Antonio Guterres says he fears the prospects for peace keep diminishing, as Ukrainian officials warn Russia is preparing another offensive to coincide with the conflict's first anniversary, on its 348th day.

"I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war. I fear it is doing so with its eyes wide open," UN chief Antonio Guterres says. (Reuters)

Monday, February 06, 2023

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said Russian incursion into Ukraine is "inflicting untold suffering on the Ukrainian people, with profound global implications."

"The prospects for peace keep diminishing. The chances of further escalation and bloodshed keep growing," Guterres said in a speech to the 193-member UN General Assembly presenting his 2023 priorities. 

"I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war. I fear it is doing so with its eyes wide open," he added.

His comments come as Russian forces keep Ukrainian troops tied down with attacks in the eastern Donbass region. Moscow has been assembling additional combat power there for an expected offensive in the coming weeks, Ukrainian officials have said.

Here is a look at other developments

1618 GMT - Russia sentences popular cookbook author over Ukraine posts

A Moscow court sentenced a popular cookbook author and blogger to nine years in prison after convicting her in absentia of spreading false information about the country’s military. 

The charges against Veronika Belotserkovskaya, who lives abroad, were brought over her Instagram posts that the authorities alleged contained "deliberately false information about the use of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation to destroy cities and the civilian population of Ukraine, including children.”

Russia’s Investigative Committee announced launching a case against Belotserkovskaya on March 16, 2022. It was the first publicly-known case under a new law adopted earlier that month that penalised information seen as disparaging to the Russian military.

1144 GMT - Ukraine's Leopard-2 battalions should come together soon: Germany

Germany expects that it will soon have sufficient commitments from other European Union countries to send a promised contingent of Leopard-2 tanks to Ukraine, a German government spokesperson said.

"Germany's commitment stands," government spokesperson Wolfgang Buechner said. He declined to name any specific countries that had so far committed to sending the German-made tank, which Ukraine says it needs to repel Russia. 

Germany has promised 14 of its own tanks and wants to assemble two full battalions of the battle tank in cooperation with other EU countries.

1053 GMT - Norway plans $7.3B aid package over five years to Ukraine

Norway's prime minister proposed that his country, a major petroleum exporter, should provide some $7.3 billion (75 billion crowns) in aid to Ukraine over five years.

The Nordic country has seen its government income swell to record levels following Russian offensive in Ukraine as the price of gas sold to Europe soared last year.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the five-year package "unprecedented."

0957 GMT - IAEA chief will not meet Putin in Moscow visit: Kremlin

The Kremlin said that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi would not meet Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit to Moscow this week.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Grossi would meet officials from state nuclear energy firm Rosatom and the foreign ministry, and that Moscow expected "a substantive dialogue".

The IAEA - the United Nations' nuclear watchdog - has repeatedly expressed concerns about the safety of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which Russian forces seized last March. The plant has come under repeated shelling, with the two sides blaming each other.

0851 GMT - No changes expected at Ukraine defence ministry this week: senior official

A senior Ukrainian official said that no personnel changes would be announced at the defence ministry this week, despite saying earlier that Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov would be replaced.

"There will be no personnel changes in the defence sector this week," he wrote on the Telegram messaging app, without giving further details. 

0841 GMT -UN nuclear watchdog chief to visit Moscow this week

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, will visit Moscow this week, Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said.  

State media reported the meeting will focus on the creation of a safety zone around Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Ryabkov added that Moscow is counting on a deep and professional discussion.

0648 GMT - Russia discussed nuclear arms treaty with US envoy

Russia's deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov said he discussed the New START nuclear arms control treaty with new United States ambassador Lynne Tracy last week, the Interfax news agency reported.

He added that Russia was committed to the treaty but that no date had been set for new talks, citing the conflict in Ukraine.

Talks between Moscow and Washington on the New START treaty were scheduled for last November but were called off at the last moment.

0003 GMT – Ukraine to replace defence minister 

Ukraine is set to replace Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov with the chief of its military spy agency, a close ally of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said, in a reshuffle at the forefront of Ukraine's war campaign.

Reznikov would be transferred to another ministerial job and replaced by Kyrylo Budanov, head of the GUR military intelligence agency, said David Arakhamia, a senior lawmaker and chief of Servant of the People parliamentary bloc.

"War dictates changes in personnel policy," Arakhamia said on the Telegram messaging app.

He said that Ukraine's "force" agencies - like the defence ministry - should not be headed by politicians, but by career defence or security officials.

Arakhamia did not say when the move would be formalised. There was no immediate comment from Reznikov.

Reznikov, 56, became defence minister in November 2021, just a few months before Russia launched its full-scale offensive in Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

0050 GMT – Putin has never threatened me or Germany: Scholz

Germany’s chancellor has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has never threatened him or his country.

In an interview with the Bild newspaper, Olaf Scholz reiterated that they decided to deliver Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine with allies so that Ukraine could defend itself.

Asked whether he was threatened by Putin like former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was, the chancellor said Putin has never threatened him or Germany.

"In our phone calls, our very different perspectives on the war in Ukraine become very clear. I make it clear to Putin that Russia is solely responsible for the war," said Scholz.

In a BBC documentary released on January 30, Johnson claimed that Putin threatened him with a missile strike during an "extraordinary" phone call prior to the war in Ukraine.

For live updates from Sunday (February 5), click here

Source: TRTWorld and agencies