United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday sounded the alarm over Russia raising the alert level for its nuclear forces after invading Ukraine, describing it a "bone-chilling development" for Ukraine, which is already "on fire."
"The prospect of nuclear conflict, once unthinkable, is now back within the realm of possibility," Guterres told reporters, and repeated his call for an immediate cessation of hostilities
Russia's invasion of Ukraine that began on Feb. 24 has so far sent more than 2.8 million people fleeing across Ukraine's borders and trapped hundreds of thousands in besieged cities while triggering broad Western sanctions on Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin late last month said that his nation's nuclear forces should be put on high alert, raising fears that Russia's invasion of Ukraine could lead to nuclear war. U.S. officials have said they have seen no reason so far to change Washington's nuclear alert levels.
Guterres has also called for the preservation of the security and safety of nuclear facilities after a fire at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Europe's biggest of its kind, that broke out during a takeover of the plant by Russian forces.
Guterres declared that "Ukraine is on fire. The country is being decimated before the eyes of the world. The impact on civilians is reaching terrifying proportions. Countless innocent people — including women and children — have been killed.
"After being hit by Russian forces, roads, airports and schools lie in ruins. According to the World Health Organization, at least 24 health facilities have suffered attacks," he continuedd.
"Hundreds of thousands of people are without water or electricity. With each passing hour, two things are increasingly clear: First — it keeps getting worse. Second — whatever the outcome, this war will have no winners, only losers...
"It is time to stop the horror unleashed on the people of Ukraine and get on the path of diplomacy and peace," Guterres urged.
He also said the U.N. was going to allocate a further $40 million from its Central Emergency Response fund to ramp up humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.
"This funding will help get critical supplies of food, water, medicines and other lifesaving aid into the country as well as provide cash assistance," Guterres said.
This report contains material from Reuters.
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