KYIV, Ukraine — UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres announced his arrival in Kyiv on Wednesday following talks in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“I have arrived in Ukraine after visiting Moscow,” he wrote on his official Twitter account as he landed ahead of talks with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“We will continue our work to expand humanitarian support and secure the evacuation of civilians from conflict zones. The sooner this war ends, the better — for the sake of Ukraine, Russia and the world,” Guterres tweeted.
At the Moscow talks on Tuesday, Guterres repeated calls for both Russia and Ukraine to work together to set up “safe and effective” humanitarian corridors in war-torn Ukraine. In turn, Putin told him he hoped that negotiations could end the conflict which saw Russian troops invading Ukraine on February 24.
“Despite the fact that the military operation is ongoing, we still hope that we will be able to reach agreements on the diplomatic track,” the Russian leader said in televised remarks.
Talks had been taking place in Turkey but stalled after the discovery of civilian bodies in areas near Kyiv previously occupied by Russian forces.
Ukraine Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said Kyiv faced “extremely difficult weeks” ahead, warning of major “destruction” in a developing Russian offensive in the east of the country.
“Some extremely difficult weeks lie ahead,” Reznikov said in a statement on Facebook on Wednesday. “Russia has already gathered forces for a large-scale offensive in eastern Ukraine,” he added, saying Moscow “will try to inflict as much pain as possible” and warned of “destruction and painful casualties.”
“In the coming days we will need all our resilience and extraordinary unity,” Reznikov told Ukrainians. He added that the coming events would “determine the future of our state.”
Russia has pressed on with its invasion of Ukraine, re-focusing on the east and south of the country as the war enters its third month.
Kyiv conceded that Russian forces had made gains in the east, with Moscow’s forces capturing a string of villages in the Donbas region.
Meanwhile, the interior ministry of Transnistria, a Moscow-backed separatist region of Moldova bordering Ukraine, said Wednesday that shots were fired at a village housing a Russian arms depot after drones flew over from Ukraine.
This came after the unrecognized region reported a series of explosions that it called “terrorist attacks,” raising fears of a spillover from the war in Ukraine.
“Last night, several drones were noticed in the sky over the village of Kolbasna,” the Transnistrian interior ministry said on its website. “The drones were launched onto the territory of Transnistria from Ukraine,” it said.
Kolbasna, known as Cobasna in Romanian, is located around 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) from the Ukrainian border. It houses a stockpile of some 20,000 tons of munitions that date back to the Soviet era, guarded by Russian troops. The interior ministry said that it is believed to be the largest ammunition depot in Europe.
“On the morning of April 27 at 8:45 am (0545 GMT) shots were fired from the Ukrainian side towards Kolbasna,” the Transnistrian ministry added, saying that there were no reported injuries.
The region has reported explosions on Monday and Tuesday hitting the security ministry, a military unit and a Russian-owned radio tower. This prompted Moldova to urge its citizens to keep calm and step up security measures.
Moldova’s Foreign Minister Nicu Popescu said Transnistria had announced men of fighting age would be prevented “from leaving the region so this is a sign we are not yet out of the potential danger zone.”
“Our primary duty is to maintain peace in Moldova. Moldova should not be drawn in any type of military scenario in this region,” said Popescu. “We remain very alert. We are not in a position to predict how things will evolve. We will do everything to keep Moldova out of any military escalation on this regional scale.”