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Kiev's ‘indiscriminate shelling of residential areas’ must be stopped – Russia

Published time: June 03, 2014 01:23
Edited time: June 03, 2014 08:18

Vitaly Churkin, Russia's Ambassador to the United Nations (AFP Photo / Stan Honda)

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The humanitarian situation in Ukraine needs to be addressed immediately, without the usual “theoretical exercises" from the UN Security Council’s “usual suspects," ambassador Vitaly Churkin said after a closed-door meeting on a Russian draft resolution.

Ongoing operation: 8 die in admin HQ blast as fighter jets deployed to Ukraine’s Lugansk

“The draft is not politicized and is of a purely humanitarian nature,” Churkin told reporters in New York, stressing that the document is aimed at “alleviating human suffering.”

“Every day civilians get killed, among them women and children,” Churkin said. “Ukrainian military and paramilitary forces impede the peaceful population, leaving besieged cities or sending their children to safe places. Buses of children are turned back.”

A swift reaction is absolutely necessary, Churkin said, as Kiev continues its full scale military operation in southeastern Ukraine with “heavy and indiscriminate shelling of residential areas” using both artillery and aviation.

Just on Tuesday alone, at least five civilians were killed in a Ukrainian air raid on a local administrative building in Lugansk, the aftermath of which was shown in numerous horrific videos posted online. [WARNING: EXTREMELY GRAPHIC AND SHOCKING] Yet authorities and pro-Kiev media deny the incident, even claiming that self-defense forces were behind the attack on their own headquarters.

Churkin said the new draft demands “an immediate cessation of hostilities, urges parties to commit themselves to sustainable ceasefire, and calls for the establishment by the parties of humanitarian corridors in order to allow the civilian population to leave safely and to ensure humanitarian assistance.”

Firefighters put out fire that broke out in the building of Lugansk regional administration after the air attack by Ukrainian air force. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov)

The draft emphasizes the Geneva statement of April 17, which urges all parties in Ukraine to refrain from “violence, intimidation, or provocative actions,” as well as OSCE roadmap for Ukraine that stresses a need for dialogue and calls for a ceasefire and de-escalation of tensions.

Churkin said the draft was submitted because “we believe for the situation in Ukraine not to deteriorate further, something needs to be done now in order to stop the violence.”

He cited the joint statement by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which expressed “extreme concern about the humanitarian situation resulting from the current crisis in southeastern Ukraine” and called on everyone to allow Red Cross workers and volunteers to perform their humanitarian duties.

‘Usual suspects’ see no humanitarian crisis

Yet some of the council’s members seemed to be deliberately trying to stall any real action, he added.

The “usual suspects” in the Security Council are “showing no urgency” when it comes to dealing with the escalation of the Ukrainian conflict, Churkin said.

The Russian envoy said that while the Ukraine crisis was developing, “every time there was procrastination, every time there was a delay of stopping and preventing” further escalation of the conflict. Instead, Churkin said the West often views Ukraine's turmoil as a “theoretical exercise.”

“How come we talk all the time, as you know, theoretically about the need of preventing diplomacy, about the need to stop conflict, and then some colleagues sit in the Council and sort of shake their heads and say, 'Well, maybe they are doing the right thing, this military thing, they have the right to do that.' Looking for various legal frames for this kind of an attitude is wrong. It is our duty to stop the conflict as quickly as possible, to try to stop violence as quickly as possible,” he said.

A member of the local self-defense forces covers the body of a person killed during the air attack on the building of Lugansk regional administration by Ukrainian air force. (RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov)

One of the apparent suspects – the US State Department – has called the Russian draft resolution “hypocritical,” blaming Moscow for instigating the unrest in Ukraine.

“It is hypocritical of the Russian leadership to call for an end to violence and the creation of humanitarian corridors when, at the same time, armed irregular forces are entering Ukraine from Russia, weapons are being brought illegally from Russia into Ukraine, Russian-backed separatists are attacking new targets and holding OSCE monitoring teams hostage, and Russia is doing nothing to stop these activities. So if they are going to call for or would support a reduction in tensions and a de-escalation, it would be more effective for them to end those activities,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a daily press briefing.

When confronted by AP reporter Matthew Lee about photographic evidence of “severe destruction and civilian – at least what appear to be – civilian deaths,” Psaki replied that she stands by previous statements that the US has no concerns about Kiev's military actions in southeastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Churkin said that some of the 15 members of the Security Council do support Russia's initiative.

“There were some positive reactions from some members of the Council. However, others were asking so many questions that if we were to try to answer them then we would be talking about things for weeks,” he said, adding that “We have not yet decided what out next move is going to be in terms of working on this resolution.”

British Ambassador to the UN Mark Lyall Grant and his French counterpart, Gerard Araud, claimed there are key elements missing from the new draft.

“We must be clear that the crisis in Ukraine is a political security crisis. It's not a humanitarian crisis,” Lyall Grant told reporters.

“There were things missing like the reference to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine for instance, the right of Ukraine to defend its territorial integrity,” said Araud, adding that a UN report on the situation is needed because he is unaware that there is a “major crisis” in Ukraine.

Earlier on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that despite Western assurance that Ukraine's turmoil will be reversed after its May 25 presidential election, “everything is happening in exactly the opposite way.”