U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres’ diplomatic efforts to bring an end to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bloody war in Ukraine have been met with skepticism from Ukrainian officials.
Guterres announced on Saturday he’ll visit Russia and Ukraine this week to meet separately with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Zelenskyy questioned the purpose of Guterres’ trip to Moscow.
“Why? To hand over signals from Russia? What should we look for?” Zelenskyy said following the U.N. leader’s announcement, according to The Associated Press.
Igor Zhovkva, deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office, told NBC’s “Meet The Press” Sunday that the U.N. chief is “not really” authorized to speak on behalf of Ukraine.
“This is not good idea to travel to Moscow,” Zhovkva said. “We did not understand his intention to travel to Moscow and to talk to President Putin.”
Zhokva expressed doubt that talks led by Guterres would be constructive. He also called on the U.N. to provide more humanitarian support for Ukraine.
“Any peace talks are good if they end with the result,” Zhokva said.
Denys Shmyhal, Ukraine’s prime minister, said that despite multiple efforts to engage Russia in meaningful peace talks, it appears the Kremlin is uninterested.
“I think the Russian Federation and Putin are not interested in this negotiation,” Shmyhal said. “They are interested in other things. They are interested in genocide of Ukrainians.”
Last week, Guterres called for a four-day humanitarian cease-fire ahead of Orthodox Easter.
“Stop the bloodshed and destruction,” Guterres told reporters on Tuesday. “Open a window for dialogue and peace. Keep faith with the meaning and the message of Easter.”
Guterres’ proposal went unheeded, as Russian missiles killed five people in Ukraine’s Odessa over the weekend.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin met with Zelenskyy in Kyiv.
Blinken said that despite Russia’s efforts to strip Ukraine of its independence, Ukraine is pulling through.
“We’re seeing that when it comes to Russia’s war aims, Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding,” Blinken said.
The U.S. officials also pledged an additional $300 million in foreign military financing and said the U.S. had approved a $165 million sale of ammunition.
“We want to see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine,” Austin said.
President Joe Biden announced Monday he is nominating Bridget A. Brink, currently the U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, as the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine.