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UN chief Antonio Guterres will visit Moscow on Tuesday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in an effort to ease the suffering of civilians and end the escalating war in Ukraine, before heading to Kyiv to meet the Ukrainian president.
Mr Putin will host a reception for the secretary general in Moscow, said UN spokeswoman Eri Kaneko. Mr Guterres will also have a “working meeting and lunch” with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to “further discussions” on halting Europe's worst war in decades.
He will discuss “what steps can be taken right now in order to silence the guns, in order to help the people and in order to allow the people who need to get out to get out and have safe passage”, Ms Kaneko told reporters in New York.
Details of the meeting were confirmed by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Mr Guterres will then visit Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv on April 28, his spokesman announced.
The UN has been largely sidelined from the crisis since Mr Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24. The Russian leader has not taken Mr Guterres's phone calls since the UN chief said the unprovoked invasion violated the UN charter.
Earlier this week, Mr Guterres delivered a statement in front of a UN peace sculpture, calling for the rival armies to lay down their guns over the Orthodox faith’s Easter holiday for a four-day truce beginning on Thursday.
His request gained little traction. Russian officials within hours proclaimed they had fully conquered the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and later said they planned to seize much of southern and eastern Ukraine.
A Russian diplomat at the UN said he was “sceptical” about the UN's call for a truce.
UN efforts to open humanitarian corridors and to help civilians leave bombed-out Ukrainian cities have made little progress. UN officials say Moscow has not prioritised their overtures towards peace.
Russia says it has been conducting a “special military operation” to disarm and “denazify” its smaller neighbour.