Ban Ki-moon United nations.jpg
Photograph: EPA/JUSTIN LANE

Ukraine slammed UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday after a statement prepared to be delivered by Ban referred to Russia as having a "critical role" in resolving the crisis in Ukraine and protecting human rights.

Volodomyr Yelchenko, Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, told reporters in New York that he was "outraged" by the text sent out by the UN chief's office early Thursday morning because it seemed to suggest that Russia could play a positive role in the conflict.

"I don't understand how the head of the United Nations can say such things, which sort of pave the road of the Russian Federation in settling the conflict in Ukraine when the Russian Federation is the main player ... in keeping this conflict boiling," Yelchenko said.

The text, marked "as prepared," was sent out after Ban had spoken at the opening of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum on Thursday calling for Russia's leadership in global development.

"The Russian Federation, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, 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 text said.

Yelchenko said Russia was trampling on human rights in Crimea and was also allegedly in the process of building up the nuclear potential on the annexed peninsula, which runs counter to Ban's call for disarmament.

He noted that he was writing a letter to protest the remarks and request an explanation.

"[Ban] cannot be a provider of good offices in whatever is concerning Ukraine," the ambassador said. "I don't think that he has any moral right anymore to say anything about the conflict between Russia and Ukraine."

Later on Thursday, Ban's office issued an update with the verbatim transcript of the speech, which did not include the controversial paragraph.

Ban only said that Russia "has a very important role to play," adding "I really count heavily on the leadership of the Russian Federation."

The UN chief's office clarified that the first version of the speech was sent out by mistake.

The Ukrainian mission to the UN said in response to the update that it had already sent a letter of complaint to Ban and was awaiting an explanation.

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