Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said the Russians are interested in genocide, not more negotiations.
Top Ukrainian officials on Sunday expressed disapproval of United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres’ planned meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week.
Ahead of the scheduled summit on Tuesday, Igor Zhovkva, deputy head of the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” in an interview that Guterres is “not really” authorized to speak on behalf of the Ukrainian government in efforts to negotiate a peace deal amid Russia’s invasion.
“This is not good idea to travel to Moscow. We did not understand his intention to travel to Moscow and to talk to President Putin,” Zhovkva said, sounding uncertain about the purpose of Guterres’ visit.
“Any peace talks are good if they end with the result. I really doubt if those peace talks organized by secretary-general of the U.N. would end up with any result,” Zhovkva said.
Zhovkva went on to call for reforms within the U.N. and accuse the intergovernmental organization of “lagging behind in Ukraine, in terms of humanitarian support to my country.”
“So it would be good if the U.N. secretary-general would concentrate on these things, as well,” Zhovkva said.
In an interview that aired on Sunday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told CBS’ “Face the Nation” that he was “not sure” whether Guterres’ trip signaled any kind of diplomatic breakthrough with Russia.
“So many leaders of countries of civilized world, international organization tried to have this negotiation. But it seems that the Russian Federation and Putin are not interested in this negotiation,” Shmyhal said.
“They are interested in other things,” Shmyhal continued. “They are interested in genocide of Ukrainians. They are interested in creation of migration crisis in Europe and in the world. They are interested in creation of food crisis, energy crises. So they do just these things, and we don’t know. … I’m not sure they are capable to hold these negotiations in proper way.”
Prior to visiting Russia on Tuesday, Guterres is scheduled to travel to Turkey on Monday to meet with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Then, in Russia, Guterres will have a working meeting and lunch with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and will be received by Putin, according to a U.N. statement.
On Thursday, Guterres is scheduled to travel to Ukraine to have a working meeting with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba and to be received by Zelenskyy. Guterres also is scheduled to meet with U.N. staff “to discuss the scaling up of humanitarian assistance to the people of Ukraine.”
Guterres’ trip to Ukraine will come after Oleksii Reznikov, the country’s defense minister, authored a scathing Wall Street Journal op-ed that was published last Thursday and accused the United Nations of being “an enabler of Russian war crimes.”
Zelenskyy also has issued harsh criticisms of the U.N. throughout Russia’s invasion. Speaking before the Security Council earlier this month, he demanded that the key U.N. panel punish Russia and curb its influence over the organization — or else dissolve itself entirely and admit it is powerless to stop Putin’s bloody war.
Days later, the U.N. General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council over allegations of war crimes. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield led the campaign to strip Russia of its seat.