Friday Aug 12, 2022
Friday Aug 12, 2022

UN chief and Russia’s Putin agree on key Ukraine evacuation


Nepalnews
2022 Apr 27, 12:19, United Nations
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, speaks to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during their meeting in the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 26, 2022. Photo: AP

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin met one-on-one Tuesday for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine, and the United Nations said they agreed on arranging evacuations from a besieged steel plant in the battered city of Mariupol.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the Russian leader and U.N. chief discussed “proposals for humanitarian assistance and evacuation of civilians from conflict zones, namely in relation to the situation in Mariupol.”

They also agreed in principle, he said, that the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross should be involved in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal steel complex where Ukrainian defenders in the southeastern city are making a dogged stand.

Discussions will be held with the U.N. humanitarian office and the Russian Defense Ministry on the evacuation, Dujarric said.

During the meeting, which the U.N. said lasted nearly two hours, Putin and Guterres sat at opposite ends of a long white table in a room with gold curtains bordered in red. No one else was at the table. 

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attend a news conference during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 26, 2022. 
Photo: AP
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attend a news conference during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, April 26, 2022. Photo: AP

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, Guterres has accused the Russians of violating the U.N. Charter, which calls for peaceful settlement of disputes.

He also has repeatedly called for a cessation of hostilities, most recently appealing unsuccessfully last Tuesday for a four-day “humanitarian pause” leading up to the Orthodox Easter holiday on Sunday.

The U.N. crisis coordinator in Ukraine, Amin Awad, followed up Sunday by calling for an immediate halt to fighting in Mariupol to allow an estimated 100,000 trapped civilians to evacuate.

Guterres said at a news conference after meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier Tuesday that safe and effective humanitarian corridors are urgently needed to evacuate civilians and deliver aid.

To deal with “the crisis within a crisis in Mariupol,” he proposed coordination between the U.N., Red Cross, and Ukrainian and Russian forces to enable the evacuation of civilians who want to leave “both inside and outside the Azovstal plant and in the city, in any direction they choose, and to deliver the humanitarian aid required.”

The U.N. chief also proposed establishing a Humanitarian Contact Group comprising Russia, Ukraine, and the United Nations “to look for opportunities for the opening of safe corridors, with local cessations of hostilities, and to guarantee that they are actually effective.”

Dujarric made no mention of a broader evacuation of civilians from Mariupol or Guterres’ Humanitarian Contact Group, but getting civilians out of the steel plant would be an important step.

On Saturday, a Ukrainian military unit released a video reportedly taken two days earlier in which women and children holed up underground in the plant, some for as long as two months, said they longed to see the sun.


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Antonio Guterres Vladimir Putin humanitarian Ukrainian defenders invaded Evacuation Mariupol Ukrainian military
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