Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN, says an invasion could result in the displacement of another five million people, in addition to the three million already displaced by Russian military action in eastern Ukraine. Photograph:( AFP )
As many as five million people could be displaced by war, the United States has warned, while Ukraine's foreign minister said such a conflict would mark 'the end of the world order as we know it'.
During a United Nations meeting on Ukraine speakers warned on Wednesday that a Russian invasion of the country would likely create a new "refugee crisis" around the world.
As many as five million people could be displaced by war, the US warned, while Ukraine's foreign minister said such a conflict would mark "the end of the world order as we know it."
The dire warnings were made during a UN General Assembly session on "temporarily occupied Ukrainian territories," which is held at UN headquarters in New York each year since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.
In his remarks, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that "our world is facing a moment of peril" over the crisis.
"If the conflict in Ukraine expands, the world could see a scale and severity of need unseen for many years," he said.
"It is time for restraint, reason and de-escalation," Guterres added, stressing there was no room for actions or statements that would "take this dangerous situation over the abyss."
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, US ambassador to the UN, said an invasion could result in the displacement of another five million people, in addition to the three million already displaced by Russian military action in eastern Ukraine.
"If Russia continues down this path, it could -- according to our estimates -- create a new refugee crisis, one of the largest facing the world today," she said.
Considering that Ukraine is one of the largest providers of wheat to developing nations, Thomas-Greenfield said Russian military operations "could cause a spike in food prices and lead to even more desperate hunger in places like Libya, Yemen, and Lebanon."
"The tidal waves of suffering this war will cause are unthinkable," she said.
Dmytro Kuleba, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, pleaded with the United Nations to hold Moscow accountable for attacking "the core principles of international law."
Watch | Russia announces military operations in Ukraine as tensions mount to their climax
"If Russia does not get a severe, swift and decisive response now, this will mean a total bankruptcy of the international security system and international institutions, which are tasked with maintaining the global security order.
"This is a grim scenario, which will throw us back to the darkest times of the 20th century," he said.
The minister called Russian claims that it is acting to prevent Kyiv from launching military operations in the Donbas area "absurd" and urged Russia to withdraw its troops from Ukraine.
(With inputs from agencies)