United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is requesting audiences with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Ukraine to discuss the urgent need to bring about peace, according to a UN spokesperson.
Guterres would like “to discuss urgent steps to bring about peace in Ukraine and the future of multilateralism based on the Charter of the United Nations and international law,” according to a statement from UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.
Separate letters were handed over to the Russia and Ukrainian missions Tuesday, Dujarric said. The spokesperson noted that Guterres is awaiting responses from the Russian and Ukrainian governments on a request for a meeting, taking it “one step at a time.”
Dujarric said he would be accompanying the secretary-general if he were to travel but couldn’t elaborate on who else would go.
“We will share with you information on the delegation when we reach that step," he said.
He also wouldn’t elaborate on whether Guterres would travel to one country and not the other if only a single country accepted the request.
“We're going to wait to see responses and then we'll make decisions ... based on the responses we receive," he said.
Asked whether the secretary-general regretted not requesting meetings sooner, he said Guterres “has been doing what he thinks is the most practical and the best way forward for him to deploy his good offices and the work of the UN.”
"We are moving on a path that the secretary-general has established. The regret is that this conflict keeps going and that the people keep suffering,” he later said.
He noted that Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin crossed paths briefly in Beijing for the Winter Olympics, but Putin had left before they could meet.
“We have been in verbal contact with the permanent mission of Russia a number of times, to try to get at least contact, direct contact, between the secretary-general and the president," he said.