UN chief visits Moscow amid criticism of Ukraine | The United Nations

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres traveled to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin in a bid to put the UN at the heart of Ukraine’s mediation efforts.

Guterres has been criticized by Ukraine for not visiting kyiv first and for not intervening decisively before the Russian invasion on February 24. He is also due to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov before heading to Ukraine.

“It is simply a mistake to go to Russia first and then to Ukraine,” Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelenskiy told reporters in kyiv on Saturday. “There is neither justice nor logic in this order. The war is in Ukraine, there are no bodies on the streets of Moscow. It would be logical to go to Ukraine first, see the people there, the consequences of the occupation”.

Some of Zelenskiy’s advisers said Guterres had no mandate to speak to Russia on their behalf.

The timing of the visit seems inauspicious, as both sides are heavily engaged in battle in the two major eastern regions of Luhansk and Donetsk, known collectively as Donbass, and the Ukrainian army is receiving its largest supply of United States heavy armory than at any time during combat.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said after meeting Zelenskiy on Monday: “We want to see Russia weakened to the point where they can’t do the kinds of things they did by invading Ukraine.”

Lavrov, for his part, claimed that NATO had become a legitimate target because of the supply of these weapons.

More than half – $1.9 billion – of US military aid to Ukraine since the war has arrived in the past two weeks. Over 60% of US military aid to Ukraine since the war has arrived in the past month: $2.3 billion.

The best hope for the Guterres mission is to make progress on ceasefires to help civilians leave trapped towns and to begin laying the groundwork for how Ukraine’s neutrality could be protected by the great powers once the fighting is over.

Guterres announced his mediation effort after more than 200 former United Nations officials sent him a letter urging him to try to intervene and warning that the UN was marginalized in the crisis to the point of disappearing.

One of the letter’s signatories, Franz Baumann, the UN’s deputy secretary-general until 2015, told the Guardian that former secretaries-general understood they had a role independent of the security council to protect the charter. of the UN, adding that the letter was drafted by the UN. patriots because the honor of the UN had to be defended.

He said that before the start of the war, the secretary general should have gone to Moscow to ask Putin to say if he was sincere when he said that the movement of troops on the Russian border from Ukraine did not pose a threat to the integrity of Ukraine, and “if he did not get a satisfactory answer, he should have gone to Beijing at the Winter Olympics ceremonies to ask the same question to Russia and China when they met.

“Then he should have gone to the capitals that covered themselves like Pretoria, Brasilia, New Delhi and Ankara to demand that they support peace.

He added that the duty of the secretary-general under article 99 of the charter was to bring to the attention of the security council any matter which, in his opinion, could threaten the maintenance of international peace and security. .

“It’s not enough to lament something,” he said. “He doesn’t seem to have grasped the concept that it is his responsibility to speak on behalf of the charter.”

Baumann recalled Kofi Annan’s visit to Baghdad before the Gulf War in 1998 and Boutros Boutros-Ghali’s visit to Sarajevo during the Bosnian War in 1993.

Andrew Gilmour, another letter signatory and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Human Rights until 2019, said: “It is very important for the long-term credibility of the UN that the SG is visiting now. From what I hear, there are thousands of UN staff – current and past – who in recent weeks have been very eager for Guterres to visit the affected countries. Yeah, there’s not a big chance that Guterres will pull anything off, and it certainly wouldn’t be his fault if he didn’t.

“Not being afraid to fail is a crucial leadership attribute for an UNSG – after all, what is a person’s self-esteem when it comes to avoiding the horrors of war?

“There are millions of people around the world who are hoping that Guterres will truly speak the truth to power in Moscow and make an impassioned but calculated plea in a way that no one else can do with Putin, and that would in any case be way the job description of the SG.”

Comments are closed.