(dpa) - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met with Russia's top leaders on Wednesday in his first visit to Russia, one of the five veto powers on the UN Security Council.
At the start of a three-day visit, Ban was welcomed by President Vladimir Putin and his elected successor Dmitry Medvedev who stressed the UN's importance for Russia's foreign policy and its aim to promote a multipolar worldview.
"The UN is the only universal international organization," Putin was quoted by news agency Interfax as saying Wednesday. "It is a key element of the whole system of international relations."
Putin stressed that Russia's role in the creation of the organization and added that "it is also its most active participant."
While Russia backed Ban to head the Security Council two years ago, Moscow has reacted sourly to his stance toward Kosovo and resents what it views as unbalanced US influence on the international organization.
Ahead of talks with Ban Wednesday, Medvedev reiterated Russia's view that "any attempts to solve the international problems in violation of UN resolutions, as was in case with Kosovo ... are counterproductive."
In an apparent reference to US unilateral engagement in Iraq, Medvedev added that "any action to resolve international problems without UN involvement and in breach of UN resolutions is unacceptable," news agency Interfax reported.
Russia, newly assertive in world politics and buoyed by high oil profits, has looked to increase its weight through international institutions such as the UN in an effort to balance against US hegemony.
Observer said Wednesday that Russia was irritated by Ban's pro-US comments in February when he endorsed US international leadership, saying "the UN has no better friend than the US" on a visit to the state of Texas.
Medvedev greeted Ban on Wednesday borrowing the UN leaders own line: "No country in the world can unilaterally resolve the world's problems."
"Russia will always support the United Nations," Medvedev added.
According to the business newspaper, Kommersant, Medvedev will discuss the possibility of increasing Russia's annual contribution in an effort to match the United State's annual UN budget of about 500 million dollars.
Ban is to meet with Russia Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Thursday as well as Moscow Patriarch Alexei II and other civil leaders.
Since becoming secretary general in January 2007, Ban has visited Washington, Paris and London, but not Moscow or Beijing. All five are the capitals of the UN council's permanent members, who hold veto power over UN activities and programmes.