Russia-Ukraine crisis: ‘Diplomacy the only way’- UN Chief
UN, RUSSIA,UKRAINE: United Nations chief Antonio Guterres spoke to the foreign ministers of Russia and Ukraine on Monday, expressing “serious concern” over the heightened tensions between the countries, his spokesman said.
During the telephone talks, Guterres told Russia’s top diplomat Sergei Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba that diplomacy was the only way forward, said spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“The Secretary General expressed to both Foreign Ministers his serious concern over the heightened tensions around Ukraine,” Dujarric told reporters.
“He welcomed the ongoing diplomatic discussions to defuse those tensions and underline yet again the fact that there is no alternative to diplomacy,” the spokesman added.
Dujarric said Guterres was still convinced that Russia will not invade Ukraine, a position he expressed during a press conference on January 21.
The United Nations has some 1,660 staff in Ukraine including 1,440 Ukrainians and 220 foreigners. “There are no plans for evacuation or relocation of UN staff” from Ukraine, Dujarric said.
Meanwhile, Russia suggested on Monday that it was ready to keep talking to the West to try to defuse a security crisis in which it has massed a huge force within striking distance of Ukraine, while a Ukrainian official said Kiev was prepared to make concessions to Moscow.
In a televised exchange, President Vladimir Putin was shown asking his Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whether there was a chance of an agreement to address Russia’s security concerns, or whether it was just being dragged into tortuous negotiations.
Lavrov replied: “We have already warned more than once that we will not allow endless negotiations on questions that demand a solution today.”
But he added: “It seems to me that our possibilities are far from exhausted … At this stage, I would suggest continuing and building them up.”
Meanwhile, after 2½ years in office Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is watching his once-enormous support dissolve as Ukraine stands on what many fear is the verge of a Russian invasion that would not only take the rebel regions but possibly the rest of the country.
But Ukrainians have little confidence that Zelenskyy can ensure stability. According to a January poll by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology, only 30% of the country’s people want Zelenskyy to run for a second term and even fewer 23% would vote for him.
– THE HINDUSTAN TIMES, THE TELEGRAPH INDIA, THE MALAY MAIL