U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed concern about the potential for Russia’s war in Ukraine to spread, during a visit to Moldova’s capital Monday.
“The impact of the war in Ukraine across the region and the world is profound and far-reaching; the consequences of escalation are too frightening to contemplate,” Guterres said during a joint news conference with Moldovan Prime Minister Natalia Gavrilita in Chisinau.
“I am deeply concerned about the continuation and possible spread of the war Russia is waging in Ukraine, and by the impact it is having not only in the region but around the world,” the U.N. chief said.
Russia’s invasion has disrupted wheat, maize, sunflower oil and fertilizer exports from the Black Sea region, as well as spiked fuel prices globally.
Guterres is in Moldova on a two-day visit to express international support for Ukraine’s western neighbor, which has seen about a half million refugees enter the country, and 90,000 remain, many in Moldovan homes.
“Moldova is a small country with a big heart,” he said, noting its resources are limited.
There is also international concern that Moldova could be a possible second front in Russia’s war on Ukraine, via its Kremlin-backed breakaway region of Transnistria.
“Moldova is in the front line of preservation [of] peace and stability in the world,” Guterres said.
When asked about Transnistria, he said he hopes actors on both sides would have a clear sense of responsibility and prevent any threat to the nation.
“Your sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity and the solid progress you have made over the past three decades must not be threatened or undermined,” Guterres said.
The U.N. secretary-general added that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “must stop, the guns must be silenced, and I urge Russia and Ukraine to step up diplomatic efforts to dialogue to urgently achieve the negotiated settlement in line with international law and the U.N. Charter.”
Prime Minister Gavrilita said in response to reporters’ questions about a possible military mobilization, that the government believes there is a “low risk of escalation of military actions” in Moldova and dismissed rumors of a mobilization.
“So far, we have no reason to be worried and to resort to such actions,” Gavrilita said, adding that if their assessment changes, they will communicate it through official channels.
Gavrilita stepped in Monday for the meetings with Guterres, confirming that President Maia Sandu had to cancel due to “health reasons.”
On Tuesday, Guterres will meet with the speaker of Moldova’s parliament, Igor Grosu, and then visit a center for refugees.