UN chief assesses Russia’s move to recognize Donbass Republics
Antonio Guterres said Moscow’s decision to recognize two break-off republics in eastern Ukraine is “inconsistent” with international law
The United Nations is “greatly concerned” about Russia’s decision to grant recognition to the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics in eastern Ukraine, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, deeming the move a violation of Kiev’s sovereignty.
Speaking soon after Russian President Vladimir Putin said Moscow would give “immediate” recognition to the pair of breakaway republics in the eastern Donbass region on Monday, the UN chief criticized the decision and voiced support for the government in Kiev.
“The Secretary-General is greatly concerned by the decision by the Russian Federation related to the status of certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine,” Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement, adding that the UN head considers it “a violation of the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of Ukraine and inconsistent with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”
Guterres also urged for a “peaceful settlement” of the conflict in the Donbass in line with a series of agreements struck in Minsk, calling on all parties to focus on “an immediate cessation of hostilities” and “preventing any actions and statements that may further escalate the dangerous situation in and around Ukraine.”
In a televised address earlier on Monday, the Russian president said his government would “immediately” recognize the two republics – created in the wake of Ukraine’s 2014 EuroMaidan coup – and ordered the Russian military to “secure peace” in the newly-recognized republics as a peacekeeping force.
Putin cited failures of the Minsk agreements in halting fighting between separatist forces and Ukrainian troops in the country’s east, saying Kiev is “not interested in peaceful solutions” and is planning a “Blitzkrieg” in the Donbass. While a ceasefire was arranged following negotiations in 2014 and 2015, Putin said Ukraine had failed to grant special status to Donetsk and Lugansk as stipulated in the Minsk accords.
Reacting to the decision, Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said he had requested an “urgent” meeting at the UN Security Council, citing “Russia’s illegal actions.”
Ukraine has requested an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council due to Russia’s illegal actions. We have already sent the request to the Council.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 21, 2022
The European Union similarly condemned the move, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen calling Russia’s decision “a blatant violation of international law, the territorial integrity of Ukraine and the Minsk agreements” while vowing to bring sanctions in retaliation.