Apr 28, 2022 - World

UN chief visits Kyiv, calls Russian invasion "an absurdity in the 21st century"

Picture of Antonio Guterres wearing a mask surrounded by security

UN Secretary-General António Guterres visits the war-damaged Irpinsky Lipky residential complex on April 28 in Irpin, Ukraine. Photo: John Moore/Getty Images

While visiting towns around Kyiv on Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, called Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine "an absurdity in the 21st century."

What he's saying: "When I see those destroyed buildings, I must say what I feel," Guterres said. "I imagined my family in one of those houses that is now destroyed and black. I see my granddaughters running away in panic, part of the family eventually killed. So, the war is an absurdity in the 21st century. The war is evil."

  • "[O]ur emotions are that there is no way a war can be acceptable in the 21st century," he added, while visiting the town of Borodyanka.

State of play: Guterres also visited the towns of Irpin and Bucha, where over 300 people were tortured and killed. He is scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky later on Thursday, .

While in Bucha, Guterres showed support for the International Criminal Court’s investigation of possible war crimes or crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

  • "I fully support the International Criminal Court and I appeal to the Russian Federation to accept to cooperate with the International Criminal Court," Guterres said. "But when we talk about war crimes, we cannot forget that the worst of crimes is war itself."
  • In Irpin, he focused on civilian deaths, saying that "[w]herever there is a war, the highest price is paid by civilians."

By the numbers: As of Wednesday, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has recorded 5,939 civilian casualties — 2,787 killed and 3,152 injured —in Ukraine since the start of the war.

  • "OHCHR believes that the actual figures are considerably higher, as the receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have been going on has been delayed and many reports are still pending corroboration," a press release states.

Zoom in: Earlier this month, Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said that at least 10,000 civilians died during Russia's siege of the city, which started in early March. He warned that the death toll could exceed 20,000.

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