UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday said Russian President Vladimir Putin has assured him that he has “no intention” of sending troops into southern and eastern Ukraine, even as the UN chief reiterated his strong call for a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
Ban warned that given the heightened tensions, “even small sparks can ignite larger flames of unintended consequences”.
“What started as a crisis in Ukraine, is now also a crisis over Ukraine. From the beginning, my objective has been to seek a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the crisis, in keeping with the fundamental principles of the UN Charter,” Ban said following his briefing to the Security Council.
The UN chief had made official visits to the capitals of both Ukraine and Russia during his recent travels. On the Ukraine crisis, Ban said he had “strongly urged the Russian and Ukrainian leaders to de-escalate the situation, avoid hasty actions and immediately engage in direct and constructive dialogue to resolve all the problems”.
Responding to a question on Russia’s intent to send troops into southern and eastern Ukraine, the Secretary-General said Putin assured him that he had no such intention. “This is what President Putin also told me, that he had nointention to make any military move. I should also tell you that, at the same time, President Putin also expressed his concern about some extreme radical elements and any such movement along the borderlines.
“I have been really trying to urge both parties to de-escalate the situation. Emotions were running high, as you will agree, and tensions have been very highly charged. Therefore, my immediate priority was to urge the leaders of both (countries) to engage in direct dialogue,” Ban said.
He stressed that it is time for dialogue and peace adding that the UN would continue its efforts to find a solution to the Crimean crisis through diplomacy and the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission, which has been on the ground in the region for nearly two weeks.
Ban expressed concern over the divisions that the crisis is creating among the international community, fearing it could “harm our ability to address other pressing concerns, conflicts and humanitarian emergencies”.