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The United Nations Secretary-General struck an ominous tone Wednesday when asked about his recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the potential for a peace deal with Ukraine.
“It was clear for us that, at the present moment, there are no immediate chances of a peace agreement or immediate chances for a global ceasefire,” António Guterres told reporters.
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Guterres said the U.N. was instead focusing on humanitarian needs and coordinating evacuations with the aid of the International Committee of the Red Cross from devastated areas in Ukraine.
He said the U.N. was still working to facilitate channels between Kyiv and Moscow to facilitate evacuations and humanitarian corridors in the war-torn nation.
The U.N. head unequivocally condemned Moscow’s illegal invasion and said its devastation is seeping beyond Ukraine’s borders.
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing massive devastation, destruction and suffering in the country, triggering the largest displacement in Europe since World War II – and sending shockwaves across the region and world,” he told reporters. “This senseless war must stop.”
Guterres met with Putin late last month in a plea to allow for the safe evacuation of hundreds of civilians, including women, children and the elderly from Mariupol – the site of some of the toughest shelling since Russia’s invasion began in late February.
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The UN chief appeared unhopeful following the meeting. A Putin spokesperson later said the Kremlin agreed “in principle” with the concept of humanitarian evacuations.
Though the remaining women, children and elderly were eventually evacuated from the Azovstal plant two weeks later, it remains unclear if civilian men were forced to remain and what will happen to the soldiers holed up in the plant’s tunnels.
Guterres appeared to gain no additional knowledge on Putin’s plans in Ukraine following his visit to Moscow last month.
When asked what he thought Putin’s “endgame” is he scoffed and said, “If I knew that, I would have divining capacities.”
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“I hope nothing lasts forever. This war will not last forever,” Guterres said. “There will be a moment in which the peace negotiations will be on the table, there will be a moment in which I hope it will be possible to have, in line with the UN Charter and with international law, a solution for the problem.
“But one thing I can tell you: we will never give up,” he added.