally against any attack on every inch of NATO territory,” said NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
European Commission Presidents Ursula von der Leyen and Stoltenberg described the invasion as a “barbaric” attack on an independent country that threatens stability in Europe and the entire international peace order. The EU has planned an emergency summit in Brussels.
But no one promised to act militarily and defend Ukraine at the expense of a larger European war. Ukraine is not a NATO member, and the United States and its Western allies have said for weeks that they will not send troops into the country.
Instead, the goal is to get Moscow to pay a very high price in other ways and change the Kremlin’s course.
Our mission is clear: this heinous and barbaric attempt by Vladimir Putin must fail diplomatically, politically, economically and ultimately militarily, said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Almost the entire world, not China, condemned the attack and threatened, in the words of the EU president, to strike the Russian elite with massive and targeted sanctions. Von der Leyen said late Thursday that he would present a proposal to EU leaders that would target strategic sectors of the Russian economy by blocking access to key technologies and markets.
He said the sanctions, if approved, would weaken Russia’s economic base and modernization capacity. We will also freeze Russian assets in the European Union and stop Russian banks from accessing European financial markets.
“We want to cut off the Russian industry from technologies that are so desperately needed today to build the future,” von der Leyen said.
In the days before the attack, Germany suspended approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, and the EU imposed sanctions on hundreds of Russian lawmakers and other officials and institutions from the defense and banking world. The EU has also sought to limit Moscow’s access to the capital and financial markets.
In a similar attempt to fend off an invasion, US President Joe Biden has announced sanctions against Russian banks and oligarchs over the past few days and warned of harsher penalties in the event of an attack. He held the National Security Council on Thursday a morning meeting to deal with the crisis.
Von der Leyen insisted that all Western powers were advancing step by step through the crisis. Even Hungary, a generally stubborn member of the EU, promptly condemned the attack, raising hopes that the 27 countries would quickly achieve the necessary unanimity for the sanctions package.
Highlighting a widening rift in superpower relations, China was alone in condemning the attack and instead blaming the United States and its allies for worsening the crisis.
China went further and approved wheat imports from Russia, a move that could lessen the impact of Western sanctions. Russia, one of the biggest wheat producers, would be vulnerable if foreign markets were closed.
China, which has openly defended Moscow, urged the parties to respect the legitimate security concerns of others.
Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that all parties should work for peace instead of raising tensions or exaggerating the language of war, which China constantly uses to criticize the West in the crisis.
One thing was clear: Weeks of diplomatic banter, the global crossing of leaders and foreign ministers, and the threat of sanctions against Putin’s inner circle failed to persuade the Kremlin not to plunge Europe into one of its biggest crises since the end of the Cold War. .
The turmoil initiated by the attack spread from Europe to Asia. Stock markets fell, oil prices rose, and European aviation officials warned of the danger to civilian aircraft over Ukraine during the conflict.
Oil prices rose more than $5 a barrel. Brent crude briefly rose above $100 in London for the first time since 2014, amid fears of interrupted supply from #3 producer Russia.
The possible repercussions went far beyond economics and geopolitics. The director of the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worries that the crisis will distract global attention more than help the world’s least immunized continent fight Covid-19.