A ceasefire in Ukraine is not in sight, but it could come in the coming weeks depending on how the war proceeds and negotiations underway, according to Martin Griffiths, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.
“A ceasefire…they’re not in sight at the moment, but it could be in a couple of weeks. It might be a little bit longer than that,” Griffiths said Monday to reporters at United Nations Headquarters in New York City.
Griffiths said he plans to go to Turkey later this week to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to determine ways the United Nations can help support the peacekeeping operation and negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. He added that he was “really impressed” by Turkey’s role in the conflict, describing the country as an “important aspect” of the situation.
“We need to monitor the talks very carefully, hence the visit to Turkey this week,” Griffiths said.
Griffiths said he also hoped Turkey could host a “humanitarian contact group” through which negotiations on humanitarian aid could be discussed. He said Ukrainian officials had already agreed to this and that he hoped Russian officials would, too.
Griffiths added that Ukrainian officials have agreed to most of the proposals made by the United Nations regarding humanitarian aid and a ceasefire, but Russia has not provided a similar response so far.
It is clear that we have not yet implemented the ceasefire on humanitarian grounds. On the Russian side, I went into a lot of detail about this, and they kept promising to get back to me on the specifics of those proposals,” Griffiths said. “In Ukraine, the meeting with their leadership was very welcome. They have approved most of our proposals, and we have not yet received the same response from the Russian Federation.”
On March 28, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accused Griffiths of meeting with officials from both Ukraine and Russia on arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine.
Griffiths said he recently met with Ukraine’s prime minister, two deputy prime ministers, Ukraine’s defense minister and deputy foreign minister for this reason. He had previously said he met Russian officials on April 4.
Griffiths said the aim of the discussions with the parties was to ensure that the authorities were aware of the UN’s humanitarian aspirations and to discuss ways in which the UN could improve the humanitarian notification system.
Griffiths said Ukrainian officials had agreed to the idea of a joint humanitarian liaison group and the idea of a local ceasefire for the purpose of delivering humanitarian aid, but said the Russians “have not put a local ceasefire at the top of their agenda, not yet.”
“On the humanitarian side, we need to accept a lot more, primarily from the Russian Federation, to allow convoys in and convoys,” Griffiths said.
When asked if he thinks Russia will implement, in good faith, a permanent ceasefire, Griffiths said he will continue to try to facilitate and mediate, even though the Russian side has not moved for now.
“Hope is the currency of the medium,” Griffiths said. “In every war I’ve had anything to do with, you always always start from the base of hopelessness because it looks so horrible, and the atrocities are so horrible… you keep doing it, because frankly, what’s the alternative?” He added, “Not to continue with that.” [negotiations]That would be irresponsible.”
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