Sunday, April 2, 2023

Associated Press interview: Kyiv wants UN to demand Mariupol evacuation

KYIV, Ukraine ( Associated Press) – Ukraine’s foreign minister urged the UN chief on Tuesday to vacate the besieged port of Mariupol to put pressure on Russia, calling it something the world body has been able to achieve.

Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba told the Associated Press in an interview on Monday that he was concerned that visiting Moscow ahead of a trip to Kyiv could leave UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres more vulnerable to falling into a Kremlin “trap” in the war.

“Many other foreign officials were stuck in Moscow and playing around to show the supremacy of Russian diplomacy and how great they are and how they treat the world,” he said.

Guterres “should focus primarily on one issue: the evacuation of Mariupol,” Kuleba said, referring to the seaside town where an estimated 100,000 people are stranded, while a contingent of Ukrainian fighters from the Russian army in a steel mill. against, where there are also hundreds of civilians. taking shelter.

“It’s really something that the United Nations is capable of doing. And if he demonstrates political will, character and integrity, I hope it gives us a step forward.”

Kuleba spoke a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv.The highest-level US visit to the capital since the invasion of Russia on February 24.

He told Zelensky that the US would provide more than $300 million in foreign military financing and had approved $165 million for the sale of ammunition.

Kuleba praised the visit and called him “representative of a country that did more than any other country in the world” for Ukraine.

Asked whether the new announcements had gone far enough, Kuleba said that “as long as Russian troops set foot on Ukrainian soil, nothing is enough.”

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“We appreciate everything that has been done, including in the United States,” Kuleba said. “We understand that, for some, what has been done is already a revolution, but it is not enough as long as the war continues.

“It’s not because Ukrainians are greedy, it’s not because we want to seize the opportunity and get as many as we want. No, it’s because we need to win this war.”

Kuleba emphasized the need for the West to rapidly provide the weapons Ukraine needed to win the war and prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from “going deep into Europe”.

“You know, every conversation about weapons starts with us saying, ‘We need this.’ And the initial answer is ‘We don’t think you need it at all. … Let us reflect on it.’ It takes some time for the partners to reflect, but the problem is that the war is on here,” he said.

“Finally, we get what we need, and then we start getting enough of it. But time is lost. This is the main issue that needs to be addressed, and we were very open with our particular US counterparts and with other countries on that as well. Start doing things fast. ,

Although Ukraine and Russia have held talks on ending the war since their early days, Kuleba said he thought anything less than a discussion between Zelensky and Putin would bring a solution.

On his Russian counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Kuleba said: “I don’t think he is ready for serious talks.”

He said he does not think Russia is ready to find a “solution on the negotiating table”.

“But if I see that they change this attitude and they are ready to seriously look at mutually acceptable solutions, then I will put aside my hatred and sit down and talk with them,” Kuleba said.

“The sooner President Putin agrees to meet with President Zelensky, the more likely the moment of the end of the war will be brought closer,” he said.

“I don’t give 100% guarantees, but I trust my president. I understand that he is ready for that conversation and he knows how to negotiate. The longer President Putin avoids this meeting, the better. More likely he is focused solely on the war scenario,” Kuleba said.

He reiterated Zelensky’s position that an increase in Mariupol would ruin the prospects for talks with Russia.

“We sent a very clear message: If you want to kill those people or you want to take them prisoner and humiliate, that will be all. That would be the red line,” he said. It’s not enough to keep things as they are. It’s really important to save them all, save them.”


Associated Press journalist Inna Varenitsia in Kyiv contributed.


Follow Associated Press’s coverage of the war


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