No significance to UN chief’s stop in Russia first, spokesman says
A United Nations (UN) spokesperson said on Monday that there is no significance in U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres visiting Russia before Ukraine as the conflict between the two countries rages on.
U.N. Deputy-Spokesman Farhan Haq confirmed to The Hill on Monday that Guterres plans to visit both countries during his official trip.
“Yes, he is visiting both,” Haq said in a statement. “There is no significance in which country is visited first.”
During a press briefing, Haq said Guterres’s goal for the official visits is to end the ongoing fighting in the region, also noting he wants to improve the humanitarian situation in Ukraine as well, according to CNN.
“It’s important that he is able to talk clearly with the leadership on both sides and see what progress we can make. Ultimately, the end goal is to have a halt to fighting, and to have ways to improve the situation of the people in Ukraine, lessen the threat that they’re under and provide humanitarian aid towards them,” Haq told reporters.
This comes as Guterres requested in a letter on Friday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in hope of discussions to end the ongoing conflict with Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began on Feb. 24, has killed thousands on both sides and led about 5.2 million refugees to flee the country due to ongoing fighting.
Russian forces have now focused their attention on the eastern part of Ukraine after abandoning an attempt to take control of the capital city of Kyiv earlier this month.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday that he spoke with Guterres about his upcoming visit to the two countries, saying he expects Guterres will carry out “a very strong and clear message” to Putin on ending the invasion.
“I spoke to the U.N. secretary-general on Friday and he is heading to Moscow early this week, and our expectation is that he’s going to carry a very strong and clear message to Vladimir Putin, which is the need to end this war now — the need for a cease-fire; the need for humanitarian corridors, for aid to get in, for people to be able to get out; the need for Russia to stop its brutalization of Ukraine. It’s a clear, direct message that he should be carrying on behalf of virtually the entire international community,” Blinken told reporters on Monday.