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Ukraine updates: UN chief fears prospect of 'wider' war

February 6, 2023

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he feared the world was headed for a greater conflict. Meanwhile, Ukraine says there won't be a leadership shake-up at the defense ministry this week. DW has the latest.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres holds a press conference at the UN Headquarters, in New York, United States, on December 19, 2022
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the conflict in Ukraine was inflicting suffering on the Ukrainian people, with profound global implicationsImage: Selcuk Acar/AA/picture alliance

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday he fears the world was headed for a "wider war" as the potential of escalation of the Ukraine war continues.

"We have started 2023 staring down the barrel of a confluence of challenges unlike any in our lifetimes," Guterres told diplomats in New York. "I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war. I fear it is doing so with eyes open," the UN chief said.

Guterres laid out his priorities for the year in a speech to the UN General Assembly, calling upon diplomats from around the world to "wake up" and "get to work."

Even though the war in Ukraine was at the top of his list of priorities, the UN chief also pointed to other regions of threats to security, including the conflict between Israel and Palestine, the situation in Afghanistan, Myanmar, the Sahel and Haiti.

Guterres called out the "bias" of politicians and business leaders to gear themselves to the issues of the short-term.

He gave examples of people's tendencies to think of "The next poll. The next tactical political maneuver to cling to power. But also the next business cycle — or even the next day's stock price."

"This near-term thinking is not only deeply irresponsible – it is immoral," he added.

Here are other updates on the war in Ukraine on Monday, February 6:

Third largest Ukrainian Church switches to Gregorian calendar

In Ukraine, the Greek Catholic Church, which follows the Byzantine rite, has decided to switch to the modern Western Gregorian calendar in a move that sets it apart from Russia. 

The transition, which affects fixed holidays such as Christmas, is to take place at the beginning of the new church year from September 1. The dates for movable Church feasts such as Easter will be calculated as before. 

Traditionally, Orthodox Christians in Ukraine celebrated Christmas on January 7, as in Russia. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine just under a year ago, the public discussion became stronger to also distinguish itself from Russia by changing the Church calendar. 

According to estimates, around 5 million Ukrainians, especially in western Ukraine, feel they belong to the Greek Catholic Church. It recognizes the pope in Rome as its head.

Open invitation for Zelenskyy to visit Brussels, says EU official

A European Union official said there was a "likelihood of an extraordinary Plenary Session on Thursday, February 9 with the presence of Volodymyr Zelenskyy," though no plans have been confirmed, AFP reported.

Separately, a spokesman for European Council President Charles Michel said there was an "open invitation to President Zelenskyy to visit Brussels" this week.

The EU leaders are preparing for a special two-day summit later this week, with their focus being the war in Ukraine, economy and migration. 

Zelenskyy visited Washington D.C. in December, his first trip abroad since Russia invaded Ukraine in February last year. EU officials have repeatedly stressed there was no final word on whether Zelenskyy can make it to the summit in Brussels, which would make it his first trip to the seat of the EU since the war in Ukraine begun.

Ukraine has applied to join the EU and was granted EU candidate status in 2022. 

Norway plans $7 billion aid package to Ukraine

Norway's government said it was planning a five-year aid package to Ukraine worth 75 billion Norwegian kroner ($7.3 billion, €‎6.7 billion).

"We are proposing that Norway gives a binding and lasting contribution to Ukraine," Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store told reporters.

He hoped to get parliamentary approval by the end of February for the plan to donate 15 billion kroner per year over the next five years.

Half of the aid would fund military requirements this year, while the rest would go to humanitarian needs, although this split could change in coming years, he said.

Some people in the country have criticized Norway for profiting from the war.

The Nordic country has seen its government income swell to record levels following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, as the price of gas sold to Europe soared last year.

DW talks to rescuer and survivor of Russian missile attack

At least 46 people were killed in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro when a Russian missile strike hit a block of apartments in January.

DW’s Max Zander went to Dnipro to meet a rescuer and a survivor of the attack.

Dealing with the aftermath of the civilian attack on Dnipro

No changes expected at Ukraine defense ministry this week

There'll be no changes at the top of Ukraine's defense ministry this week, David Arakhamia, leader of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's party in parliament, wrote on his Telegram channel.

On Sunday, Arakhamia said Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov would be replaced, following a corruption scandal over which his deputy had already resigned. Reznikov had said he would only resign if Zelenskyy asked him to.

Arakhamia said the military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov would become the new defense minister.

On Monday, he wrote "There will be no personnel changes in the defense sector this week," without further details.

UN nuclear watchdog chief to hold talks in Moscow

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, will visit Russia this week to discuss the creation of a security zone around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, Russia's deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, said.

Russian forces captured the plant, the largest nuclear facility in Europe, in March, and it has repeatedly come under fire in recent months, raising fears of a nuclear disaster. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for the repeated shelling.

Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Grossi would meet officials from the state nuclear energy firm Rosatom and the foreign ministry. He was not scheduled to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin during his visit.

The IAEA is trying to get Moscow and Kyiv to agree to a safe zone around the facility. Such a zone would ensure that the power plant would not be fired upon and that there would be no shelling from there.

Last month Ryabkov told Russia's RIA Novosti "the negotiation process is not progressing easily."

After talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last month, Grossi warned a nuclear accident could happen any day and reiterated the situation at the plant was very precarious.

"I worry that this is becoming routine, that people may believe that nothing has happened so far, so is the director general of the IAEA crying wolf?"

"It (an accident) can happen any time and my duty is to do everything I can to prevent that from happening," he added. 

Canadian tanks destined for Ukraine arrives in Europe

Canada's Defense Minister, Anita Anand, posted an image of the first Leopard 2 tank donated by her country to Ukraine, arriving in Poland.

"Alongside our allies, we'll soon be training the armed forces of Ukraine in the use of this equipment," she wrote.

Canada said it would send four Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

It follows a decision last month by Chancellor Olaf Scholz to allow the German-made tanks to be exported to Ukraine.

Germany said it would provide one company of 14 Leopard 2 tanks.

Kyiv's allies hope to send at least two Leopard 2 tank battalions with around 80 vehicles to Ukraine.

Other countries, including Poland and Finland, have promised to send tanks.

Why Germany's military is in a bad state, and what's being done to fix it

Ukraine offers support to Turkey after earthquake

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that his country was ready to provide necessary assistance to Turkey in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake.

"Shocked by the news about the death and injury of hundreds of people as a result of the earthquake in Turkey," Zelenskyy wrote on Twitter.

"We send our condolences to the families of the victims and wish the injured a speedy recovery. At this time, we stand by the friendly Turkish people and are ready to provide the necessary assistance,'' he added.

President Vladimir Putin also offered Russian assistance Turkey and Syria.

Turkey has maintained good relations with Russia and Ukraine despite the war.

It helped negotiate a Black Sea grain agreement last summer to resume vital exports as the war in the country continues.

More DW coverage on the war in Ukraine

"I'm ready to accept the fact that Russians are considered toxic all over the world now," a Russian who moved to Turkey after President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilization for the war against Ukraine told DW. But Russians now face increased bureaucratic hurdles and fines if they try to settle in Turkey.

Ukrainian doctors are receiving further training at seven hospitals in Germany.  The goal is to share German expertise with doctors who have to treat severely injured patients in Ukraine.

A strike in Kharkiv injured five people and damaged a university and a residential building.

Russian missiles hit Kharkiv

rm, lo/es (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)