Zelensky and Johnson unveil a plaque with Johnson's name on the Alley of Bravery after a joint news briefing in Kyiv on August 24, 2022. Image Credit: REUTERS

UNITED NATIONS: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday called the six-month anniversary of the start of Russia’s war in Ukraine a “sad and tragic milestone.”

Guterres made the comments during a special meeting of the UN Security Council in New York to mark the anniversary of Russia’s launch of attacks on its neighbor on February 24.

The UN chief described the six months of conflict as “devastating.”

“The consequences of this senseless war are being felt far beyond Ukraine,” said Guterres, referring to its impact on food and fuel prices.

“If we don’t stabilize the fertilizer market in 2022, there simply will not be enough food in 2023,” the secretary-general warned.

Guterres said he remained “gravely concerned” about military activity around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine, Europe’s largest atomic power plant.

“The warning lights are flashing,” he said.

“Any further escalation of the situation could lead to self-destruction. The security of the plant must be ensured, and the plant must be re-established as purely civilian infrastructure,” he added.

The plant is occupied by Russian troops and threatened by shelling, which Moscow blames on Kyiv.

In Kyiv, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson lauded Ukraine for its “indomitable” resistance to Russia’s attacks during a surprise visit to the Ukraine capital on Wednesday, and said now was not the time to promote a “flimsy plan for negotiation” with Moscow.

Zelensky awards Johnson during their meeting in Kyiv on August 24, 2022. Image Credit: AP

Johnson, who is due to leave office next month, spoke at a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on his fourth trip to Ukraine this year as Ukraine celebrated 31 years of independence from the Soviet Union.

Johnson, whom Zelensky described as his “dear friend Boris”, said it was vital that Europe keep up its military and economic support for Ukraine even as rising energy and food prices were causing some consumers pain.

“We also know that if we’re paying in our energy bills for the evils of Vladimir Putin, the people of Ukraine are paying in their blood,” Johnson said.

Johnson is due to leave office in less than two weeks, but the two candidates to replace him, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and former finance minister Rishi Sunak, have both pledged to continue Britain’s support for Ukraine.

The outgoing British leader warned against “any creeping attempt to normalise relations with Putin,” especially given growing signs that the Russia offensive was failing and that Putin was racking up what he called colossal losses.

“This is not the time to advance some flimsy plan for negotiation with someone who is simply not interested. You can’t negotiate with a bear while it’s eating your leg,” he said.