UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is going to Moscow on Tuesday to speak with Russian President Vladimir Putin. It is the start of a tricky three-day journey for Guterres, who is expected to try to revamp the UN’s humanitarian efforts and steer clear of controversial political issues.
After two months of the war, UN agencies are still unable to reach civilians in desperate need of aid in Eastern Ukraine. Furthermore, the UN Security Council has failed to make any resolutions denouncing the war as Russia is one of the five permanent members with the power of veto.
“Guterres will try to provide a new momentum for the UN to play a role for humanitarian access in the evacuation of civilians, especially from Mariupol, and in a broader context to allow better access of UN and other humanitarian agencies to the conflict zones.” according to security expert Jean-Marc Rickli.
The move has been criticised in Ukraine as the Kremlin may use it for propaganda, but also for visiting Moscow before Kyiv.
“From the outset this trip has started off on the wrong foot,” said Rickli. “In such a polarised environment where social media so facilitate disinformation, anything Guterres will do or say might be weaponised from one side or the other of the conflict.”
On Monday, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that there is a “real” danger of a Third World War on Russian state media. Nevertheless, he stressed that Russia would find such a war intolerable and that Russia wants to reduce the “artificial” risks of a nuclear war.
“The danger is serious, it’s real, you can’t underestimate it,” Lavrov said on the risk of a third world war.
Lavrov also accused NATO of “waging war with Russia” through Ukraine. However, he underlined that the war in Ukraine would end with an agreement.
“Everything will, of course, finish with the signing of an accord,” Lavrov said. “But the parameters of this accord will be defined by the state of the fighting that will have taken place at the moment the accord becomes a reality,” he added.