United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Russia to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 26 in what was apparently the first direct dialogue between the two parties since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
In the past, the U.N. secretary-general often set out to mediate international conflicts at an early stage. But more than two months passed before Guterres finally conveyed his concerns to Putin. One must say the response was too slow.
At the meeting, Guterres criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a violation of the Charter of the United Nations. Putin, meanwhile, argued that Russia was acting in response to the requests of pro-Russian parties in Ukraine, and was in accordance with the Charter.
Putin’s claim unilaterally tramples on the sovereignty of an independent country, and cannot be tolerated. Russia is in a special position as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, and must be aware of its responsibility as a major power.
The two parties failed to reach an agreement in their talks about the purpose of Russia’s military action, but some progress was made in discussions about the country’s response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine — a point of strategic importance.
Putin said he will “in principle” accept the U.N. and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to evacuate civilians taking shelter in the Azovstal steelworks in the southeastern Ukraine city of Mariupol.
The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation has already announced that it will provide a humanitarian corridor for evacuation, but this has not been established due to ongoing fighting.
Guterres proposed creating a humanitarian liaison group between the two countries and the U.N. to discuss the humanitarian corridor. Russia must accept the suggestion and allow civilians to evacuate immediately.
The ceasefire talks between Russia and Ukraine have all but run aground since the discovery of a large number of suspected civilian bodies in Bucha, near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
The United Nation’s greatest mission is to end the war. If that cannot be achieved, it cannot put an end to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine.
Guterres called on the Russian side to cooperate, saying the U.N. is “extremely interested in finding ways in order to create the conditions for effective dialogue, create the conditions for a ceasefire as soon as possible, create the conditions for a peaceful solution.”
The U.N. Charter stipulates that the secretary-general should be independent and impartial from any country. Guterres is required to recognize this responsibility and actively work to mediate a ceasefire.