The world may be on the brink of a “wider war” as the chances of the Russia–Ukraine conflict reaching a peaceful outcome slowly diminish, United Nations head Antonio Guterres warned on Feb. 6.
The secretary-general made the comments at a briefing to the U.N. General Assembly where he laid out his priorities for 2023 and delivered a gloomy outlook for the year ahead.
Guterres told the U.N. assembly that experts have determined that the “Doomsday Clock”—in other words, self-destruction—is ticking closer to midnight than ever.
“In 2023, they surveyed the state of the world—with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the runaway climate catastrophe, [and] rising nuclear threats that are undermining global norms and institutions. And they came to a clear conclusion. The Doomsday Clock is now 90 seconds to midnight, which means 90 seconds to total global catastrophe,” Guterres said.
“In truth, the Doomsday Clock is a global alarm clock. We need to wake up—and get to work. … We have started 2023 staring down the barrel of a confluence of challenges unlike any other in our lifetimes.”
Guterres pointed to various situations and problems that are happening across the globe, such as wars and climate change, the growing disparity between the wealthy and the poor, and what he said are “epic geopolitical divisions that are undermining global solidarity and trust.”
The U.N. chief’s comments come as the one-year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine nears.
Guterres in his speech said that the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine is inflicting huge suffering on the Ukrainian people and creating profound global implications.
“The prospects for peace keep diminishing. The chances of further escalation and bloodshed keep growing,” he said. “I fear the world is not sleepwalking into a wider war. I fear it is doing so with its eyes wide open.”
Guterres also pointed to the conflict between Israel and Palestine—where the establishment of a two-state solution is looking more and more unlikely—as well as the lack of women’s rights and continued terror attacks in Afghanistan.