Ukraine – UN Secretary-General assures further action

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pledged further UN action to evacuate civilians in the Ukraine war and for food security. Contacts with the Russian and Ukrainian authorities are maintained, said Guterres after a meeting with Chancellor Karl Nehammer and Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (both ÖVP) in Vienna on Wednesday.

“We will conduct several such operations but will not make them public until they are complete,” said the UN Secretary-General. He recalled his efforts to evacuate civilians from Mariupol during his visits to Moscow and Kyiv. Also, behind-the-scenes talks would be held with Russia, Ukraine and Turkey to export wheat and other staples. It is important that the EU cooperates with the UN in this regard, said Nehammer.

Guterres and Nehammer both stressed the importance of maintaining contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin in view of their visits to Moscow. “It makes perfect sense to talk to the leader of the Russian Federation,” Guterres said. This makes it possible to better understand motivations and goals and to save the lives of civilians. “In my view, there can’t be one conversation too many, only one too few,” said Nehammer. It is necessary to be in contact with the parties to the conflict on both sides and to continue to seek dialogue, with Russia clearly being named as the aggressor.

answer must be a common one

“We should take every opportunity to come to a negotiated solution,” Guterres said in an interview with ORF’s “ZiB2”. Asked about a possible use of nuclear weapons by Russia, he said: “I cannot imagine the possibility of a nuclear confrontation in the 21st century.”

Guterres called on Europeans to provide financial support to Moldova, which has taken in large numbers of refugees from neighboring Ukraine. “We Europeans must not lapse into Eurocentric navel-gazing,” declared Schallenberg. The answer must be a common one. The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine was “in reality an attack on the charter of the United Nations” and the ban on the use of force. States are called upon to defend the system with the UN at heart. Austria, as the home country, will bear the costs for the renewal in Vienna, which is a good investment in the future. Nehammer also emphasized that, apart from the war in Ukraine, other trouble spots should not be forgotten.

Guterres had previously called for an end to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. “This senseless war has to stop,” said Guterres after a visit to Federal President Alexander van der Bellen. “The Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused massive devastation, destruction and suffering in the country.”

“This war will not last forever,” stressed the UN Secretary-General. The moment for peace negotiations will come again and his office will be ready for it, “but that’s not on the immediate horizon,” Guterres said. In view of the dramatic loss of life and the destruction in Ukraine, one should never give up hope.

UN indispensable for Van der Bellen

Van der Bellen thanked Guterres for his trip to Moscow and Kyiv, which had been successful given the situation in Mariupol. Austria, as a neutral state, will do everything possible to offer its mediation services in order to come to a lasting peace once the situation calms down, said Van der Bellen. The UN is “indispensable” for exchange at international level in numerous forums.

Guterres was also received by National Council President Wolfgang Sobotka (ÖVP). He emphasized that the United Nations “played a special role as a mediator in the Ukraine war and is more important today than ever”. Guterres was quoted in the parliamentary correspondence as saying that Austria is a country that people listen to and that has already shown great mediation in many situations.

Guterres will chair the spring meeting of the United Nations’ highest coordination and strategy body, which will take place at the UN headquarters in Vienna, until Friday. “The international community is a guest in Vienna and we are happy about it,” explained Schallenberg. Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler and Minister of Justice Alma Zadić met Volker Türk, the highest-ranking Austrian official in the UN General Secretariat, on the fringes of the spring meeting of the UN Chief Executives Board in Vienna. (apa)

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