UN Undersecretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs Rosemary DiCarlo said Thursday that the current situation concerning Ukraine is extremely dangerous.
"Today, tensions in and around Ukraine are running higher than at any point since 2014. Speculation and accusations around a potential military conflict (with Russia) are rife. Whatever one believes about the prospect of such a confrontation, the reality is that the current situation is extremely dangerous," she said.
The issues underpinning the current crisis are complex and longstanding. They tie together the eight-year-old conflict in eastern Ukraine with the larger issues relating to the European security architecture, she told the Security Council in a briefing on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements on the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
"Although seemingly intractable, given the stakes involved for our collective security and European stability, these issues can and must be solved through diplomacy in the full use of the many available regional and other mechanisms and frameworks. We support all such efforts, including through the secretary-general's good offices," she said.
Intermittent fighting breaks out along a cease-fire line drawn following the breakaway of the easternmost Donetsk and Luhansk regions in Ukraine eight years ago. They are not recognized internationally.
On the implementation of the Minsk Agreements, DiCarlo said there has been little, if any, meaningful progress.
The Minsk Agreements remain the only framework endorsed by the Security Council for a negotiated, peaceful settlement of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, she said.
"In this regard, we note with concern the reports of fresh cease-fire violations across the contact line over the past several hours. If verified, these violations must not be allowed to escalate further. We call on all sides to exercise maximum restraint at this time. We also call on all concerned to refrain from any unilateral measures that may go against the letter and spirit of the Minsk Agreements, or undermine their implementation and result in further tensions, including related to the status of certain areas of Luhansk and Donetsk."
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday expressed his deep worry regarding a potential military conflict between Russia and Ukraine. He reminded the international community that the price in human suffering, destruction and damage to European and global security is too high to contemplate, DiCarlo noted.
"The secretary-general has remained fully engaged with key actors, including the governments of the Russian Federation and Ukraine, and has reiterated the same unambiguous message: there is no alternative to diplomacy," she said.
It is incumbent on all member states to fully respect the key principles of the UN Charter, to settle disputes by peaceful means and to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, she said. "In this regard, let me restate the commitment of the United Nations to the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders as called for in General Assembly resolutions."
The recent diplomatic contacts, including between heads of state, are welcome. But more needs to be done, urgently, including tangible, verifiable steps on the ground and an end to inflammatory rhetoric to defuse tensions, she said.
Over 14,000 people have already lost their lives in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. As the secretary-general said this week, the world simply cannot accept even the possibility of a new conflict in Ukraine, said DiCarlo. "Indeed, we are facing a test. The world is looking to the collective security mechanisms in Europe but also to this (Security) Council to help ensure that the only skirmishes will be diplomatic. We cannot afford to fail."