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UN Human Rights Chief Urges Immediate De-escalation of Russia-Ukraine Conflict

By Vusala Abbasova January 3, 2024

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The office also made urgent plea for immediate measures to de-escalate the conflict, ensure the protection of civilians, and uphold international law.

As the Russia-Ukraine war continued to intensify, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called for an immediate de-escalation of hostilities on Tuesday.

“Alarming escalation of hostilities, dozens of civilians killed in Ukraine and Russia. International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate attacks and attacks against civilian objects,” the UN Human Rights Office wrote on X platform.

The office also made urgent plea for immediate measures to de-escalate the conflict, ensure the protection of civilians, and uphold international law.

The latest wave of violence began on Saturday when Ukraine reportedly retaliated against Russia's intense strikes by shelling the border city of Belgorod. The region, located adjacent to northern Ukraine, has been a hotspot of ongoing shelling and drone attacks attributed to Ukraine by the Russian authorities.

Belgorod witnessed a devastating assault on Saturday, resulting in one of the deadliest incidents since the conflict began almost two years ago. The attack left 108 people injured and caused extensive damage to residential and social infrastructure. Russian authorities claim that 25 civilians, including five children, were killed in the Ukrainian attacks.

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed that the assault on Belgorod “would not go unpunished”. The situation in Belgorod remains tense, with ongoing reports of shelling and drone attacks.

On Tuesday, deadly strikes on residential buildings in Ukraine led to dozens of casualties. Aerial attacks wounded numerous people and prompted Kyiv to call for expedited Western weapons shipments. The Ukrainian rescue service reported five deaths and at least 127 injuries in missile and drone attacks on Kyiv and Kharkiv.

In his address, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky condemned the attacks, stating that Russia had launched about 170 Shahed attack drones and dozens of missiles since the last day of 2023. Zelensky emphasized that Russia would be held accountable for every life lost.

In response to the attacks, Ukraine launched four Alder MLRS missiles towards Belgorod, but all were intercepted by Russian forces, according to regional Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov. Russia claimed that Ukraine launched 12 missiles and several drones on Wednesday, targeting Russia's southern region of Belgorod.

The armed conflict began in 2022 when Russian troops entered Ukraine claiming to protect the people of two self-proclaimed separatist-controlled regions of Ukraine, who were allegedly under attack from the Ukrainian military.

The Russian offensive targeted the northern, eastern, and southern regions in an attempt to cripple the defense lines of the Ukrainian army. However, the Russian army’s blitzkrieg tactics were unsuccessful due to the resilient resistance of Ukraine’s military and civilians.