Russia has officially launched an invasion of Ukraine early on Thursday following mounting tensions.
Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani expressed his country’s concern over the violent escalations between Russia and Ukraine on Thursday.
This came during two phone calls he held with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba.
Sheikh Mohammed has “urged all parties to exercise restraint and resolve the dispute through constructive dialogue and diplomatic methods”. He further stressed the importance of peacefully settling international disputes.
“His Excellency stressed the need to ensure the safety of civilians and consider this a top priority. His Excellency also affirmed Qatar’s position and keenness on the United Nations Charter and the well-established principles of international law,” said Qatar’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in a statement.
The Qatari diplomat emphasised the need to refrain from threat and use of force whilst adhering to the “sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of states”.
Earlier on Thursday, Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani received a phone call from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky. Sheikh Tamim urged all parties to ensure the protection of civilians and settle disputes through international means.
The phone calls came as Russia launches a full-scale military invasion on Ukraine, following months of mounting tensions.
The Gulf state has a significant regional and international role in conflict resolution, having long been a key mediator between warring factions in different conflicts around the world, and continues to advocate for resolving tensions through dialogue and diplomacy.
Qatar also has strong ties with both Russia and Ukraine due to various investments in both countries.
Loud explosions were heard near Kyiv on Thursday morning, as Ukrainian cities woke up to airstrikes on the orders of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.
“This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now,” tweeted Kuleba.
The attacks were instantly condemned by the US and the EU, both promising to hold Russia accountable for its latest offensive. The two entities have also vowed to impose sanctions on Russia.
“We strongly condemn Russia’s unjustified attack on Ukraine. In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” tweeted EU chief Ursula von der Leyen.
Ukraine has declared martial law throughout the country as attacks on persist.
“Dear Ukrainian citizens, this morning President Putin announced a special military operation in Donbas. Russia conducted strikes on our military infrastructure and our border guards. There were blasts heard in many cities of Ukraine. We’re introducing martial law on the whole territory of our country,” the Ukrainian president said in a video address.
Kuleba said that Putin has plunged Europe into its darkest time since the beginning of the second World War in 1939.
“Any government hoping to sit this out is naïve. Don’t repeat mistakes of the past,” he tweeted.
Right now, Putin is plunging Europe into its darkest time since 1939. Any government hoping to sit this out is naïve. Don’t repeat mistakes of the past. Hit Russia with severe sanctions now. Help Ukraine with military and financial support. Together we can #StopRussianAggression.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 24, 2022
Many people in Ukraine started fleeing the country as fear continues to ensue, with states such as Finland announcing their readiness to receive refugees.
Al Jazeera reported that an adviser to Ukraine’s president, Oleksii Arestovich, has said that at least 40 people have been killed. The media outlet, however, was unable to verify those numbers.
The UN’s high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi also called on neighbouring countries to keep their borders open for those seeking refuge.
“We have already seen reports of casualties and people starting to flee their homes to seek safety,” said Grandi.