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Russia blocks UN statement on Ukraine

January 25, 2015

A Western-backed UN Security Council statement condemning a shelling attack by separatists on Mariupol in Ukraine's southeast has been blocked by Russia. The attack killed at least 30 people and injured more than 90.

Beschuss von Mariupol in der Ostukraine 24.01.2015
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S.Vaganov

The United Nations draft statement called for "an immediate de-escalation of violence," employment of the September 5 truce between Kyiv and pro-Russian rebels and an "objective investigation" into the rocket attack which occurred on Saturday in the port-city of Mariupol in eastern Ukraine.

"This attack marks a significant and disturbing escalation in the level of violence in eastern Ukraine," the statement obtained by The Associated Press news agency said.

The text went on to read that rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko declared an attack against Mariupol "and condemned in the strongest terms such irresponsible announcements."

In response to the statement, Russia's UN mission said no agreement could be reached as Western diplomats have never been critical of statements or actions made by Kyiv.

Russia has veto power as a permanent member of the council, and said Britain's insistence that rebel "self-defense forces" were being backed by Moscow was their reason for not backing the document.

Security Council members are currently on a trip to the Caribbean nation of Haiti.

Mariupol shelled

At least 30 people were killed and more than 90 others injured on Saturday in a rocket attack on the port city of Mariupol, which is controlled by government troops.

The Kyiv government and the pro-Russia rebels have blamed the shelling on each other, but investigators from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), who rushed to the scene shortly afterwards, concluded that the attack had been launched from the east and northeast of the city - territory controlled by the separatists.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon denounced Saturday's attack on Mariupol, saying the "rockets appear to have been launched indiscriminately into civilian areas, which would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law," a statement issued by his spokesperson read.

He further condemned the separatist leadership's unilateral withdrawal from the truce and "their provocative statements about claiming further territory."

Rebel leader Zakharchenko, while denying that his forces were behind the civilian deaths in Mariupol, announced that the pro-Russia separatists did intend to seize control of the city.

"Today an offensive was launched on Mariupol. This will be the best possible monument to all our dead," Zakharchenko was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency at a memorial ceremony being held in the separatist stronghold of Donetsk.

jlw/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)