World powers trade blame as Ukraine deadline passes

People in eastern Ukraine are waiting to see if action will be taken against pro-Russian militants occupying government buildings in the region.

World powers trade blame as Ukraine deadline passes

People in eastern Ukraine are waiting to see if action will be taken against pro-Russian militants occupying government buildings in the region.

A deadline to end their action passed at 7am Irish time this morning, and Ukraine's acting president had promised a "full-scale anti-terrorist operation" if they didn't leave.

At a UN Security Council meeting overnight, Russia was accused of artificially creating the crisis, but Moscow called on Ukraine to start "genuine dialogue" over the issue.

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 uprising.

Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin denied Western and Ukrainian claims that Moscow was behind the violence and told UN diplomats that Ukraine had been using radical neo-Nazi forces to destabilise 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.”

US 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,” she said.

“These are not protests, these are professional military operations.”

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.

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