UNITED NATIONS: UN chief Antonio Guterres warned nations Monday that he fears the likelihood of further escalation in the Russia-Ukraine conflict means the world is heading towards a “wider war.”

The secretary-general laid out his priorities for the year in a gloomy speech to the United Nations General Assembly that focused on Russia’s invasion, the climate crisis and extreme poverty.

“We have started 2023 staring down the barrel of a confluence of challenges unlike any in our lifetimes,” he told diplomats in New York.

Guterres noted that top scientists and security experts had moved the “Doomsday Clock” to just 90 seconds to midnight last month, the closest it has ever been to signaling the annihilation of humanity.

The secretary-general said he was taking it as a warning sign.

“We need to wake up — and get to work,” he implored, as he read out a list of urgent issues for 2023.

Top of the list was Russia’s war in Ukraine, which is approaching its one-year anniversary.

“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.”

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