It’s time for a diplomatic solution to be found to end Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, amidst signs of hope that progress can be made to end an “unwinnable” and “indefensible” war, said the UN chief on Tuesday.

António Guterres briefed journalists outside the Security Council in New York, telling them from his own outreach efforts with “various actors”, “elements of diplomatic progress are coming into view on several key issues.”

‘Enough on the table’

He said there was “enough on the table” for an immediate ceasefire, and the start of serious talks to stop the slaughter in Ukrainian cities such a Mariupol.

“This war is unwinnable”, he said, in a stark message to Russia. “Sooner or later, it will have to move from the battlefield to the peace table. This is inevitable.

“The only question is: How many more lives must be lost?

“How many more bombs must fall? How many more Mariupols must be destroyed? How many more Ukrainians and Russians will be killed before everyone realizes that this war has no winners – only losers?”

Continuing the fighting, Mr. Guterres said, was “morally unacceptable, politically indefensible and militarily nonsensical.”

‘Appalling human suffering’

He reminded that Russia launched its invasion a month ago, in violation of the UN Charter, after months of military buildup. Since then, it has inflicted “appalling human suffering and destruction in cities, towns and villages. Systematic bombardments that terrorized civilians. The shelling of hospitals, schools, apartment buildings and shelters.”

But the reality for Russia, he added, is that “the war is going nowhere, fast. For more than two weeks, Mariupol has been encircled by the Russian army and relentlessly bombed, shelled and attacked. For what? Even if Mariupol falls”, he warned, “Ukraine cannot be conquered city by city, street by street, house by house.

The only outcome would be more suffering, he said.

‘Time to end this absurd war’

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres, addresses journalists at UN Headquarters in New York on Ukraine.

“The Ukrainian people are enduring a living hell – and the reverberations are being felt worldwide with skyrocketing food, energy and fertilizer prices threatening to spiral into a global hunger crisis”, the UN chief added.

He repeated his concern that developing countries – after just a month of brutal fighting in one of the world’s grain producing breadbaskets, and already suffocating under the burden of COVID and inadequate financing – were already suffering economic shocks worldwide.

“What I said from this podium almost one month ago should be even more evident today. By any measure – by even the shrewdest calculation – it is time to stop the fighting and give peace a chance.

“It is time to end this absurd war.”

More news to follow on humanitarian relief in Ukraine…