Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky introduced martial law across the country on Thursday, urging citizens to remain calm. Earlier, he said he had tried to call Putin on Wednesday but was unsuccessful.
Russian forces have launched a military assault on neighboring Ukraine, crossing its borders and bombing military targets near big cities. A missile sparked a fireball as it hit Ivano-Frankivsk International Airport in western Ukraine. Russia’s military breached the border in a number of places, in the north, south and east, including from Belarus, a long-time Russian ally. There are reports of fighting in some parts of eastern Ukraine.
The protest takes place following Russia launching a military operation in Eastern Ukraine in the early hours of Thursday. Ukrainian President Zelensky introduced martial law across the country in response.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the “military offensive” by Russia on Ukraine is “wrong. It is against the Charter. It is unacceptable. But it is not irreversible.”
In a statement to reporters on Tuesday (24 Feb), Guterres said the Russian military operations inside the sovereign territory of Ukraine is on a “scale that Europe has not seen in decades.”
He reiterated that such unilateral measures conflict directly with the United Nations Charter, adding that use of force by one country against another is “the repudiation of the principles that every country has committed to uphold.”
The UN chief repeated his appeal to Russian President Vladmir Putin: “Stop the military operation. Bring the troops back to Russia.”
Statement to the media by António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General, on the situation in Ukraine.
Guterres said, “We know the toll of war. With deaths rising, we are seeing images of fear, anguish and terror in every corner of Ukraine. People – everyday innocent people – always pay the highest price.”
He said the UN is scaling up its humanitarian operations in and around Ukraine and announced an immediate allocation of 20 million USD from the Central Emergency Response Fund to meet urgent needs.
The UN chief said, “We and our humanitarian partners are committed to staying and delivering, to support people in Ukraine in their time of need. United Nations staff are working on both sides of the contact line, always guided by the humanitarian principles of neutrality, impartiality, humanity and independence. We are providing lifesaving humanitarian relief to people in need, regardless of who or where they are. The protection of civilians must be priority number one.”
Guterres stressed that international humanitarian and human rights law must be upheld. He added, “The decisions of the coming days will shape our world and directly affect the lives of millions upon millions of people. In line with the Charter, it’s not too late to save this generation from the scourge of war. We need peace.”
President Joe Biden addressed the nation Thursday after pledging new sanctions to punish Russia for the “unprovoked and unjustified attack” on Ukraine. A senior U.S. defense official said Thursday’s attack by Russia appears to be the first phase in what will likely be a multiple-phased, large-scale invasion. The attack began before dawn and brought explosions to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, and other cities. Ukraine’s leadership said Thursday at least 40 people have been killed so far in what it called a “full-scale war” targeting the country from the east, north and south. Biden said he planned to speak to Americans after a meeting of the Group of Seven leaders. While specific details of the speech have not been released, more sanctions against Russia were expected to be announced. In a previous statement, Biden said Putin “has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”