UN chief rejects planned Russian annexation, warns of ‘dangerous escalation’

The United Nations chief says Russia’s planned annexation of four Ukrainian regions will be a “dangerous escalation” that flouts the UN Charter and will have “no legal value.”

In unusually strong and blunt language, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Thursday that any annexation “stands against everything the international community is meant to stand for,” and “must not be accepted.”

The Kremlin announced that a ceremony will be held Friday to launch the process of annexing the Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia.

Guterres said “the so-called `referenda’” cannot be called “a genuine expression of the popular will” because they were conducted during armed conflict in areas under Russian occupation, and outside Ukraine’s legal and constitutional framework.

He reiterated an October 24, 1970 General Assembly declaration, which has been repeatedly cited by the International Court of Justice, that “no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal.” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres conveyed this message to Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia during a meeting on Wednesday.

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