Ukraine is facing a horrific humanitarian catastrophe as Russia presses a war that has the potential to spread far beyond the country's borders, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Monday.
"Ukraine is on fire," he said at the UN's New York headquarters. "Further escalation of the war, whether by accident or design threatens all of humanity."
Guterres pointed to Russia's "chilling" decision to increase the alert level of its nuclear forces as it presses its invasion, saying it raises the specter of nuclear conflict not seen for decades.
"The prospect of nuclear conflict once unthinkable is now back within the realm of possibility," he said. "The security and safety of nuclear facilities must also be preserved. It's time to stop the horror unleashed on the people of Ukraine and get on the path of diplomacy and peace."
Guterres said he has been in contact with the leaders of China, France, Germany, India, Israel, and Turkiye to work on mediation efforts.
The Russia-Ukraine war, which began on Feb. 24, has drawn international condemnation, led to financial sanctions on Moscow, and spurred an exodus of global firms from Russia.
At least 596 civilians have been killed and 1,067 injured in Ukraine since the beginning of the war, according to the UN. It has warned, however, that the true toll is likely much higher as it not been able to gain access to areas of increased hostilities.
Some 2.8 million people have also fled to neighboring countries, said the UN refugee agency.
The UN will provide an additional $40 million in humanitarian aid to assist those hardest hit by the conflict, Guterres announced.