Putin to receive UN chief for Ukraine talks
Moscow, Apr 22 (EFE).- Russian President Vladimir Putin will receive United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres next week for discussions on Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine, the Kremlin said Friday.
Guterres is set to arrive in Moscow on April 26 – two months after the start of the Russian invasion – and will meet with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as well as the president, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters.
The UN chief contacted Putin and Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelenskyy earlier this week asking to be received in the respective capitals.
In separate letters, Guterres said that “he would like to discuss urgent steps to bring about peace in Ukraine and the future of multilateralism based on the Charter of the United Nations and international law,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Wednesday.
The secretary-general had earlier urged Kyiv and Moscow to declare a four-day truce for Orthodox Easter, observed this year on Sunday, April 24.
Nearly 71 percent of Ukraine’s 41 million people identify as Orthodox Christians.
Zelenskyy’s government accepted the truce proposal, but Moscow rejected what Dmitry Polyanskiy, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the UN, described as “insincere” appeals for cease-fires.
Such calls “merely point to an aspiration to provide Kyiv nationalists breathing room to regroup” and receive more weapons, the Russian diplomat said during a session of the UN Security Council.
On Thursday, however, Putin ordered the Russian military to drop a plan to storm the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol.
The sprawling industrial complex, which covers 11 sq km (4.25 sq mi), is the last redoubt of Ukrainian government forces in the port city on the Sea of Azov, holding around 2,000 troops and – purportedly – 1,000 civilians.
In a televised Cabinet meeting, Putin told Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu that an assault on the complex would be too costly in Russian lives.
“I consider the proposed storming of the industrial zone unnecessary,” the Russian president said, ordering the military instead to wait for the Ukrainians to run out of supplies. EFE mos/dr