Moscow (AFP) - Russia warned on Thursday that an offensive against the Yemeni port city of Hodeida could lead to "catastrophic consequences" for the entire war-ravaged country.
Yemeni forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition launched an assault on Wednesday to retake the rebel-held city, which is a key aid hub.
The Red Sea port serves as the entry point for 70 percent of the impoverished country's imports as it teeters on the brink of famine.
"The offensive against Hodeida risks triggering catastrophic consequences for all of Yemen," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement.
The peaceful population may find itself "on the brink of death" if the fighting leads to a blockade of the port, the statement said.
"They will face a frightening choice -- either to get killed in bombing and artillery strikes or die of hunger and disease."
Moscow added that the assault would deal a major blow to the "prospects of a political settlement of the Yemen crisis to which we still don't see an alternative."
The UN Security Council will meet later Thursday for talks amid mounting international concern about the humanitarian situation in the country.
The city of Hodeida, home to 600,000 people, was captured by Iran-backed Huthi rebels in 2014 along with the capital Sanaa.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and a bloc of other countries intervened in Yemen the following year with the goal of restoring the government to power.