Tag Archives: Antonio Guterres

Seven killed in armed attack on synagogue.

Seven people were dead after a perpetrator carried out an armed attack in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday, police said.

Police said several others were injured in the attack on a synagogue. Rescue services said some of these were in critical condition.

The attacker was “neutralized,” police said.

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Police originally put the number of fatalities at eight. Several others were injured, the police said on Twitter.

The attacker went to a synagogue in the illegal settlement of Neve Yaakov at around 8:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. GMT) and opened fire, according to police.

The security situation in Israel and Palestine has worsened sharply in the past few days.

A spokesperson for the Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, said Friday’s attack was in retaliation for an Israeli army raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank on Thursday.

Nine Palestinians, including an elderly woman, were killed and 20 others injured in an Israeli raid in Jenin.

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The Palestinian Health Ministry accused Israeli forces of deliberately firing tear gas inside a hospital’s pediatric ward, leaving children choking – a claim denied by an Israeli army spokesperson who added that gas may have drifted into the clinic through a window.

The bloodiest day in the West Bank in years erupted during a raid on the crowded refugee camp in the northern city of Jenin, where gunshots rang through the streets and smoke billowed from burning street barricades.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the death toll from the clashes rose to “nine martyrs” including a woman, and that 20 people were wounded before the Israeli forces withdrew midmorning.

In Gaza, Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem told Reuters: “This operation is a response to the crime conducted by the occupation in Jenin and a natural response to the occupation’s criminal actions,” though he stopped short of claiming the attack.

World condemns attack
The United States quickly condemned the attack.

“This is absolutely horrific,” State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters.

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“We condemn this apparent terrorist attack in the strongest terms. Our commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad, and we are in direct touch with our Israeli partners.”

“We stand with the Israeli people in solidarity,” he said.

Patel told reporters at a news briefing that U.S. officials were in touch with their Israeli counterparts and that he did not expect changes to Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s vist to Israel next week.

U.S. President Joe Biden directed his national security team to offer support to their Israeli counterparts.

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also condemned the attack.

“The Secretary-General strongly condemns today’s terrorist attack,” his spokesman said. “It is particularly abhorrent that the attack occurred at a place of worship, and on the very day we commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day.”

However, he urged the sides to exercise the “utmost restraint.” Guterres is “deeply worried” by the current escalation of violence in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) also condemned Friday’s synagogue attack on the outskirts of East Jerusalem, state news agency (WAM) reported citing a foreign ministry statement.

Britain’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, also condemned the attack. “To attack worshippers at a synagogue on Holocaust Memorial Day, and during Shabbat, is horrific. We stand with our Israeli friends,” he said in a statement on Twitter.

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Türkiye also condemned the attack and called on all sides to take steps to prevent any further violence.

Immediate measures’
The surging violence comes a month after a new government, led by veteran Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, took power.

Netanyahu and his extreme-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the scene on Friday, as crowds chanted “death to Arabs,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalists at the scene said.

Speaking on television after visiting the scene, Netanyahu said his Security Cabinet would soon announce “immediate measures” in response and urged Israelis not to “take the law into their own hands.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant, who was on a family visit to the U.S., has cut short his trip and is returning to Israel, his office told AFP.

“The attack against civilians this Friday evening was horrific,” Gallant said in a statement, vowing to “operate decisively and forcefully against terror and will reach anyone involved in the attack.”


UN chief calls climate summit in 2023.


Given the threatening climatic changes, U.N. Chief Antonio Guterres on Monday said to convene a “no-nonsense” climate ambition summit in September next year. He urged leaders from government, business, civil society and finance to step up with “new, tangible and credible” action.

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Guterres also said he “will not relent in persuading peace in Ukraine in line with international law and the United Nations Charter.” A key principle of the founding U.N. Charter is respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Speaking at his year-end news conference, Guterres said he is “not optimistic” about the possibility of effective Ukraine peace talks in the immediate future and believes the military confrontation will go on, but added that he “strongly hopes” peace can be reached in Ukraine in 2023.

He also said he will keep pushing for a climate solidarity pact that would require big emitters to reduce emissions this decade and ensure support for those who need it.




Countries are under pressure to ensure emissions are cut in half by 2030 and down to net zero by 2050 – the only path to hold global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“I will convene a climate ambition summit in September 2023. I call on every leader to step up,” he said.

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“The invitation is open. But the price of entry is non-negotiable U.N. chief calls ‘no-nonsense’ climate summit in 2023 U.N. chief calls ‘no-nonsense’ climate summit in 2023 – credible, serious and new climate action and nature-based solutions that will move the needle forward and respond to the urgency of the climate crisis. It will be a no-nonsense summit,” Guterres said.


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Stop undignified use of African children’s images – UN.


Catherine Namakula, the chair of the working group on people of African descent, has appealed to the relevant stakeholders to desist from portraying African children in undignified circumstances.

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Ms Namakula made the call in New York. She was reacting to a report published and presented to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday.

“We made an appeal to the United Nations and other stakeholders to desist from using images of African children and children of African descent in undignified circumstances of dire poverty for marketing and fundraising,’’ she said.

In the report, UN human rights experts outlined how discrimination affects black boys and girls worldwide to the extent that they are not considered children, even in the eyes of the law.

They said unresolved legacies of trade and trafficking in enslaved Africans, as well as colonialism, post-colonial apartheid and segregation, continue to harm these children today.

The report by the Working Group on people of African descent highlights discrimination in areas that include the administration of justice, law enforcement, education, and health.

“Due to racial discrimination, racial stereotypes, systemic racial discrimination and xenophobia, children of African descent are not considered as children at all,” Ms Namakula stated.

The report found that throughout the diaspora, children of African descent face heavier policing, including more arrests, police surveillance, racial profiling, strip searches and excessive use of force.

In short, “law enforcement is in conflict with children of African descent,” said the report.

The study detailed how false racial stereotypes of criminality, culpability and dangerousness influence decision-making by police officers, prosecutors, lawyers and judges globally.

“The childhoods of people of African descent are stolen by persistent racial disparities in policing and family interventions, including removal of children and termination of parental rights, and racialised decision-making and outcomes,” they said.

The Working Group stated that it was time to take action to end excessive use of force, extra-judicial killings, disparities, racial profiling, racial stereotypes and stereotyping, systemic racial discrimination, hate speech and hate crimes.

They called for the creation of a racial justice index to measure progress.


“We must dismantle discriminatory structures and create political space for a dialogue on reparations at the international, regional, national and local levels. Only the truth, accountability and justice can eliminate racial discrimination,” Ms Namakula said.

The experts also emphasised that the UN and other stakeholders should stop using images of African children and children of African descent in undignified circumstances for marketing and fundraising purposes.

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They further urged these organisations to address negative stereotypes, adding that “children of African descent are not synonymous with poverty.”


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Grain corridor deal needs to be extended, Erdoğan tells Guterres.


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan highlighted the necessity of extending the Ukraine grain deal in a phone call with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday.

According to a statement released by the Presidential Communications Directorate, Erdoğan and the U.N. chief discussed developments regarding the Russia-Ukraine War and the grain corridor.

The president said he welcomes the resumption of the deal as a result of his busy senior-level diplomatic traffic with Russia and Ukraine.

He continued by saying that it is now necessary to focus on extending the deal, which is set to expire in 20 days.

For his part, Guterres thanked Erdoğan for his contributions and efforts.


Russia had pulled out of the grain deal over the weekend, citing allegations of a Ukrainian drone attack against its Black Sea fleet.

Erdoğan on Wednesday said that after his call with Putin, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu informed Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar that the deal for a humanitarian grain corridor would “continue in the same way as before” as of noon Wednesday.

Shortly after Erdoğan’s remarks, the Russian Defense Ministry said Russia agreed to continue carrying out its role in the deal after receiving written guarantees from Kyiv that Ukraine would not use the sea corridor for military actions against Moscow.

Meanwhile, Erdoğan also said he expects strong support for the U.N. Security Council Resolution regarding cross-border humanitarian assistance to Syria, which is set to expire on Jan. 10.

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West urges Russia to reverse Ukraine grain deal suspension


Western governments are calling on Russia to reverse its decision to pull out of a UN-brokered grain deal, a move that undermines efforts to ease a global food crisis, with Ukraine saying Moscow had planned the move well in advance.

The Turkey and UN-brokered deal was signed between Russia and Ukraine in July under which Moscow allowed the grain ships to leave Ukrainian Black Sea ports. The agreement has already allowed more than 9 million tonnes of Ukrainian grain to be exported and was due to be renewed on November 19.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday expressed “deep concern” as Ukraine’s maritime grain exports were halted.

“The Secretary-General continues to engage in intense contacts aiming at the end of the Russian suspension of its participation in the Black Sea Grain Initiative,” Guterres’ spokesman said.

“The same engagement also aims at the renewal and full implementation of the initiative to facilitate exports of food and fertilizer from Ukraine, as well as removing the remaining obstacles to the exports of Russian food and fertilizer.”

A ship with 40,000 tonnes of grain bound for Ethiopia under the United Nations aid programme could not leave Ukraine on Sunday as a result of Russia’s suspension of the deal, said Oleksandr Kubrakov, Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure.

Currently, some 176 ships loaded with grain are being prevented from sailing from Ukraine’s ports, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, adding it was destined for seven million people in need.

Moscow suspended its participation in the deal on Saturday, effectively blocking shipments from Ukraine, one of the world’s top grain exporters, in response to what it called a major Ukrainian drone attack earlier in the day on its Black Sea Fleet headquarters near the port of Sevastopol in Russian-annexed Crimea.

“Russia’s decision to suspend participation in the Black Sea deal puts at risk the main export route of much needed grain and fertilisers to address the global food crisis caused by its war against Ukraine,” European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Twitter on Sunday.

“The EU urges Russia to [reverse] its decision.”


The centre coordinating the deal’s logistics said in a statement that no traffic was planned for Sunday.

“A joint agreement has not been reached at the JCC for the movement of inbound and outbound vessels on 30 October,” it said in a statement. “There are more than ten vessels both outbound and inbound waiting to enter the corridor.”

US President Joe Biden on Saturday called the move “purely outrageous”, saying it would increase hunger, while US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Moscow of weaponising food.

On Sunday, Russia’s ambassador to Washington responded, saying the US response was “outrageous” and made false assertions about Moscow’s move.

Russia’s defence ministry said Ukraine attacked the Black Sea Fleet near Sevastopol with 16 drones early on Saturday, and British navy “specialists” helped coordinate what it called a terrorist attack.

Russia said it had repelled the attack but that the ships targeted were involved in securing the grain corridor out of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports.

Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said Moscow was using the explosions 220km (137 miles) away from the grain corridor as a “false pretext” for a long-intended move.

“Russia has planned this well in advance,” Kuleba said on Twitter.

“Russia took the decision to resume its hunger games long ago and now tries to justify it,” he said, without providing any evidence.

‘Threat of famine’
Russia’s departure from the grain deal marks a new development in an eight-month war that began with Russia invading its neighbour in February and has recently been dominated by a Ukrainian counteroffensive and Russian drone and missile attacks that have destroyed more than 30 percent of Ukraine’s power generating capacity and hit populated areas.

Each side has accused the other of being prepared to detonate radioactive bombs.

Zelenskyy called for a strong response from the United Nations and Group of 20 (G20) major economies to what he called Russia’s nonsensical move on the grain deal.

“This is a completely transparent attempt by Russia to return to the threat of large-scale famine for Africa, for Asia,” Zelenskyy said in a video address on Saturday, adding Russia should be kicked out of the G20.

“This is food for more than 7 million consumers … Why is it that some handful of people somewhere in the Kremlin can decide whether there will be food on the tables of people in Egypt or Bangladesh?” he said

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Over three million students in Pakistan affected by floods – UN.


The education of 3.5 million students has been interrupted by the devastating floods in Pakistan, the United Nations said in a report on Friday.

The report, released during U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’s two-day solidarity and support visit to Pakistan, said the floods have also hit the refugees living in the South Asian nation.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimates said nearly 800,000 refugees live in districts officially notified as “calamity hit” in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

In the southeastern province of Sindh alone, the report said, over 1.2 million hectares of agricultural land have been damaged.

Over 1.5 million houses have been damaged or destroyed in Sindh – nearly 88% of the total nationwide, it added.

The report showed over 1,460 health facilities were affected by the heavy rains and floods.

“Access to health facilities, health care workers, and essential medicines and medical supplies remain limited,” it added.

The catastrophic floods battered Pakistan killing 1,391 people since June 14, according to the country’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).

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Pakistani officials told Guterres on Friday that the destructive floods caused more than $30 billion in damage and that the country will need international assistance to rebuild its infrastructure.

A total of 12,722 people have been injured in rain and flood-related incidents across the country, official data showed.

Monsoon season in Pakistan, like in other countries in the region, usually results in heavy rains, but this year has been the wettest since 1961.

“Standing water continues to cover vast swaths of the country,” the report said, citing satellite-detected water extents mapped by the U.N. Satellite Centre.

The mapping indicates preliminarily that at least 75,000 square kilometers (28,957 square miles) of land in Pakistan, analyzed between Aug. 1 and 9, appears to be affected by floodwaters.

More than half of them appear to be croplands.




Erdoğan, Guterres, Zelenskyy to hold meeting in Lviv.


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Lviv on Aug. 18.

U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric made the announcement on Tuesday, adding that the U.N. chief would then travel to the port city of Odessa.

They would discuss the situation at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, along with finding a political solution to the conflict with Russia.

Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for shelling near the eastern Ukraine nuclear plant, which Russian forces took over in the early stages of their Feb. 24 invasion. The plant is still being operated by Ukrainian technicians.

The United Nations has said it can help facilitate a visit by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to Zaporizhzhia from Kyiv, but Russia said any mission going through Ukraine’s capital was too dangerous.

Guterres is also expected to visit the Joint Coordination Center, formed as part of the historic deal mediated by Türkiye and the U.N. to oversee the Ukraine grain deal, in Istanbul on Aug. 20 after meeting with Turkish, and Ukrainian presidents.

Three Black Sea ports were unblocked last month under a deal between Moscow and Kyiv, brokered by the United Nations and Türkiye, making it possible to send hundreds of thousands of tons of Ukrainian grain to buyers and bringing relief to some of the millions worldwide who are on the brink of starvation.

The U.N. and Turkey, a NATO member and maritime neighbor to both Russia and Ukraine in the Black Sea, have been working for two months to broker the deal. Turkey controls the straits leading into the Black Sea and has acted as a mediator on the grain issue.

The halt to grain exports during the five-month war has caused prices to rise dramatically, and reopening Ukrainian ports may potentially avert famine in parts of the world.

Ukraine is one of the world’s largest exporters of wheat, corn and sunflower oil, but Russia’s invasion of the country and naval blockade of its ports have halted shipments. Some grain is being transported through Europe by rail, road and river, but the prices of vital commodities like wheat and barley have soared during the nearly five-month war.




Israeli police beat pallbearers at AJ’s Shireen Abu Akleh funeral.


Israeli riot police on Friday pushed and beat pallbearers at the funeral for slain Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, causing them to briefly drop the casket in a shocking start to a procession that turned into perhaps the largest display of Palestinian nationalism in Jerusalem in a generation.

The scenes of Israeli violence were likely to add to the sense of grief and outrage across the Arab world that has followed the death of Abu Akleh, who witnesses say was killed by Israeli troops Wednesday during a raid in the occupied West Bank. They also illustrated the deep sensitivities over East Jerusalem – which is claimed by both Israel and Palestine and has sparked repeated rounds of violence.

Abu Akleh, 51, was a household name across the Arab world, synonymous with Al Jazeera’s coverage of life under Israeli occupation, which is well into its sixth decade with no end in sight. A 25-year veteran of the satellite channel, she was revered by Palestinians as a local hero.

Thousands of people, many waving Palestinian flags and chanting “Palestine! Palestine!” attended the funeral. It was believed to be the largest Palestinian funeral in Jerusalem since Faisal Husseini, a Palestinian leader and scion of a prominent family, died in 2001.




Ahead of the burial, a large crowd gathered to escort her casket from an East Jerusalem hospital to a Catholic church in the nearby Old City. Many of the mourners held Palestinian flags, and the crowd began shouting, “We sacrifice our soul and blood for you, Shireen.”

Shortly after, Israel police attacked, pushing and clubbing mourners. As the helmeted riot police approached, they hit pallbearers, causing one man to lose control of the casket as it dropped toward the ground. Police ripped Palestinian flags out of people’s hands and fired stun grenades to disperse the crowd.

Abu Akleh’s brother, Tony, said the scenes “prove that Shireen’s reports and honest words … had a powerful impact.”

Al Jazeera correspondent Givara Budeiri said the police crackdown was like killing Abu Akleh again. “It seems her voice isn’t silent,” she said during a report by the broadcaster.

East Jerusalem, home to the city’s most important Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, was captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war. It claims all of the city as its eternal capital and has annexed the eastern sector in a move that is not internationally recognized.

Palestine claims East Jerusalem as the capital of a future independent state. Israel routinely clamps down on any displays of support for Palestinian statehood. The conflicting claims to East Jerusalem often spill over into violence, helping fuel an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants last year and more recently sparking weeks of unrest at the city’s most sensitive holy site.

Outside of prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel rarely allows large Palestinian gatherings in East Jerusalem and routinely clamps down on any displays of support for Palestinian statehood.

Police claimed the crowd at the hospital was chanting “nationalist incitement,” ignored calls to stop and threw stones at them. “The policemen were forced to act,” police said. They issued a video in which a commander outside the hospital warns the crowd that police will come in if they don’t stop their incitement and “nationalist songs.”

An Israeli official said the details of the funeral had been coordinated with the family ahead of time to ensure it would run smoothly, but that “masses began gathering around the hearse of Shireen Abu Akleh and chaos ensued,” preventing the procession from going along its intended route. The official speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Earlier this week, Abu Akleh’s brother said the original arrangement was to move the casket in a hearse from the hospital to the church, and that after the service, it would be carried through the streets to the cemetery. It was not immediately clear why those plans had changed and pallbearers emerged from the hospital carrying the casket.

Al Jazeera said in a statement that the police action “violates all international norms and rights.”

“Israeli occupation forces attacked those mourning the late Shireen Abu Akhleh after storming the French hospital in Jerusalem, where they severely beat the pallbearers,” it said. The network added that it remains committed to covering the news and will not be deterred.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the images “deeply disturbing.”

The focus should be “marking the memory of a remarkable journalist who lost her life,” Psaki said. “We regret the intrusion into what should have been a peaceful procession,” she added.

During a Rose Garden event, U.S. President Joe Biden was asked whether he condemns the Israeli police actions at the funeral, and he replied: “I don’t know all the details, but I know it has to be investigated.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “was deeply disturbed by the confrontations between Israeli security forces and Palestinians gathered at St. Joseph Hospital, and the behavior of some police present at the scene,” according to a statement from his deputy spokesperson, Farhan Haq.


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Israeli police later escorted the casket in a black van, ripping Palestinian flags off the vehicle as it made its way to the church.

“We die for Palestine to live!” crowds chanted. “Our beloved home!”

Later, they sang the Palestinian national anthem and chanted “Palestine, Palestine!” before her body was buried in a cemetery outside the Old City.

Her grave was decorated with a Palestinian flag and flowers. The Palestinian Ambassador to the U.K. Husam Zomlot, and Al Jazeera’s bureau chief, Walid Al-Omari, placed flowers on the grave.

Salah Zuheika, a 70-year-old Palestinian, called Abu Akleh “the daughter of Jerusalem,” and said the huge crowds were a “reward” for her love of the city.

“We already miss her, but what had happened today in the city will not be forgotten,” he said.

Abu Akleh was a member of the small Palestinian Christian community in the Holy Land. Palestinian Christians and Muslims marched alongside one another Friday in a show of unity.

She was shot in the head during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank town of Jenin. But the circumstances of the shooting remain in dispute.

The Palestinians say army fire killed her, while the Israeli military said Friday that she was killed during an exchange with fire with Palestinian militants. It said it could not determine who was responsible for her death without a ballistic analysis.

“The conclusion of the interim investigation is that it is not possible to determine the source of the fire that hit and killed the reporter,” the military said.

Israel has called for a joint investigation with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and for it to hand over the bullet for forensic analysis to determine who fired the fatal round. The PA has refused, saying it will conduct its own investigation and send the results to the International Criminal Court (ICC), which is already investigating possible Israeli war crimes.

Reporters who were with Abu Akleh, including one who was shot and wounded, said there were no clashes or militants in the immediate area. All of them were wearing protective equipment that clearly identified them as reporters.

The PA and Al Jazeera, which has long had a strained relationship with Israel, have accused Israel of deliberately killing Abu Akleh. Israel denies the accusations.

Rights groups say Israel rarely follows through on investigations into the killing of Palestinians by its security forces and hands down lenient punishments on the rare occasions when it does. This case, however, drew heavy scrutiny because Abu Akleh was well-known and also a U.S. citizen.

Palestinians from in and around Jenin have carried out deadly attacks in Israel in recent weeks, and Israel has launched near daily arrest raids in the area, often igniting gunbattles with militants.

Israeli troops pushed into Jenin again early Friday, sparking renewed fighting.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said 13 Palestinians were wounded. The Israeli military said that Palestinians opened fire when its forces went in to arrest suspected militants. Police said a 47-year-old member of a special Israeli commando unit was killed




UN Chief, Antonio Guterres visit UN House in Abuja.


The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, is currently at the UN House in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

His visit to the UN House comes a day after the UN scribe arrived in Nigeria on a two-day official visit – the first since he assumed office.

Guterres, who was in Borno State on Tuesday, arrived at the UN facility in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at about 9:05am in the company of some UN top officials and diplomats.




Shortly after his arrival, he met with top officials of the organisation in Nigeria. Journalists were, however, barred from covering the meeting.

As part of the activities lined up for his trip, the UN scribe is expected to perform the laying of wreath ceremony in honour of the victims of the August 26, 2011, suicide bomb attack that claimed at least 26 lives.

While at the UN House, he will also meet with young people’s delegates, women, religious leaders, diplomatic communities, and journalists.

From there, he is scheduled to head to Abuja to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osibanjo, and other top government officials




UN Chief says reintegrating repentant terrorists essential for peace.


The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has proposed the reintegration of repentant terrorists to ensure the absolute return of peace in Nigeria’s north-east region.

He gave the recommendation on Tuesday while addressing a gathering in Borno after visiting a camp housing people displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency in the state.

Guterres, who is on a two-day official visit to Nigeria – the first of such, believes the reintegration of persons forced to join terrorist groups during the over a decade-long insurgency will go a long way in bringing back peace in the region.

“The best thing we can do for peace is to reintegrate those, that in a moment of despair, became terrorists but want to become now citizens and to contribute to the well-being of their brothers and sisters,” he said.




Thousands of people have been killed and millions forced out of their homes in the wake of the insurgency that has lasted over a decade.

While the Nigerian government says it is winning the war against the terrorists, hundreds of Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) have surrendered their arms to the military.

Borno Of Hope
Amid mixed reactions trailing the government’s plan to reintegrate repentant terrorists into the society, the UN scribe sees the move as a step in the right direction.

His tour of an Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camp, according to him, shows that the people affected by terrorism want above all to go back home in safety and dignity.


Guterres described Borno as now a place of hope, adding that the way to fight terrorism effectively was to invest in livelihoods, reintegration, and people’s futures.

“The Borno I found today (Tuesday) is a Borno of hope, it’s a Borno with future,” he said. “The people I met today in the IDP camp want to go back home in safety and dignity.

“The way to address terrorism effectively is to provide not only hope but a future of reality. When I went around with the thousands and thousands of people that were there, I saw smiles, I saw enthusiasm, I saw hope, and this is where we must invest.”




UN Chief, Antonio Guterres makes first official visit to Nigeria.


The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has arrived Nigeria on a two-day official visit to Africa’s most populous country.

He proceeded to Borno, the state ravaged by a decade-long insurgency as Nigeria makes concerted efforts to wipe out terrorism.

According to the United Nations information center in Nigeria, Guterres is expected to meet with the Borno State governor, Babagana Zulum in Maiduguri, the state capital before embarking on a field mission where he will meet families affected by the Boko Haram conflict ravaging the region for more than 12 years.




The UN chief will also evaluate the impact of climate change on vulnerable communities and assess progress made as well as the challenges to the COVID-19 recovery.

From there, he is scheduled to head to Abuja to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osibanjo and other top cabinet officials.

In Abuja, Guterres is expected to officiate a wreath-laying ceremony for victims of the 2011 bombing at the U.N. house and will then meet with young people’s delegates, women, religious leaders and diplomatic communities and journalists.

It is the first visit by the U.N. secretary-general to Nigeria since his appointment. The visit is part of his annual Ramadan solidarity visits to nations




UN Chief, Guterres slam Kyiv explosion amid Mariupol evacuation efforts.


Ukraine has become “an epicenter of unbearable heartache and pain,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres after suspected Russian missile strikes hit downtown Kyiv during his visit, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of trying to humiliate the U.N. by raining missiles on the capital.

Russia pounded targets all over Ukraine on Thursday, including the attack on Kyiv that struck a residential high-rise and another building and wounded 10 people, including at least one who lost a leg, according to Ukraine’s emergency services.

Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s forces were holding off Russia’s attempted advance in the south and east, as efforts continued to secure safe passage for residents of Mariupol, which has been largely reduced to rubble in a 2-month-long siege.




The bombardment came barely an hour after Zelenskyy held a news conference with Guterres, who toured some of the destruction in and around Kyiv and condemned the attacks on civilians.

Meanwhile, explosions were reported across the country, in Polonne in the west, Chernihiv near the border with Belarus, and Fastiv, a large railway hub southwest of the capital. The mayor of Odessa, in southern Ukraine, said rockets were intercepted by air defenses.

Ukrainian authorities also reported intense Russian fire in the Donbass – the eastern industrial heartland that the Kremlin says is its main objective – and near Kharkiv, a northeastern city outside the Donbass that is seen as key to the offensive.

In the ruined southern port city of Mariupol, Ukrainian fighters holed up in the steel plant that represents the last pocket of resistance said concentrated bombing killed and wounded more people. And authorities warned that a lack of safe drinking water inside the city could lead to outbreaks of deadly diseases such as cholera and dysentery.

Ukraine’s military said Russian troops have subjected several places in the Donbass to “intense fire” Thursday and that over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces had repelled six attacks in the region.

Four civilians were also killed in heavy shelling of residential areas in the Luhansk region of the Donbass, according to the regional governor.

Columns of smoke could be seen rising at different points across the Donetsk region of the Donbass, and artillery and sirens were heard on and off.

The fresh attacks came as Guterres surveyed the destruction in small towns outside the capital that saw some of the worst horrors of the first onslaught of the war. He condemned the atrocities committed in towns like Bucha, where evidence of mass killings of civilians was found after Russia withdrew in early April in the face of unexpectedly stiff resistance.

“Wherever there is a war, the highest price is paid by civilians,” the U.N. chief lamented.

In the attack on Kyiv, explosions shook the city and flames poured out the windows of the residential high-rise and another building. The capital had been relatively unscathed in recent weeks since Moscow refocused its efforts on the Donbass.

The explosions in northwestern Kyiv’s Shevchenkivsky district came as residents have been increasingly returning to the city. Cafes and other businesses have reopened and a growing number of people have been out and about, enjoying the spring weather.

It was not immediately clear how far the attack was from Guterres. Getting a full picture of the unfolding battle in the east has been difficult because airstrikes and artillery barrages have made it extremely dangerous for reporters to move around. Several journalists have been killed in the war, now in its third month.

Also, both Ukraine and the Moscow-backed rebels fighting in the east have introduced tight restrictions on reporting from the combat zone.

Western officials say the Kremlin’s apparent goal is to take the Donbass by encircling and crushing Ukrainian forces from the north, south and east.


But so far, Russia’s troops and their allied separatist forces appear to have made only minor gains – a senior U.S. defense official described them as covering several kilometers a day – taking several small towns as they try to advance in relatively small groups against staunch Ukrainian resistance.

As of Thursday, Russia had launched about 1,900 missiles into Ukraine – the vast majority fired from outside Ukraine’s borders, the U.S. official said. Most are strikes on Mariupol and the Donbass.

Britain’s Defense Ministry said Friday that the limited Russian territorial gains have been achieved at significant cost to their forces.

Russian military units were mauled in the abortive bid to storm Kyiv and had to regroup and refit. Some analysts say the delay in launching a full-fledged offensive may reflect a decision by Russian President Vladimir Putin to wait until his forces are ready for a decisive battle, instead of rushing in and risking another failure that could shake his rule amid worsening economic conditions at home because of Western sanctions.

Many observers suspect Putin wants to be able to claim a big victory in the east by Victory Day, on May 9, one of the proudest holidays on the Russian calendar, marking the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.

Many of the Russian troops who were in Mariupol have been leaving and moving to the northwest, the U.S. defense official said. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the U.S. military assessment, didn’t have exact figures but said a “significant number” of the roughly one dozen battalion tactical groups that were in the city were moving out.

In Mariupol, video posted online by Ukraine’s Azov Regiment inside the steel plant showed people combing through the rubble to remove the dead and help the wounded. The regiment said the Russians hit an improvised underground hospital and its surgery room, killing an unspecified number of people. The video couldn’t be independently verified.

An estimated 100,000 people remained trapped in Mariupol.

“Deadly epidemics may break out in the city due to the lack of centralized water supply and sewers,” the city council said on the messaging app Telegram. It reported bodies decaying under the rubble and a “catastrophic” shortage of drinking water and food.

Ukraine has urged its allies to send even more military equipment to fend off the Russians. U.S. President Joe Biden asked Congress for an additional $33 billion to help Ukraine




Russia speaks on Kyiv explosion during UN’s Antonio Guterres visit.


Russia confirmed Friday it carried out an airstrike on Kyiv during a visit by the UN chief, the first such attack on the Ukrainian capital in nearly two weeks and one that killed a journalist.

Vera Gyrych, a producer for the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, died when a Russian missile slammed into the house where she lived in Kyiv, the media group said of the strike.

Russia’s defence ministry said it had deployed “high-precision, long-range air-based weapons” that it added “have destroyed the production buildings of the Artyom missile and space enterprise in Kyiv”.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the strikes, which immediately followed his talks with Guterres, were an attempt by Russia “to humiliate the UN and everything that the organisation represents”.




Earlier that day, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had toured Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv where Moscow is alleged to have committed war crimes. Russia denies killing civilians.

Germany slammed the “inhumane” attack that showed Russian President Vladimir Putin has “no respect whatsoever for international law”.

In a residential part of Kyiv, AFP correspondents saw one building in flames and black smoke pouring into the air after the Russian strikes.

“I heard the sound of two rockets and two explosions. It was a sound similar to a flying plane, and then two explosions with an interval of three to four seconds,” Oleksandr Stroganov, 34, told AFP.

Mayor Vitali Klitschko said there had been “two hits in the Shevchenkovsky district”, with one hitting “the lower floors of a residential building”.

– More than 8,000 alleged war crimes –
“It is a war zone, but it is shocking that it happened close to us,” said Saviano Abreu, spokesman for the UN’s humanitarian office who was travelling with Guterres, adding that the delegation was safe.

Guterres, who arrived in Kyiv after talks in Moscow with Putin, had called war “evil” after visiting Bucha and demanded the Kremlin cooperate with an International Criminal Court investigation into the accusations.

Ukrainian prosecutors said they have pinpointed more than 8,000 alleged war crime cases and have opened investigations into 10 Russian soldiers for suspected atrocities in Bucha, where dozens of bodies in civilian clothes were found following Moscow’s retreat.

Those cases involve “killing civilians, bombing of civilian infrastructure, torture” and “sexual crimes” reported during Russia’s occupation of various parts of Ukraine, prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova told a German broadcaster.

In Washington, President Joe Biden on Thursday urged US lawmakers to approve a huge $33 billion aid package and proposed new laws to allow using luxury assets stripped from Russian oligarchs to compensate Ukraine for damage inflicted since Moscow invaded on February 24.

“The cost of this fight is not cheap. But caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen,” said Biden, whose announcement was hailed by Zelensky as an “important step”.

Three months into an invasion that failed in its short-term aim of capturing Kyiv, Russia is now intensifying operations in the breakaway eastern Donbas region and tightening its noose around the devastated strategic southern port city of Mariupol.


Ukrainian authorities said they planned to evacuate civilians Friday from the besieged Azovstal steel plant, the last holdout in Mariupol where hundreds of people are sheltering with Ukrainian troops.

– Mariupol shelling –
In an early morning statement on Telegram, defenders of the factory said shelling had struck a field hospital inside the plant, causing it to collapse.

“Among the already wounded servicemen are dead, newly wounded and injured,” the statement said without providing specific casualty numbers.

In Washington, Biden pushed back against increasingly heated claims by Russian officials that Moscow is fighting the entire West, rather than only Ukraine.

“We’re not attacking Russia. We are helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression,” Biden said.

The $33 billion package sought by Biden is a significant increase on previous requests.

The bulk — $20 billion — would be weapons and other security assistance, while $8.5 billion will be economic aid.

A senior US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the spending package would keep Ukraine’s government and military going through the start of October.

While Biden said the United States was sending 10 anti-tank weapons for every Russian tank, Ukraine’s air force commander said his country’s anti-aircraft systems were unable to strike higher altitude bombers.

– British exercises –
“We need medium and long-range anti-aircraft systems” and “modern fighters”, said Mykola Olechchuk.

Britain meanwhile said it was deploying about 8,000 troops for exercises across eastern Europe in a show of Western allies’ resolve against Russian aggression.

With the war claiming thousands of lives, Kyiv has admitted Russian forces have captured a string of villages in the Donbas region.


The first phase of Russia’s invasion failed to reach Kyiv or overthrow the government after encountering stiff resistance reinforced with Western weapons.

The Russian campaign has since refocused on seizing the east and south of the country while using long-range missiles against west and central Ukraine.

Nearly 5.4 million Ukrainians have fled their country since the invasion and more than 7.7 million others are displaced internally, the UN estimates, as the IOM appealed for $514 million to help.

“We’re left with only one hope: to return home,” said pensioner Galina Bodnya in the southern city of Zaporizhzhia.




Suspected Russian strikes hit Kyiv during UN chief Guterres’ visit.


Suspected Russian missile strikes hit downtown Kyiv on Thursday as U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in the Ukrainian capital for efforts to rekindle peace talks.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondents saw a building in flames and black smoke pouring into the air with a heavy presence of police and rescuers in the area, a residential neighborhood on the western side of the city.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said there had been “two hits in the Shevchenkovsky district,” with one hitting “the lower floors of a residential building.” He said three people had been taken to the hospital but the extent of their injuries was not immediately clear.




A close aide to the U.N. chief sent a message to journalists confirming they were safe.

The explosions occurred after U.N. chief Guterres completed talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy focusing on efforts to evacuate civilians from the Russian-besieged southern port of Mariupol.

Guterres told Portuguese broadcaster RTP when asked about the blasts: “There was an attack on Kyiv … it shocked me, not because I’m here but because Kyiv is a sacred city for Ukrainians and Russians alike.”

Zelenskyy’s chief of staff, Andriy Yermak, said the blasts were “proof that we need a quick victory over Russia … We must act quickly – more weapons, more humanitarian efforts … because every day Ukraine pays a high price for the protection of democracy and freedom.”

The move prompted a furious response from Ukraine’s government, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba denouncing it as a “heinous act of barbarism,” which demonstrated Russia’s “attitude towards Ukraine, Europe and the world.”

Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov also lashed out, writing on Twitter: “This is an attack on the security of the Secretary-General and on world security!”

The strikes came just two days after Guterres held talks in Moscow with Vladimir Putin, with the Russian leader telling him he remained hopeful that negotiations could end the conflict.


The irony of the timing was not lost on Mykhaylo Podolyak, a senior Zelenskyy aide.

“Missile strikes in the downtown of Kyiv during the official visit of @antonioguterres. The day before, he was sitting at a long table in the Kremlin, and today explosions are above his head,” he tweeted.

Earlier, on his first visit to Ukraine since Russia launched a full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, Guterres toured several towns and villages near Kyiv where Russian forces are accused of killing civilians.

“War is an absurdity in the 21st century. The war is evil,” he said after visiting places, including Bucha, where dozens of bodies in civilian clothes were found, some with their hands bound and others buried in shallow graves.

Later at a joint press conference in Kyiv with Zelenskyy, Guterres admitted the Security Council had failed to go far enough in its efforts to “prevent and end” Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“Let me be very clear: the Security Council failed to do everything in its power to prevent and end this war. And this is the source of great disappointment, frustration and anger,” he said




UN chief calls for cease-fire as Lavrov rejects talks in Mariupol.


United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday called for a cease-fire in Ukraine during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as the top Russian diplomat dismissed Kyiv’s proposal to hold peace talks in Mariupol.

Guterres is visiting Moscow and is then scheduled to visit the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, later this week.

“We are extremely interested in finding ways in order to create the conditions for effective dialogue, create the conditions for a cease-fire as soon as possible, create the conditions for a peaceful solution,” Guterres said at a meeting with Lavrov.

Guterres said he wanted to reduce the impact of fighting in Ukraine on food security in other parts of the world. Lavrov said they would discuss “the situation around Ukraine that acts as a catalyst for a great number of problems which had piled up over recent decades in the Euro-Atlantic region.”

Guterres also told the Russian foreign minister that he is ready to fully mobilize the organization’s resources to save lives and evacuate people from the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol.

“Thousands of civilians are in dire need of lifesaving humanitarian assistance, and many have evacuated,” Guterres told a news conference with Lavrov.

“The U.N. is ready to fully mobilise its human and logistical resources to help save lives in Mariupol”, he said, proposing coordinated work with the Red Cross to allow those holed up inside the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol to leave.

Speaking about reports of possible war crimes in Ukraine, Guterres said he was concerned, and that they required an independent investigation.

He was later due to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Lavrov, for his part, said Russia was committed to a diplomatic solution via talks on Ukraine. Dismissing Kyiv’s proposal to hold peace talks in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, Lavrov said it was too early to talk about who would mediate any negotiations.

Moscow is ready to cooperate with the United Nations to help civilians in Ukraine, where Russia has been conducting a military operation for over two months, Lavrov said.

“Our goals are primarily to protect the civilian population and here we are ready to cooperate with our colleagues from the U.N. to alleviate the plight of the civilian population,” Lavrov added.

Ukraine’ Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said while a diplomatic breakthrough was unlikely, there was hope Guterres could help the humanitarian situation, esepecially around Mariupol, where Ukraine says hundreds of civilians are trapped with the city’s last defenders inside a blockaded steel works.

“I don’t think (the) Secretary General will be able to end the war. But there is one crucially important path that he can implement: It’s to arrange a green corridor for defenders and civilians blocked by Russia in Mariupol.”

Kyiv and its allies played down Lavrov’s remarks about nuclear war. Russia had lost its “last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine,” Kuleba tweeted after Lavrov’s interview. “This only means Moscow senses defeat.”

U.N. projects 8.3M refugees
The U.N. refugee agency is launching a new appeal for funds for the crisis sparked by the war in Ukraine that projects up to 8.3 million people will have to flee the country by year-end.

The projection was announced Tuesday as part of a new $1.85 billion regional response plan from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) aimed at supporting refugees from Ukraine after Russia’s war began on Feb. 24. It far outstrips the agency’s previous refugee estimates, which now stand at just over 5.2 million.

The exodus has exceeded the worst-case predictions of the Geneva-based agency, which it has called the largest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

The response plan would help refugees who have fled to neighboring countries including Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, but also other countries in the region, including Belarus, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.

The U.N. estimates that nearly 8 million people are displaced within Ukraine, and another 13 million people are believed to be trapped in war-affected areas of Ukraine. The country had a pre-war population of about 44 million.




UN chief urges 4-day Easter ‘pause’ in fighting in Ukraine.


U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed on Tuesday for a halt in fighting in Ukraine during Orthodox Christians’ Holy Week, invoking Easter pleading for a four-day “pause” to allow humanitarian aid and evacuations.

Noting that the Easter season is coming amid an intensifying Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine, the U.N. chief said the need for a cease-fire is all the more urgent.

“The onslaught and terrible toll on civilians we have seen so far could pale compared to the horror that lies ahead. This cannot be allowed to happen,” he told reporters, urging Russians and Ukrainians “to silence the guns and forge a path to safety for so many at immediate risk.”

He suggested the pause begin Thursday, which is Holy Thursday for Orthodox Christians, who make up most of Ukraine’s population.

Guterres said the goal is to open “humanitarian corridors” so civilians can escape embattled areas and more humanitarian convoys can get in, particularly to such areas as Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Mariupol. More than 4 million people in those areas, and 12 million nationwide, need food, water and medicine.

The U.N. humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, had traveled to Ukraine and Russia earlier this month to try to gauge the potential for a cease-fire and emerged saying he wasn’t optimistic.

But Griffiths suggested Monday there could be “some ripeness” for a cease-fire as the Orthodox Easter holiday approaches Sunday. He broached the idea Tuesday with the Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, an interfaith group, Guterres said.

“The four-day Easter period should be a moment to unite around saving lives and furthering dialogue to end the suffering in Ukraine,” Guterres said.

The proposal comes after the U.N. recently helped foster a two-month truce in Yemen’s civil war. The truce took effect as the Islamic holy month of Ramadan began.

The U.N. let Russia and Ukraine know before Guterres went public with his appeal Tuesday, spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said. As for its prospects, “We are always hopeful,” he said.

The U.N. Security Council was due to meet later Tuesday to discuss the war, particularly the millions of people it has displaced




Erdoğan, UN chief discuss Russia war, Jerusalem tensions.


President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan discussed the tensions in Jerusalem and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war in a phone conversation with the United Nations chief on Sunday.

“We had a phone talk with the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Antonio Guterres. In our conversation, we discussed regional developments, especially the incident in Jerusalem and the Ukraine-Russia war,” Erdoğan said on Twitter.

Erdoğan also said he stressed the importance of the Istanbul process for the Russia-Ukraine peace talks and efforts to settle disagreements between the parties.

At least 1,982 civilians have been killed and 2,651 injured in Ukraine since the war started on Feb. 24, according to U.N. estimates, with the true figure believed to be much higher.

More than 4.8 million Ukrainians have fled to other countries, with over 7 million more internally displaced, said the U.N. refugee agency.

The leaders also addressed the recent tensions in Jerusalem, as Erdoğan told Guterres that Ankara strongly condemns Israel’s interventions against worshipers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, and finds it “unacceptable.”

They also evaluated the joint steps that can be taken to achieve peace in the region.

Tension has mounted across the Palestinian territories since Israeli forces raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque courtyard on Friday amid clashes with worshippers, injuring hundreds.

On Sunday, more than 700 Israeli settlers forced their way into the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex under heavy police protection to celebrate the weeklong Jewish Passover holiday, which started on Friday.

Al-Aqsa Mosque is the world’s third-holiest site for Muslims. Jews call the area the “Temple Mount,” claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980, in a move never recognized by the international community




Russia’s interests ‘non-negotiable’ as UN criticizes ‘peacekeepers’.


Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that Moscow was ready to look for “diplomatic solutions” amid raging tensions with the West over Ukraine but stressed that the country’s interests were non-negotiable.

“Our country is always open for direct and honest dialogue, for the search for diplomatic solutions to the most complex problems,” Putin said in a video address to mark the Defender of the Fatherland Day, a public holiday in Russia.

But he added: “The interests of Russia, the security of our citizens, are non-negotiable for us.”

Putin spoke after parliament’s upper house, the Federation Council, on Tuesday gave him unanimous approval to deploy “peacekeepers” to two breakaway Ukrainian regions now recognized by Moscow as independent, and potentially into other parts of Ukraine.


In the video address, Putin congratulated the country’s men and said he was certain of the “professionalism” of the Russian military and that they will stand up for the country’s national interests. He praised the battle-readiness of the Russian army and said the country would continue to develop state-of-the-art weapons.

“We will continue to develop advanced weapon systems, including hypersonic and those based on new physical principles, and expand the use of advanced digital technologies and elements of artificial intelligence,” the Kremlin strongman added. “Such complexes are truly the weapons of the future, which significantly increase the combat potential of our armed forces.”

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has condemned Russia for the escalation in the Ukraine conflict and called for compliance with international law.

“When troops of one country enter the territory of another country without its consent, they are not impartial peacekeepers, they are not peacekeepers at all,” Guterres said in New York on Tuesday, in rare open criticism of a U.N. veto power.


Moscow’s description of military support for Ukraine’s rebel-held regions of Donetsk and Luhansk is a “perversion of the concept of peacekeeping.”

In addition, Guterres does not consider the events in eastern Ukraine to be genocide, contrary to what Putin said.

“Genocide is a crime that is clearly defined … I do not think it is the case (here),” the U.N. chief said.

Guterres called for an immediate cease-fire in eastern Ukraine. “The principles of the U.N. Charter are not an a la carte menu,” he said. The crisis is one of the largest global peace and security crises in recent years and a test for the entire international system.


The Ukrainian military said on Wednesday one soldier had been killed and six wounded in shelling by pro-Russian separatists in east Ukraine in the past 24 hours as cease-fire violations remain at a high level.

The military said on its Facebook page it had recorded 96 incidents of shelling by separatists over the past 24 hours compared with 84 a day earlier. It said separatist forces used heavy artillery, mortars and Grad rocket systems.

Ukraine has accused Russia of provoking violence, saying it used it as a pretext to formally recognize eastern Ukraine as independent and move its troops into the region, precipitating a crisis that the West fears could unleash a major war.

Western officials have been warning for weeks that the Russian leader has been preparing an all-out invasion of Ukraine. On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden announced tough new sanctions against Russia for “beginning” an invasion of Ukraine but said there was still time to avoid war.