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Kyiv furious over UN chief's remarks on Russia

"I'm completely outraged by such a statement," says Ukrainian envoy

Kyiv furious over UN chief's remarks on Russia
Ban Ki-moon
Photo: Photo: EPA/UPG

Ukrainian government was outraged by remarks made by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon about the crucial role Russia can play in ending conflicts, Ukraine's Ambassador to UN Volodymyr Yelchenko said on 16 June.

Ban's prepared speech for the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum said Russia "has a critical role to play ... in addressing other pressing global issues, from ending the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria, to safeguarding human rights and controlling the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

The delivered version was slightly different. It did not mention Ukraine but said Moscow "has a very important role to play and I really count heavily on the leadership of the Russian Federation," the press office of the United Nations said in release later in the day.

In the meantime, Ukrainian Ambassador Volodymyr Yelchenko told reporters he was incensed by Ban's remarks which came across as praise of Moscow, which has been supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. "I'm completely outraged by such a statement," he said.

"I don't understand how the head of the United Nations can say such things."

Yelchenko said Ban's remarks appeared "to praise the role of the Russian Federation in settling the conflict in Ukraine, when the Russian Federation is the main player [being an aggressor state toward] Ukraine."

"I don't think that he has any moral right anymore to say anything about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine," Yelchenko said, noting he would deliver an official protest letter later on Thursday.

Ban's spokesman Stephane Dujarric declined to comment in detail. "The fact is ... the Russian Federation is a permanent member of the Security Council and has a critical role to play," Dujarric said. "We're not going to walk back what we said."