Secretary-General’s remarks at press encounter following the Security Council meeting on Ukraine

SG: This is the saddest moment in my tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations. I started this meeting of the Security Council addressing President Putin and telling him from the bottom of my heart: Stop your troops from an offensive against Ukraine, give peace a chance because too many people have died.

During the meeting President Putin announced a ‘special military operation’ in the Donbas and required the Ukrainian troops to lay down their arms. So, in the present circumstances I must change my appeal.

I must say, President Putin: In the name of humanity bring your troops back to Russia. In the name of humanity do not allow to start in Europe what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century, with consequences not only devastating for Ukraine, not only tragic for the Russian Federation, but with an impact we cannot even foresee in relation to the consequences for the global economy in a moment when we are emerging from the COVID [pandemic] and so many developing countries absolutely need to have space for the recovery which would be very, very difficult, with the high prices of oil, with the end of exports of wheat from Ukraine, and with the rising interest rates caused by instability in international markets.

This conflict must stop – now. Thank you very much.

Q:  Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary-General. You have just talked about consequences. I wonder if you could spell out more what you think the consequences will be for Russia, and for Ukraine and its people.

SG: Well, it is clear that military action will be happening in the territory of Ukraine, and obviously if they lead to a generalized war, it is difficult to forecast how dramatic it will be in the number of people who will die, in the number of people who will be displaced, in the number of people who will lose hope in relation to the future. It is also clear that the consequences for the Russian Federation will be very meaningful. It is not for me to comment on sanctions that will be implemented but it is clear there will be also consequences.

What is clear for me is that this war doesn’t make any sense. It violates the principles of the Charter. And it will cause, if it doesn’t stop, a level of suffering Europe has not known since, at least, the Balkan crisis.

Q: Thank you, Mr. Secretary-General. Is there anything the UN can do to get Russia back to the bargaining table at this point?

SG: We can of course, in my case, appeal. The Security Council is the body that has powers given by the Charter to address this situation

New York

23 February 2022