UN chief Gutteres [Image: Courtesy]
United Nations Secretary General, António Guterres, has suspended his trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo due to escalating situation in Ukraine, according to his spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric.

“In light of the deteriorating situation regarding Ukraine, the Secretary-General is canceling his mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Twitter.

Guterres was scheduled to attend the 10th Summit of the Regional Oversight Mechanism of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Region’s Peace, Security, and Cooperation Framework.

However, he had to postpone the DR Congo visit to address the contentious situation in Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his intention to recognize the so-called People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine as independent entities.

Russia has been accused by Western countries of gathering around 150,000 troops along the Ukrainian border in preparation for an impending attack. However, Moscow has frequently rejected any plans to invade Ukraine, accusing Western countries of weakening Russia’s security by expanding NATO to its borders.

The UN chief is particularly concerned over reports of civilian casualties in the fighting between Moscow-backed separatists and government forces along the Line of Contact in eastern Ukraine and demands an immediate ceasefire.

“I can tell you that the Secretary-General is greatly concerned with the latest reports of increased ceasefire violations, including the use of heavy weapons across the contact line in Eastern Ukraine. We are particularly concerned regarding reports of civilian casualties, targeting of critical civilian infrastructure and evacuations.” Dujarric quoted Guterres, as saying.

He added, “We underline our call for an immediate cessation of hostilities, maximum restraint and for all parties to avoid any actions and statements that would escalate tensions further. All issues must be addressed through diplomacy.

Guterres expressed the United Nations’ commitment to remain fully supportive of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine, within its internationally recognised borders, in line with the relevant General Assembly resolutions.

He further called for the peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, under the Minsk Agreements, as endorsed by the Security Council in resolution 2202 (2015).

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