Ukraine crisis: UN holds emergency security council meeting
The UN security council is holding an emergency meeting in New York at Russia’s request as the crisis in eastern Ukraine escalates amid growing violence.
Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin called the meeting for Sunday night after becoming alarmed at Ukraine’s announcement that it would deploy armed forces to quash an increasingly bold pro-Russian insurgency.
“There has already been bloodshed and a further escalation must be swiftly stopped,” Churkin told the council. “The international community must ask Kiev to stop and implement all its commitments.”
But the British ambassador to the UN, Lyall Grant, told the meeting that Russia has amassed tens of thousands of well-equipped troops near the Ukrainian border in addition to the 25,000 troops it recently moved into Crimea.
“Satellite images show that there are between 35,000 and 40,000 Russian troops in the vicinity of the border with Ukraine equipped with combat aircraft, tanks, artillery and logistical support units,” Grant said.
“This is in addition to the 25,000 Russia troops based illegally in Crimea,” Grant added in his speech during the emergency meeting.
“We want to use this Security Council meeting to expose that but also warn Russia against using events in eastern Ukraine as a pretext for further military escalation in the region,” Lyall Grant said.
Ukrainian special forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russia militia in the eastern city of Slaviansk on Sunday morning, with at least one security officer killed and five others wounded.
The operations came after heavily armed pro-Russian activists dressed in military-style combat gear on Saturday seized government buildings and set up roadblocks in the town about 150 km (90 miles) from the Russian border. Similar operations followed in several other towns in eastern Ukraine.
The US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said earlier on Sunday that the unrest was following the same pattern of events as inCrimea, where unidentified forces took over government installationsbefore the peninsula was effectively annexed by Russia last month.
“It’s professional, it’s co-ordinated, there is nothing grass-roots-seeming about it,” Power said. “The forces are doing, in each of the six or seven cities they’ve been active in, exactly the same thing.
Washington and Moscow have maintained regular dialogue throughout the crisis and on Saturday John Kerry, the US secretary of state, spoke by telephone to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.
But on Sunday night the US state department released a statement saying that the pro-Russian operations over the weekend were highly organised and “planned in advance” with militants “outfitted in bullet-proof vests and camouflage uniforms with insignia removed and carrying Russian-origin weapons”.
The actions were “inconsistent with political, grassroots protests” and that the Ukrainian government had evidence that Russian intelligence officers were directly involved in orchestrating the activities.
(Posted on: The Guardian)