Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a war-aggravated global food crisis will be front and center as world leaders gather at the United Nations in New York this week, a gathering that is unlikely to lead to progress. towards the end of the conflict.
“It would be naïve to think that we are close to the possibility of a peace agreement,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Saturday ahead of the high-level meeting of 193 member states, which begins on Tuesday.
“The chances of a peace deal are slim at the moment.”
Geopolitical divides, reinforced by the seven-month war, are likely to be on full display as the United States and Western allies vie with Russia for diplomatic influence.
Additionally, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said there were no plans to meet with Russian diplomats.
“They did not indicate that they were interested in diplomacy. They are interested in continuing to unleash this unprovoked war on Ukraine,” Thomas-Greenfield said.
She added as the war in Ukraine will be discussed, “we can’t ignore the rest of the world.”
António Guterres said the geopolitical divisions were “the widest since at least the Cold War” and “crippled the global response to the dramatic challenges we face”, highlighting conflict, climate, poverty, hunger and inequalities.
Russia and Ukraine are major grain and fertilizer exporters and the UN has blamed the war for worsening the food crisis already fueled by climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United States will co-host a food security summit with the European Union and African Union on the sidelines of the UN meeting, as well as a COVID-19 Global Action Plan meeting and a Replenishment Conference of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS and Tuberculosis. and Malaria.
“Underlying many of these meetings will be enormous tension between Western countries and representatives of Southern countries in particular,” said Richard Gowan, UN director at the International Crisis Group.
“There is still a lot of unease on issues such as the deployment of the COVID vaccine, climate finance… and now food prices. All of these issues create major differences among UN member states,” Gowan said.
Russia has attempted to break its international isolation after nearly three-quarters of the UNGA voted to reprimand Moscow and demand that it withdraw its troops within a week of its February 24 invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, his American counterpart Antony Blinken and French President Emmanuel Macron have all visited African states in recent months, vying for influence. Africa has been hit hard by a famine that is expected to break out in Somalia in the coming months.
Macron intends to use his two-day visit to New York to pressure countries that have remained neutral in the war to try to win them over to the West, French officials have said, emphasizing on India, the Gulf countries, Africa and some Latin American countries. states.
Attend in person
For the past two years, leaders have been allowed to submit video statements due to pandemic restrictions, but this year they must travel to New York to speak in the UNGA chamber. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping send their foreign ministers.
However, the UNGA agreed to allow Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to send a pre-recorded video statement. The decision was adopted with 101 votes for, 7 votes against and 19 abstentions. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba is expected to attend.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is also traveling to New York. Although Tehran and Washington are unlikely to overcome a stalemate soon to salvage a 2015 nuclear pact, Iran will use the rally to keep the diplomatic ball rolling by reiterating its desire to reach a lasting deal.
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