Russian President Vladimir Putin met with visiting United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the Kremlin on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian crisis originated after Kyiv’s “unconstitutional coup” in 2014, Putin told Guterres, and people in Donbas remained under restriction and military pressure even after reaching the Minsk agreements on a peaceful settlement. The Donbas “republics,” according to Putin, have the right to declare their sovereignty, and Russia has the right to recognize their independence and supply them with military aid in full compliance with the UN Charter.
Putin stated that “Despite the ongoing military operation, we remain hopeful that we will be able to secure diplomatic arrangements. We’re in the middle of a negotiation, and we’re not going to say no.”
Guterres urged that the UN, Russia, and Ukraine form a contact group to discuss the situation and ensure that the humanitarian corridors are actually effective.
He further stated that the UN is prepared to fully mobilize its logistical and human resources to address the situation in Mariupol, Ukraine, in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), as well as the Russian and Ukrainian military forces.
Guterres also stated that the UN, in collaboration with the ICRC, is prepared to examine the situation at the Azovstal plant in the next two or three days in order to evacuate civilians.
However, Putin responded by denying reports that Russian humanitarian corridors are not functioning and stating that 130,000 to 140,000 people have left Mariupol with Russia’s assistance and are free to go wherever they want.
Putin also invited representatives from the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross to observe how Russia treats Ukrainian war detainees.
Guterres met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara on Monday ahead of his travel to Moscow. Following his meeting with Putin, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will go to Ukraine.