Ukraine envoy in Geneva warns of Russian attack

Evidence suggests Moscow is preparing a large-scale assault in southern and eastern parts of Ukraine, the crisis-hit country's ambassador to the United Nation in Geneva warned on Thursday.

Ukraine envoy in Geneva warns of Russian attack
Photo: UN

"There are indications that Russia is braced to unleash a full-blown intervention on Ukraine's east and south," said Yurii Klymenko, Kiev's ambassador.
"Ukraine is on the highest alert to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity by all means," he told reporters, adding that Kiev still hoped that the UN could stem the crisis and had repeatedly called for talks.
The march by Russian troops and pro-Kremlin militias across Crimea, a mostly Russian-speaking peninsula, has been unhalting since President Vladimir Putin reserved the right to use force against his ex-Soviet neighbour following the February 22nd fall of its Moscow-backed leader.
After Moscow's annexation of Crimea, Kiev's new leaders and their Western allies fear that Putin has his sights on the Russified southeastern swathes of Ukraine.
The Kremlin says it needs to "protect" Russian-speakers beyond its borders, something Klymenko rejected.
"Russia is just exploiting this issue of national minorities in order to invade," he said, adding that Ukraine had no quarrel with Russian-speakers or the people of Russia.
"The facts indicate that Crimea is not the only region of Ukraine that could be an object of Russian invasion," he said.
Klymenko said a Russian military build-up in Kherson, a Ukrainian province just north of Crimea, indicated a planned onslaught, and also cited allegations that Russians were laying landmines in the area.
He said Russian citizens had taken part in attacks on administrative buildings in eastern Ukraine, while Ukrainian authorities had detained individuals with Russian security service IDs who had come to lend support to hardline separatists.
"Ukraine and the Ukrainian people are ready to protect their homeland by all means necessary," Klymenko said, though "at this stage we are committed to a peaceful solution."
In Crimea, Kiev initially ordered its troops not to use their weapons against pro-Russian adversaries, but later said they could fire back if attacked.
"The use of the right to self-defence would be the last resort for Ukraine," Klymenko said.
Klymenko said that with Moscow ripping up the post-Soviet security guarantees it helped to create in the 1990s, the situation was "very dangerous for the whole international community."
He raised the spectre of further Kremlin strong-arming, pointing to tensions with Moldova and Estonia.

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Shareholder group urges Switzerland’s Nestle to halt all Russia business

Nestle must halt all its activities in Russia, the Actares shareholder organisation said Monday, ramping up the pressure after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky singled out the Swiss food giant.

Shareholder group urges Switzerland's Nestle to halt all Russia business

Nestle has suspended all its imports and exports to Russia, including Nespresso coffee pods and S.Pellegrino bottled water, but has maintained deliveries of vital products such as baby food.

In a speech live-streamed to a rally outside the Swiss federal parliament in Bern on Saturday, Zelensky urged Swiss companies to cease doing business in Russia, picking out Nestle, and condemned firms that carried on regardless despite the siege of Mariupol.

“Actares — shareholding for a more responsible economy — urges Nestle to consider President Zelensky’s call in the Federal Square to stop doing business with Russia!”, the group, one of Switzerland’s top shareholders’ associations, said in a statement.

Nestle insisted Sunday that it was not making any profits in Russia, winding down many of the firm’s activities in the country following the Kremlin-ordered invasion of neighbouring Ukraine on February 24.

READ MORE: Ukraine’s Zelensky blasts Swiss banks in address to Bern rally

“We have stopped all our investments there and have ceased all our advertising activities,” a spokeswoman told AFP. “We do not make any profit from our remaining operations in Russia.

“We are doing everything possible in Ukraine and neighbouring countries to help alleviate this humanitarian catastrophe.”

Several US multinationals have withdrawn from Russia, like the fast food chain McDonald’s and the beverage giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Nestle has been the subject of a call for a boycott circulating on social media networks.

On Monday, Zelensky called on European leaders to cease all trade with Russia in an effort to pressure Moscow to halt its nearly month-long military assault on Ukraine.