Ukrainian troops continue their onslaught on the rebel cities of Donetsk and Lugansk. Russia is working with the Red Cross to allow a convoy of humanitarian aid cross border into the battered regions.
EU is shocked with the kidnapping and killing of Lithuania’s honorary consul Nikolay Zelenec in Lugansk, EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
Ashton blamed illegal armed groups for the diplomat's death and called to bring the perpetrators to justice.
According to Ashton, the incident should become a wake-up call to stop the violence in eastern Ukraine and take all the necessary steps for de-escalation of the crisis.
Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Linas Linkevicius, reported on Zelenec’s murder on his Twitter account on Friday.
Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin described Friday’s UN Security Council meeting on Russian humanitarian convoy for eastern Ukraine as “the kingdom of crooked mirrors.”
“What happened at the UNSC meeting reminded me of the kingdom of crooked mirrors because some of the members were not interested in the fact that innocent people are dying in the east of Ukraine, they were not interested that there is a humanitarian catastrophe there, instead they were worried about the fact that Russia is providing humanitarian help to those who are being shot at,” Churkin said.
Churkin added that Russia is in contact with Ukrainian authorities and hopes that “there will be no problem with the humanitarian aid and its delivery.”
Churkin reminded all the members that Kiev itself agreed to allow the humanitarian aid through on August 12.
“As for the reproaches concerning respect of sovereignty, then, again, we received their formal consent, we have discussed this question with them, and if they decided to lie, it’s their problem. We want to help those in need,” said Churkin. “After some discussions, the situation regarding this topic has calmed down in the UNSC,” he said.
Ukrainian border officials are not in control of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles) of state border in eastern Ukraine, including the area around Izvarino, located in Lugansk region, Ukraine’s Deputy Head of the State Border Service of Ukraine, Pavel Shisholin, told the country’s Channel One.
Border guards patrolling near Izvarino left the area after 21 days of defense and blockade, Shisholin said, adding that 7 guards were injured, two of them critically.
Ukrainian army’s strikes hit and damaged residential buildings in Donetsk’s Petrovskiy district early on Saturday, killing at least one civilian, Interfax reported citing self-defense forces.
Kiev troops used rocket launcher Grad and mortars. Local market was set on fire during the attack.
Earlier, Ukraine's National Security Council spokesman, Andrey Lysenko, said Ukrainian army is carrying out assaults in Donetsk, Shakhtersk, Torez, and Zugres.
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said it is ready to help the people of Lugansk. “Our team in Lugansk says people need water, food, medicine,” ICRC wrote on its Twitter account. “We are ready to help Ukraine. We encourage both Ukraine and Russia to respect the neutral, impartial and independent humanitarian action of the ICRC.”
Earlier on Friday, the ICRC said it could not comply to the initial plan of escorting Russian convoy carrying humanitarian aid due to security concerns.
Russian journalists are calling on the Russian and Ukrainian authorities, as well as international organizations, to do everything possible to save Russian photo journalist, Andrey Stenin, who is missing in Ukraine.
“We are employees of various media outlets. We are all united by one thing: the concern over the fate of our colleague…” the statement published on the Russian Journalists’ Union website.
“Journalists’ work in war zones is always connected with danger. The presence of reporters can be a disadvantage for one side or the other, and sometimes both of them. Any correspondent from any country can end up in trouble,” the statement added.
The professional community shouldn’t keep silent in such cases, the statement says.
“We are urging everyone: the Andrey Stenin’s employers, the ministries and departments in Russia and Ukraine, the presidents of both countries, international civil rights organizations, journalists’ associations – everyone to put all possible efforts into finding and rescuing our colleague.”
Stenin hasn’t contacted anyone since August 5.
The Ukrainian army shells Lugansk every day. The city continues to withstand Kiev’s attacks in dire conditions without electricity, fresh water and phone networks, a situation that has persisted for the last three weeks, said the city council’s press service. “There’ve been no food, drugs and fuel supplies to the city for a long time. Citizens aren’t receiving salaries, pensions and welfare,” the press service added. People queue to buy the most necessary products. Garbage removal stopped weeks ago and the warm summer temperatures have put the city on the brink of an outbreak of infectious diseases. On Friday artillery strikes considerably damaged the infrastructure of the city’s football arena, Avangard. The city of Lugansk is waiting for a convoy with Russian humanitarian help, as a last resort to save its citizens.
About 60 KAMAZ trucks (approximately 20 percent of the total) from the Russian humanitarian convoy have crossed the Ukrainian border. The convoy has been greeted in Ukraine by several locals holding Russian flags, St.George’s ribbons and posters, saying: “Thank you!”, “Mother-Russia will not fail us!”, “Cannot kill us or force on our knees!”