The meeting between Vladimir Putin and the UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has left us a phrase from the Russian president in which he acknowledges that the situation in the Ukrainian city of Mariúpol is “tragic”. “There the situation is difficult and, it may be, even tragic,” Putin used in his confrontation with Guterres.
Putin stressed that in Tuesday’s telephone conversation with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoganhe told him that “military actions take place” in Mariupol, to which the Russian leader replied: “There are no military actions there. They are over,” he insisted, recalling that almost 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers laid down their arms and surrendered.
He also made reference to the delicate situation in the Azovstal steelworks, where the Ukrainian troops who fight and survive as best they can take refuge. Along with them, a thousand civilians, including women and children, take refuge underground.
The Russian leader pointed out that the area is “completely isolated”. “I have given the order not to carry out any assault action,” he noted. In addition, he stressed that the Russian Army has asked the combatants in Azovstal to surrender and recalled that with the soldiers of Mariupol who surrendered “nothing has happened”.
“It is a crime to retain civilians as human shields, if there are any,” he said. In addition, Putin corrected Guterres when he lamented that the humanitarian corridors opened by Russia do not work. “They have been misinformed. They work. More than 100,000 have left Mariupol with our help. About 130,000 or 140,000 have left. And they can go wherever they want,” he said.
Putin radically disagreed on Tuesday in his assessment of the conflict in Ukraine with Guterres, who did not hesitate to call “invasion” to Russia’s military campaign, which he called on to collaborate with the international community in opening humanitarian corridors. “It is quite evident that there are two different positions about what is happening in Ukraine,” Guterres stated at a press conference.
Guterres, who experienced moments of tension in his consultations with the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, confirmed that Russia defines the current conflict as “a special military operation”meanwhile, “according to the UN (…), the Russian invasion in Ukraine is a violation of the territorial integrity of a country that contradicts the UN statutes.”