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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2nd L) meets United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (2nd R) in Moscow on April 26, 2021. (Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (2nd L) meets United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (2nd R) in Moscow on April 26, 2021. (Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

'For the Sake of Ukraine' and Beyond, UN Chief Urges Peace Amid Moscow Talks

High-level talks take place in the Russian capital as China's foreign ministry says, "No one wants to see the outbreak of a third world war."

Andrea Germanos

Amid ongoing concerns that Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine could lead to far broader and possibly nuclear warfare, high-level demands for a diplomatic resolution to the conflict hit a critical moment Tuesday with the United Nations chief in Moscow for an in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials.

Ahead of his meeting with Putin, Secretary-General António Guterres held a press conference with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov—who said Tuesday that NATO nations were risking "World War III" by continuing to flow arms into Ukraine.

Guterres said that he came to Moscow as a "messenger of peace" to try to "save lives and to reduce suffering."

Following a "very frank discussion" with Lavrov, said Guterres, "it is clear that there are two different positions on what is happening in Ukraine."

On the one side, he said, Russia continues to believe that "what is taking place is a 'special military operation' with the objectives that were announced."

In stark contrast, Guterres added, "according to the U.N., in line with the resolutions passed by the General Assembly, Russia's invasion of Ukraine is a violation of its territorial integrity and against the Charter of the United Nations."

"It is my deep conviction that the sooner we end this war, the better," he added, "for the people of Ukraine, for the people of the Russian Federation, and those far beyond."

The U.N. chief expressed concern about "repeated reports of violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and possible war crimes" and stressed an urgent need for humanitarian corridors.

Pointing also to "shock waves around the world" unleashed by the invasion, Guterres said that "the sooner peace is established, the better—for the sake of Ukraine, Russia, and for the world."

The foreign ministry of China, a country that has not yet condemned the invasion, also on Tuesday stressed a need for a diplomatic resolution and addressed Lavrov's comments regarding the threat of another world war.

"No one wants to see the outbreak of a third world war," said foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin, who expressed hope "relevant parties can keep cool-headed and exercise restraint, prevent escalation of tension, realize peace as soon as possible, and avoid inflicting a heavier price on Europe and the world."

As a first step, Wenbin called on all parties to "support dialogue and negotiation to prevent the expansion and prolongation of conflicts."

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