Amid escalating tensions in Ukraine, UN chief Ban Ki-moon spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and expressed grave concern over Russian forces seizing control of the Crimean peninsula and asked him to engage in direct dialogue with the authorities in Keiv.
Ban told Putin that "I am closely following the serious and rapidly unfolding developments in Ukraine. I am gravely concerned by some of the recent events in particular those that could in any way compromise the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country," acccording to a transcript released by Ban's office of his phone conversation.
Ban yesterday said it is "crucial" to restore calm and proceed to an immediate de-escalation of the situation.
"Cool heads must prevail and dialogue must be the only tool in ending this crisis. I appealed to President Putin to urgently engage in direct dialogue with the authorities in Keiv," he said.
Earlier, the spokesperson for the Secretary-General said Ban calls for an immediate restoration of calm and direct dialogue between all concerned to solve the current crisis.
The UN Security Council met again in a closed session where Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson, representing the UN chief, underlined the importance of "calm and restraint" and the importance of serious dialogue both inside and outside Ukraine.
Eliasson told the Council that the new Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksenov has appealed to Putin "to provide assistance in ensuring peace and tranquillity on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea."
Following the reported deployment of additional Russian troops and armoured vehicles to Crimea, the Russian Federation's Upper House of Parliament approved a request of President Putin for Russian forces to be used in Ukraine, "pending the normalisation of the public and political situation in that country," Eliasson told the Council.
"At this crucial moment it is important to recall the mission of this Organisation to always search for peaceful settlements of disputes. This is the essence of the UN Charter and should serve as our primary guide in this serious situation. Now is the time for cool heads to prevail,"he said.
He later told reporters that UNSC members discussed proposals about "mediation, related to monitoring, diplomatic initiatives" in Ukraine and "I know the Secretary-General takes this extremely seriously."