UN chief embarks on Moscow trip amid criticism | Antonio Guterres News

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will embark on a difficult three-day trip to Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday amid criticism for the limited role the United Nations has played in managing the crisis.

Three months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, United Nations agencies are struggling to reach besieged civilians in the east of the country, where humanitarian assistance is sporadic.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council, where Russia is one of the five permanent members with veto power, failed to pass any Determined condemn the war.

Guterres may want to use the trip to revive a UN initiative in the humanitarian sector, while away from more controversial political questions, experts say.

“Guterres will strive to create new impetus for the UN to play a humanitarian outreach role in the evacuation of civilians, particularly from Mariupol, and in the broader context to allow the UN and other humanitarian agencies to access better than conflict zones,” said Jean-Marc Rickli, head of Global and Emerging Risks at the Geneva Center for Security Policy.

Guterres will meet in Moscow with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. But the decision of the Secretary General to kick off the first leg in the Kremlin has angered Ukraine.

“From the very beginning, this trip did not go well,” says Rickli. “In a polarized environment where social media facilitates misinformation, anything Guterres will do or say could be weaponized from one side or the other of the conflict. ”

Last month, the UN refugee agency UNHCR was criticized by Ukrainian officials for allegedly being unprepared to deal with the humanitarian crisis. Similarly, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been criticized for its alleged inaction and visit to Russia. ICRC President Peter Maurer was in Moscow in an effort to negotiate access to conflict zones.

In addition, the UN has also remained on the sidelines diplomatically in the peace talks led by Turkey. Analysts say Guterres may want discuss roles UN can provide in future peace negotiations involving the UN infrastructure and services, especially in the event of a future agreement where peacekeepers could be deployed. However, they agree that it is too early to talk about peace.

“We should not expect any major breakthrough from this meeting, because the situation is not yet ripe for a compromise,” said Andrey Kortunov, director general of the Russian Council of International Affairs. .

Weakness of the UN

Neither Russia nor Ukraine seem ready for serious negotiations.

Moscow has redeployed its forces to eastern Ukraine with the goal of conquering and annexing the Donbas region. Meanwhile, Ukraine has been emboldened by the success of the resistance movement since the Russian invasion on February 24.

“Mr Guterres is in a difficult position, because neither country is willing to hold peace talks,” Rickli said.

Meanwhile, Putin may want to use his meeting with Guterres to present Russia’s narrative of the invasion of Ukraine, which it has seen as a “special military operation” to the international community.

“He has the ability to repeat his standard story about the roots of the conflict and he will try to justify his decisions,” Kortunov said.

“He may also complain about what he believes to be the hypocrisy and double standards of the West.”

Mr. Kortunov noted that Putin and Guterres have very different views of the world and practice different leadership styles. However, despite their differences, Moscow accepted Guterres’ election to the position, and the two were on good terms.

Last week, Guterres called for a ceasefire during Orthodox Easter that would allow the safe movement of civilians from areas of current and expected confrontation with ICRC coordination. In addition, he called on the parties to allow the delivery of life-saving aid to people in the worst-affected areas such as Mariupol, a coastal city that has been under siege for weeks. His appeals were ignored.

Experts say Guterres’ weakness reflects the limitations of the structure he represents.

“In this environment for the UN to play a meaningful role in peacebuilding is now almost impossible. The UN’s weakness is a result of its very structure, especially the veto power of the permanent members of the UN Security Council that has crippled the organization because of the ongoing polarization between the West and the axis. Russian-Chinese. ‘ said Ricky. Although China has called for peace negotiations, it has not condemned Russia’s Actions in Ukraine.

According to the UN, more than 12 million people need humanitarian assistance in Ukraine, of which more than a third are in Mariupol, Kherson, Donetsk and Luhansk. The United Nations says that number will rise to 15.7 million, about 40% of all Ukrainians, still in the country, if the conflict continues.

Despite the practical limitations, the United Nations says some 2.5 million people have been supported in the past seven weeks, many of them in the east.

According to Shabia Mantoo, a spokeswoman for UNHCR, about 4.9 million refugees have left Ukraine since February 24. Bhanu Bhatnagar of the World Health Organization said the agency had transferred 218 tonnes of medical supplies. economic and emergency for Ukraine and about two-thirds of that, about 132 tons, have already arrived at their intended destinations in the east and north of the country.

Jakob Kern, emergency coordinator for the World Food Program for Ukraine, said Mariupol would probably need about two to three trucks of food a day. Currently, the agency can send 10 trucks per month.

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