Putin calls for summit of key UN Security Council members

Jerusalem (AFP) –


Russian President Vladimir Putin called Thursday for a summit of leaders of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, to "defend peace" in the face of global instability.

His call came as Russia promotes itself as a global powerbroker, playing a decisive role in crises in the Middle East, Libya and Ukraine.

Putin said the leaders of Russia, China, the United States, France and Britain could meet "in any place in the world".

Speaking in Jerusalem at an event marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Putin argued that the countries that created a new global order after World War II should cooperate to solve today's problems.

"The founder countries of the United Nations, the five states that hold special responsibility to save civilisation, can and must be an example," he said at the sombre memorial ceremony.

The meeting would "play a great role in searching for collective answers to modern challenges and threats," Putin said, adding that Russia was "ready for such a serious conversation."

Putin suggested war-torn Libya could be on the agenda, following recent peace talks in Moscow and Berlin.

- 'Positive reaction' -

Putin said Moscow had proposed the summit to "several of our colleagues and as far as I understand, saw a positive reaction".

Russia has increasingly close ties with China, whose President Xi Jinping last year called Putin his "best friend", while French President Emmanuel Macron has made a point of cultivating Russia.

While relations between the US and Russia have plunged to post-Cold War lows, President Donald Trump has praised Putin. The Russian leader has also criticised moves to impeach his counterpart.

There are varying accounts of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's first official meeting with Putin, on the sidelines of Libya talks in Berlin at the weekend.

Downing Street said Johnson delivered a stern warning that Russia must never repeat its chemical attack on British soil against former double agent Sergei Skripal, but the Kremlin said the talks were constructive, even conciliatory in tone.

- 'Frightening consequences' -

Putin was one of dozens of world leaders in Jerusalem to mark the liberation 75 years ago of the World War II death camp where the Nazis killed more than 1.1 million people, most of them Jews.

Soviet troops liberated the death camp.

Russia will hold large-scale celebrations in May to mark 75 years since the allied victory in World War II, with numerous world leaders invited.

"Forgetting the past, and disunity in the face of threats, can lead to frightening consequences," Putin said.

Countries must "do everything to protect and defend peace," he added.

Putin's proposal comes despite Russia being expelled from the G8 group of industrialised countries after seizing Crimea from neighbouring Ukraine in 2014.

Russia is also subject to numerous European and US sanctions because of the conflict in Ukraine.

Moscow denies accusations by Kiev and its Western allies that it provides weapons to separatists fighting in the east.