Putin and Lavrov Set António Guterres Straight on Ukraine
April 26, 2022 (EIRNS)—UN Secretary General António Guterres arrived in Moscow today for a working meeting with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and was received by President Vladimir Putin. In his press conference with Lavrov, Guterres, claiming to come as a “messenger of peace,” expressed the arguments of the Western “war party”—that Russia had violated the UN Charter and international law, had illegally invaded Ukraine, and had failed to establish “effective” humanitarian corridors by which Ukrainian could be evacuated, especially those from Mariupol. His meeting with Lavrov was contentious, as Lavrov challenged the premises of these arguments.
Guterres called for an immediate ceasefire and proposed—as Kyiv has done—that Russia coordinate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to set up humanitarian corridors with Ukraine so that the civilians “holed up” at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol can be evacuated. This, of course, completely ignores the fact that the neo-Nazi Azov Brigade has prevented any military who wish to surrender or civilians who wish to leave that complex, from doing so, as per the neo-Nazis’ practice of using Ukrainian civilians as human shields. The underlying argument is that Russia is responsible for “failed” corridors.
The Azov neo-Nazis have been desperately trying to arrange for their own evacuation out of Mariupol to a “third country” to escape prosecution. As President Putin indicated, there are no combat operations currently taking place at the plant. According to TASS, Putin told Guterres, “True, we do hear the Ukrainian authorities say that there are civilians” in the Azovstal plant. “But then the Ukrainian forces are obliged to let them go. Otherwise, they act the way terrorists do in many countries of the world, like the Islamic State in Syria, by using the civilian population as a shield,” Putin said. “To let these people go is a very simple thing. Nothing can be easier.”
Putin informed Guterres that the UN Secretary General had been badly misinformed that Russia’s humanitarian corridors don’t work. As many as 130-140,000 people had left Mariupol with Russian assistance, he said, and “They are free to go where they wish. Some would like to move to Russia, and others to some other places in Ukraine. ... They have our all-round assistance and support.” Putin also insisted it was not true that Russia isn’t open to negotiations with Kyiv. He explained that certain progress had been achieved in the talks at Istanbul, which Russia viewed favorably, but then the “provocation at Bucha” occurred, which was blamed on the Russian army. After that, everything changed, and the Ukrainians backtracked on commitments they had previously made regarding the territories of Crimea, Sevastopol, and the republics of the Donbas. Nonetheless, negotiations continue, he said.
Putin told Guterres that as one of the founders of the United Nations and therefore a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Russia has always supported “this universal organization,” which is unique, and “we support in every possible way the principles on which the organization was founded.” He pointed out, however, how puzzling it is to hear some countries talk about a “rules-based world order.... We believe that the main rule is the United Nations Charter and other documents that are passed by that organization, rather than some papers that are written by someone to suit their own purpose or ensure their own interests.” He added that it is astonishing to hear the statements of some colleagues who say that “someone in the world is exceptional or claims exclusive rights, because the Charter of the United Nations states that all participants in international communication are equal to each other, regardless of power, size, or their geographic location.”