Earlier today, the so-called authorities of the “Donetsk and Luhansk Peoples Republics” requested military assistance from the Russian Federation.
Also today, the Ukrainian authorities declared a nationwide state of emergency and announced other related defense and security measures, including the mobilization of reservists.
Throughout the day we have seen disturbing reports of continued heavy shelling across the contact line and civilian and military casualties. There are also reports of the repeated targeting of civilian infrastructure.
This evening, different media are carrying reports of an ongoing large-scale military buildup and of military columns moving towards Ukraine. The Russian Federation has also reportedly shut airspace to civilian aircraft near the border with Ukraine.
The UN cannot verify any of these reports. But if these developments were confirmed, they would greatly aggravate an already dangerous situation.
The Ukrainian authorities are also reporting a new large-scale cyber-attack targeting several state and financial institutions.
President Zelenskyy earlier this evening called for continued diplomacy. Separately, President Putin also spoke about his continued readiness to engage in dialogue.
We encourage such efforts, even at this late hour.
UN staff remain on the ground to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine. We are committed to staying and delivering. All parties must ensure their safety and security. Respect for international humanitarian law and international human rights law is also paramount.
We cannot predict exactly what will happen in the coming hours and days in Ukraine. What is clear is the unacceptably high cost – in human suffering and destruction – of an escalation.
The people of Ukraine want peace. And I’m certain the people of Russia want peace. We must do everything in our power to ensure that peace prevails.