United Nations — The United Nations General Assembly was set to gather Wednesday for a session dedicated to discussion of the crisis unfolding on‘s borders, with a record number of speakers signed up to address what the United States says is already a Russian invasion. Among the senior officials expected to address the assembly were Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who is a member of President Joe Biden’s cabinet.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres — who cut short a planned international trip to speak at the General Assembly on Wednesday — told reporters on Tuesday that the U.N. “and the entire international system are being tested, and we must pass this test.”
The U.N. chief called for an “immediate ceasefire” in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, where a simmering eight-year war between Russian-backed separatists and Ukrainian forcesover the last week. On Tuesday, Russian leader Vladimir Putin unilaterally recognized the breakaway regions of Donbas, Luhansk and Donetsk, as independent of Ukraine, and ordered his forces to enter the areas for “peacekeeping” duties.
Guterres appeared annoyed by Putin’s use of the term, saying he was concerned about “the perversion of the concept of peacekeeping.”
“I am proud of the achievements of U.N. Peacekeeping operations in which so many Blue Helmets have sacrificed their lives to protect civilians,” he said. “When troops of one country enter the territory of another country without its consent, they are not impartial peacekeepers.”
“They are not peacekeepers at all,” Guterres said.
Ukrainian diplomats at the U.N. have appeared frustrated by the global body’s inability thus far to prevent a violation of its sovereignty, and they have made it clear that, as Guterres suggested previously, the standoff with Russia should be seen as a test.
“If the United Nations fails to deliver on its mandate and its flagship mission, it should be overhauled,” Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya told CBS News this week.