UN chief lambasted Putin over his ‘totally unacceptable’ nuclear threats

The UN secretary-general has blasted Vladimir Putin over his nuclear threats and denounced its plans to annex parts of Ukraine as a “violation of the UN charter and of international law”, a news report has stated. In a strong statement issued against Russia, António Guterres said that the nuclear threats issued by Putin are “totally unacceptable” as he spoke at the beginning of a UN security council.

The remarks comes days after Putin announced a partial mobilisation and threatened the use of nuclear weapons “if the territorial integrity of our country is threatened”.

He also approved referendums in four Ukrainian regions intended to pave the way for annexation, raising the prospect that he would then deem Ukrainian operations to recapture them as a threat to Russia’s “territorial integrity”.

Mr Guterres also said the impact of the conflict could cause a food supply crisis next year.

He said: “Simply put the world will run out of food.”

Russia was widely condemned at Thursday’s security council meeting chaired by the French foreign minister, Catherine Colonna.

Mr Guterres continued: “The idea of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, has become a subject of debate. This in itself is totally unacceptable.

“I’m also deeply concerned by reports of plans to organise so-called referenda in areas of Ukraine that are not currently under government control.

“Any annexation of a state’s territory by another state resulting from a threat or use of force is a violation of the UN charter and of international law.”

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Russia’s conduct in Ukraine was strongly condemned at a special meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on Thursday.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said: “This week, President Putin said Russia wouldn’t hesitate to use ‘all weapon systems available’ in response to a threat to its territorial integrity – a threat all the more menacing given Russia’s intention to annex large swathes of Ukraine in the days ahead.

“This from a country that in January of this year joined the other permanent members of the Security Council in signing a statement affirming that ‘nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought’”

Former Russian leader Dmitry Medvedev said in a statement on social media on Thursday that the means by which Russia would defend itself included “strategic nuclear weapons”.

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But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused some Security Council members of trying to impose a false narrative on Moscow’s operations in Ukraine, and restating allegations that ethnic Russians had been persecuted by Ukrainian government forces.

“There’s an attempt today to impose on us a completely different narrative to show Russian aggression as the origin of all the tragedy,” Mr Lavrov said.

He said: “This ignores the fact that for over eight years the Ukrainian army and fighters from the nationalist formations killed and continue to kill inhabitants of [the east Ukrainian region of] Donbas with impunity simply because they refused to recognise the results of the coup d’etat in Kyiv. 

“They decided to uphold their rights, which were guaranteed by the Ukrainian Constitution, including the right to freely use Russian, their mother tongue.”