Russian forces have started the Battle of Donbass, according to Zelensky

An Interior Ministry sapper recovers unexploded ordnance in Hostomel, Ukraine on April 18. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

A ceasefire in Ukraine is not on the horizon, but could come in the coming weeks depending on the continuation of the war and ongoing negotiations, according to Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

“Ceasefires… they’re not on the horizon right now, but they could be in a few weeks. They can be a little longer than that,” Griffiths said in remarks Monday to reporters at UN headquarters in New York.

Griffiths said he plans to travel to Turkey later this week to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to identify ways in which the UN can help support the peacekeeping process and negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. He added that he was “really impressed” by Turkey’s role in the conflict, calling the country “an important aspect” of the situation.

“We have to watch the talks very, very carefully, hence the trip to Turkey this week,” Griffiths said.

Griffiths said he also hopes Turkey can host a “humanitarian contact group” through which negotiations on humanitarian aid can be discussed. He said Ukrainian officials had already agreed and he hoped Russian officials would as well.

Griffiths added that Ukrainian officials have accepted most of the proposals made by the United Nations regarding humanitarian aid and ceasefires, but Russia has yet to give a similar response.

“Obviously, we haven’t implemented a humanitarian ceasefire yet. On the Russian side, I went into a lot of detail about it, and they kept promising to get back to me on the details of these proposals,” Griffiths said. “In Ukraine, it was a very welcome meeting with their leaders.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres accused Griffiths on March 28 of meeting with Ukrainian and Russian officials about arrangements for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine.

Griffiths said he recently met with Ukraine’s prime minister, two deputy prime ministers, Ukraine’s defense minister and deputy foreign minister for that reason. He previously said he met with Russian officials on April 4.

The objective of the discussions with both parties is to ensure that the authorities are aware of the UN’s aspirations for humanitarian assistance and to discuss ways in which the UN could improve its humanitarian notification system, a said Griffiths.

Griffiths said Ukrainian officials agreed with the idea of ​​a joint humanitarian contact group and with the idea of ​​local ceasefires with the aim of providing humanitarian aid, but said that the Russians “are not putting local ceasefires at the top of their agenda, yet”.

“On a humanitarian level, we need much more voluntary acceptance, primarily from the Russian Federation, to allow convoys in and out,” Griffiths said.

Asked if he thought Russia would implement a lasting ceasefire in good faith, Griffiths said he would continue to try to facilitate and mediate one. , despite the current lack of action by Russia.

“Hope is the currency of the mediator,” Griffiths said. “In all the wars I’ve had anything to do with, you always start, always from a hopeless base because it looks so dreadful, the atrocities are so terrible… you keep on going. do it, because frankly, what is the alternative? He added that “not continuing [negotiations]that would be irresponsible.