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UN chief called for accountability after touring destroyed Ukrainian towns

Newsman: The United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres has called for accountability after touring devastated areas near Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, where Russia has been accused of committing war crimes. The UN chief is due to hold talks with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy later on Thursday.

The secretary-general is seeing up and close for himself what the Ukrainians have been talking about and that is something Zelenskyy wanted him to see before he [Guterres] headed to Moscow.

The visit on Thursday, Guterres’s first to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in late February, comes two days after he met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow, where he stressed the need for so-called “humanitarian corridors”, particularly out of the besieged southeastern city of Mariupol.

The UN secretary General kicked off his Ukraine visit by heading to several towns on the outskirts of Kyiv where Moscow’s forces are alleged to have killed civilians and carried out other atrocities before retreating to refocus their offensive on the eastern Donbas region.

“When I see those destroyed buildings, I imagine my family in one of those houses now destroyed and black. I see my granddaughters running in panic,” he told reporters in Borodyanka, northwest of the Ukrainian capital, from beside the wreckage of apartment blocks.

 “The war is an absurdity in the 21st century – the war is evil and when you see these situations, our heart of course stays with the victims, our condolences to their families. But our emotions – there is no way a war can be acceptable in the 21st century.”

UN chief Guterres’s visit also saw him travel to Irpin and Bucha, where alleged Russian atrocities included the killing of hundreds of civilians.

Multiple probes, including by Ukrainian authorities and the International Criminal Court (ICC), have been launched to investigate the potential war crimes in Ukraine.

“Here, you feel how important it is for a thorough investigation and accountability,” Guterres said in Bucha.

“I fully support the International Criminal Court and appeal to the Russian Federation to accept to cooperate with the ICC. But when we talk of war crimes we cannot forget that the worst of crimes is war itself,” added the UN chief, whose decision to kick off the first leg of his trip at the Kremlin caused upset in Ukraine.

Russia denies targeting civilians and civilian buildings, in what it calls a “special military” operation to “demilitarise and denazify” Ukraine.

Negotiations between Russian and Ukrainian delegates have stalled and hopes for a ceasefire faded in the face of heavy fighting in Ukraine’s east and southern regions.

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