NEW YORK: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday will visit Turkey, an important mediator seeking an end to Russia’s war against Ukraine, before heading to Moscow and Kyiv, the UN said in a statement.
“The Secretary-General will visit Ankara, Turkey, where, on 25 April, he will be received by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan,” the UN said late Saturday.
Guterres will then head to Moscow on Tuesday to meet with Russian President Vladmir Putin, followed by a trip Thursday to Kyiv in an effort to mediate an end to Russia’s invasion, which has killed thousands and driven over 10 million Ukrainians from their homes since February 24.
The trip comes as the war enters its third month, with fierce battles continuing in the country’s east and scores of civilians and Ukrainian soldiers trapped in the besieged port city of Mariupol.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday criticized Guterres’s decision to head to Moscow before Kyiv, saying there is “no justice and no logic in this order.” “The war is in Ukraine, there are no bodies in the streets of Moscow. It would be logical to go first to Ukraine, to see the people there, the consequences of the occupation,” Zelensky said.
Turkey has been trying to negotiate an end to the conflict, hosting meetings between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators in Istanbul, as well as a summit between the two countries’ foreign ministers in Antalya.
Ankara is now trying to arrange an Istanbul summit between Putin and Zelensky, although Turkish officials concede that the prospects of such talks currently remain dim.