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UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday said Moscow cannot secure a military victory over its smaller neighbour Ukraine even if its besieged port city of Mariupol falls to Russian forces.
“For more than two weeks, Mariupol has been encircled by the Russian army — relentlessly bombed, shelled and attacked,” he told reporters.
“For what? Even if Mariupol falls, Ukraine cannot be conquered city by city, street by street, house by house.”
Officials in Mariupol say the port on the Sea of Azov, which has a peacetime population of 400,000, has no food, medicine, power or running water. Ukraine appealed to Russia on Tuesday to allow humanitarian supplies into the city.
Mr Guterres slammed Russia for its “ghastly, absurd war” and the “appalling human suffering and destruction” in Ukraine, saying the “war is unwinnable”, “going nowhere fast” and that “sooner or later” Moscow would have to cut a peace deal with Kyiv.
The UN chief spoke in New York as Russian forces continued shelling Mariupol, Kyiv and other Ukrainian population centres nearly one month after Moscow launched its land, sea and air assault on the country on February 24.
“The only outcome to all this is more suffering, more destruction, and more horror as far as the eye can see,” said the former prime minister of Portugal.
“The Ukrainian people are enduring a living hell — and the reverberations are being felt worldwide with skyrocketing food, energy and fertiliser prices threatening to spiral into a global hunger crisis.”
Russia has faced international opprobrium and stinging sanctions over the invasion, but has doubled down on a war it says is necessary to halt a further expansion of the Nato military alliance of western allies along its border.
The UN General Assembly and the Security Council are set to vote in the coming days on competing resolutions about protecting civilians caught up in the escalating violence and on bringing more aid to Ukraine.