United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on Friday for a de-escalation in Europe, saying a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine would be “catastrophic”.

“There is no alternative to diplomacy, it’s high time to seriously de-escalate the situation at the Ukrainian border,” Guterres told the opening session of the three-day Munich Security Conference in Germany.

“With a concentration of Russian forces around the Ukraine, I am deeply concerned about heightened tensions and increased speculation about a military conflict in Europe,” he said.

The UN chief, however, added that he did not think a military conflict will happen in Europe.

“I still think it will not happen. But if it did, it would be catastrophic.”

He continued: “During much of the Cold War, there were mechanisms that enabled the protagonist to calculate risks, and use backchannels to prevent a crisis.”

Many of those systems no longer exist today, and most of the people trained to use them are no longer here, he added.

Therefore miscommunication and miscalculation can make a minor incident between powers escalate out of control, Guterres said.

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