The U.N. Security Council met late Sunday in emergency session amid growing violence in eastern Ukraine, with Western powers and Russia blaming each other for the deepening crisis.
Russia called the meeting hours after Ukrainian special forces exchanged gunfire with a pro-Russia militia in an eastern city, and at least one security officer was killed and five others wounded. Ukraine’s president accused its powerful neighbour of fomenting unrest, and announced that it would deploy armed forces to quash an increasingly bold pro-Russian insurgency.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin denied Western and Ukrainian claims that Moscow was behind the violence, and told U.N. diplomats that Ukraine has been using radical neo-Nazi forces to destabilize its eastern region.
“It is the West that will determine the opportunity to avoid civil war in Ukraine. Some people, including in this chamber, do not want to see the real reasons for what is happening in Ukraine and are constantly seeing the hand of Moscow in what is going on,” Mr. Churkin said. “Enough. That is enough.”
U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said the protesters in eastern Ukraine were well-organised and had military equipment, and accused Russia of spreading fiction.
“The lives of innocent civilians are at risk. Yet we are being bombarded by Russian disinformation and propaganda while the Ukrainians are being confronted by incitement and violence,” Ms. Power said.
“These are not protests, these are professional military operations,” she added.
Russia has tens of thousands of troops massed along Ukraine’s eastern border, and there are fears that Moscow might use the violence in the mainly Russian-speaking region as a pretext for an invasion, in a repeat of events in Crimea earlier this year.