UN chief in Ukraine to meet Zelensky: spokesman

UN chief Antonio Guterres arrived in war-torn Ukraine Tuesday to meet with President Volodymyr Zelensky, in his third trip since Russia's full-scale invasion, the United Nations announced.

Guterres "is currently in Ukraine," his deputy spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters, after UN officials had said the secretary-general had arrived in Poland en route to Kyiv.

Guterres was due to arrive in the capital later Tuesday before meeting with Zelensky Wednesday morning, according to his office. He is due to depart Ukraine that day and be back at United Nations headquarters in New York on Thursday.

"We'll give you details of the discussions he has with the president of Ukraine once those have happened," Haq said, adding that "there's no visit to Moscow planned" after the Kyiv stop.

The leader of the global body will meet Zelensky "to discuss the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative (grain export scheme) in all its aspects, as well as other pertinent issues."

No further substantive information was provided about the visit, the third by Guterres after trips to Ukraine in April and August last year following Russia's invasion on February 24, 2022.

At a UN Security Council meeting held on the anniversary of the start of the war, Guterres slammed the invasion is a "blatant violation" of the UN Charter and international law.

"It has unleashed widespread death, destruction and displacement," he told the 15-member council, which includes permanent member Russia, saying life was "a living hell for the people of Ukraine."

Guterres has emphasized the human toll of the war, saying more than eight million Ukrainians have fled to other parts of Europe, and another 5.4 million are internally displaced.

Half of Ukrainian children have been forced from their homes, and face higher risks of violence, abuse and exploitation, he told the Security Council last month.

The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in late February to demand Russia withdraw its troops from Ukraine.

But the Security Council meeting on the anniversary was largely symbolic.

The UN's most powerful body has met 40 times over the past year on the Ukraine war but has achieved little binding action due to Russia's wielding of its veto power.

Over the past year, Guterres has regularly offered to act as mediator between Kyiv and Moscow should the two sides want to start a dialogue.

During his first visit to Ukraine after Russia invaded, Guterres called war "an absurdity in (the) 21st century."

That trip, during which he also met with Zelensky, was marred by a Russian air strike on Kyiv that left a journalist dead. The visit had followed talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Guterres's trip in August focused on unblocking grain exports.

The Black Sea Grain Initiative was brokered by the United Nations with Turkey last July and has helped reduce spiraling food prices that contributed to hunger in the developing world. The deal is set to expire this month.

Kyiv has seen a string of high-profile visits from Western leaders in the past year.

President Joe Biden of the United States, a key Ukraine backer, made the journey last month.