UN secretary general Guterres calls Russian annexation of Ukraine regions 'dangerous'

Antonio Guterres denounces claims recent referendums were held peacefully and fairly

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres addresses the General Assembly. EPA
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Thursday said that Russia's intention to annex eastern regions of Ukraine after a series of referendums was a “dangerous escalation” of the war.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly expected to sign formal decrees annexing four eastern regions of Ukraine on Friday after Moscow-backed groups held referendums there over the past week.

The referendums have been denounced by Ukraine and its western allies.

“Any decision to proceed with the annexation of the Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine would have no legal value and deserves to be condemned,” Mr Guterres said in a statement.

He also dismissed claims that the referendums were held peacefully and fairly, with the full participation of all communities in the region.

“The so-called referenda in the occupied regions were conducted during active armed conflict in areas under Russian occupation and outside Ukraine's legal and constitutional framework,” he said.

“They cannot be called the genuine expression of the popular will.”

The UN chief emphasised that Moscow's move to annex the territory of another country is a breach of the UN Charter and international law, and Russia, as a permanent member of the Security Council, has a “particular responsibility to respect the charter”.

Mr Putin last week ordered a “partial mobilisation” that is sending reservist Russian troops to fight in Ukraine.

“Any decision by Russia to go forwards will further jeopardise the prospects for peace,” Mr Guterres said.

“It will prolong the dramatic impacts on the global economy, especially in developing countries, and hinder our ability to deliver life-saving aid across Ukraine and beyond. It is high time to step back from the brink.”

Updated: September 30, 2022, 8:15 AM