Putin meets United Nations Secretary-General
The United Nations secretary-general Antonio Gutierrez on Tuesday met the Russian president Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin in Moscow to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
In a 106 word readout from the Kremlin meeting, following “tete-a-tete,” Gutierrez and Putin agreed for the evacuation of civilians held hostage by the Azov battalion in the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol under the auspices of the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
“The President agreed, in principle, to the involvement of the United Nations and the International Committee for the Red Cross in the evacuation of civilians from the Azovstal plant in Mariupol”, Stephane Dujarric the UN spokesman said. The UN further elaborated that talks are under way with the Russian Ministry of Defence to facilitate the evacuation.
On the question of civilians trapped in the besieged steel plant, the Russian President said. “We keep hearing from the Ukrainian authorities that there are civilians there. But then the servicemen of the Ukrainian army are obliged to release them, or they then act as terrorists in many countries of the world, like ISIS in Syria, hiding behind the civilian population. The easiest thing to do is to let these people out.”
The UN chief said he came to Moscow as a “messenger of peace” recalling that the UN repeatedly appealed for ceasefires to protect civilians, as well as political dialogue towards a solution, which both sides have ignored. He also told reporters that he had a frank discussion with the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov before meeting Putin. “It is clear that there are two different positions on what is happening in Ukraine.”
Putin on his part called on the UN to recognise the newly independent republics of Lugansk and Donetsk.
“I remember very well the decision of the International Court of Justice, which states that in exercising the right to self-determination, a territory of any state is not obliged to apply for permission to declare its sovereignty to the central authorities of the country,” Putin said.
Though the UN recognises Kosovo as part of Serbia many western nations do not.
“So many states in the world, including our opponents in the West, have done this with respect to Kosovo. Kosovo is recognized by a lot of states – it is a fact – by a lot of Western states it is recognized as an independent state. We did the same with respect to the republics of the Donbass,” Putin justifying the special military operation in Ukraine. The Donbass republics appealed for help and Russia obliged in line with the UN charter.
Gutierrez is now due in Kiev where he will meet the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky and the foreign minister Dimitri Kuleba
Source UN/Kremlin Press