In 'very close contact' with India: UN chief on mediation efforts to end Ukraine war
United Nations, Mar 28: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that he has been in "very close contact" with India and other countries including Turkey, China and Israel on mediation efforts towards bringing an end to the war in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military offensive against Ukraine on February 24.
"I've been in close contact with several countries that have been talking to the parties at the highest level in order to explore the different forms of mediation leading to a political solution. I've been in very close contact with our Turkish friends, with Qatar, with Israel, with India, China but also France, Germany. And it is my belief that all these efforts are essential in order to create the conditions to allow for, finally, this war to come to an end," Guterres told reporters here.
When asked if all those countries are supporting his effort, Guterres said, "I hope so." Last week, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla had met Guterres at the UN headquarters and discussed the situation in Ukraine, Afghanistan and Myanmar.
Sources had said that Shringla's meeting with Guterres lasted about an hour and the two discussed the issue of Ukraine. It is understood that Guterres had said that a country like India has a very major role to play given that India is one of the few countries that commanded respect across the board and was able to reach out to both the sides over the current situation, which needs countries and leaders who can play a role in helping resolve the issue.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has held several phone conversations with Russian President Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and called for immediate cessation of violence as well as concerted efforts from all sides to return to the path of diplomatic negotiations and dialogue.
Earlier also Guterres had said that he has been in close contact with a number of countries, including China, France, Germany, India, Israel and Turkey, on mediation efforts to "bring an end to this war." Guterres announced that exercising his good offices, he has asked Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths "immediately" to explore with the parties involved the possible agreements and arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine.
"Since the beginning of the Russian invasion one month ago, the war has led to the senseless loss of thousands of lives; the displacement of ten million people, mainly women and children; the systematic destruction of essential infrastructure; and skyrocketing food and energy prices worldwide. This must stop," Guterres said.
Asserting that the solution to the humanitarian tragedy caused by Russia's invasion of Ukraine is not humanitarian but political, the UN chief appealed for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, to allow for progress in serious political negotiations, aimed at reaching a peace agreement based on the principles of the United Nations Charter.
"A cessation of hostilities will allow essential humanitarian aid to be delivered and enable civilians to move around safely. It will save lives, prevent suffering, and protect civilians," he said.
Guterres expressed hope that a ceasefire will also help to address the global consequences of the war, which risk compounding the deep hunger crisis in many developing countries that already lack fiscal space to invest in their recovery from the pandemic, and now face soaring food and energy costs.
In the past month, UN humanitarian agencies and their partners have reached nearly 900,000 people, mainly in eastern Ukraine, with food, shelter, blankets, medicine, bottled water, and hygiene supplies.
There are now more than 1,000 United Nations personnel in the country, working via eight humanitarian hubs in Dnipro, Vinnytsia, Lviv, Uzhorod, Chernivitzi, Mukachevo, Luhansk and Donetsk, he said.
The World Food Programme and partners reached 800,000 people in the past month and are scaling up to reach 1.2 million people by mid-April. The World Health Organisation and partners have reached more than half a million people in the most vulnerable areas with emergency health, trauma and surgery kits.
In response to a question, Guterres said Griffiths, who is currently in Kabul, will "immediately start" his peace effort.
Guterres hoped Griffiths will be able to go to both Moscow and Kyiv as soon as that becomes possible. "It's very important to establish a serious dialogue with both parties in relation to the possibility of this humanitarian ceasefire." Griffiths tweeted that he began his visit to Afghanistan Monday at the Indira Gandhi Children's Hospital in Kabul. "I struggle to put into words how profoundly affected I was by the plight of the babies I met. Tiny, listless newborns, two to an incubator, suffering from acute malnutrition.
"A mother caring for her severely malnourished baby, after having already lost two children. Hospital staff telling me three newborns have already died today alone. They need our help."