War in Ukraine Ramps Up
NEW YORK – INTERNATIONAL – Intense fighting, including the use of heavy weaponry by both sides, in densely populated areas of eastern Ukraine, has increased the loss of civilian life, with an average of around 36 people being killed every day, says a new report issued today by the United Nations human rights office.
The report, produced by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and covers the period from 16 July to 17 August, expresses dismay at the killing and wounding of civilians who are trapped in urban areas or attempting to flee the fighting in eastern Ukraine using “safe” corridors established by the Government.
Russia is at war with Ukraine and so effectively at war with Europe, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said on Saturday, calling on Europe to supply Kiev with military equipment.
“It is the fact that Russia is in a war state against Ukraine. That means it is in a state of war against a country which would like to be closely integrated with the EU. Practically Russia is in a state of war against Europe,” President Grybauskaite told reporters in English as she arrived for an EU summit.
Grybauskaite added “That an arms embargo on Russia should be stepped up by including a halt to sales under existing contracts – a swipe notably at France, which has resisted calls to cancel a deal to sell Moscow a strategic new warship”.
“Deliberate targeting of civilians is a violation of international humanitarian law, and more must be done to protect them,” said High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. “All those involved in the hostilities in the affected areas of the east must at all times comply with the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. This is particularly important in densely populated areas.”
“There is an urgent need to end the fighting and violence in the eastern regions, before more civilians are harmed or forced to flee, or face intolerable hardships trapped inside the conflict zones,” she added in a news release.
The report, the fifth to be produced on the human rights situation since the outset of violence in Ukraine, documents a wide array of serious abuses committed primarily by the armed groups who have seized control over a large part of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the country’s east since mid-April.
It also documents violations committed by Ukrainian forces in their efforts to recapture territory, from which armed groups are conducting operations and in which they have located military objectives.
Yesterday Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced his alarm at what seems to be a “dangerous escalation” in the crisis in Ukraine with reports of intensified fighting in the country south-east near the border with Russia. According to UN estimates, at least 2,593 people have been killed in Ukraine between mid-April and 27 August 2014.
Close to Point of No Return – EU
Fighting has intensified in eastern Ukraine between government forces and pro-Russian separatists, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko arrived in Brussels Saturday in a bid for Europe’s support.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso warns Russia against escalating the crisis. “We are in a very serious, I would say dramatic situation. We may see a situation where we reach the point of no return,” stated Barroso.
The European Commission President told reporters that “The EU is prepared to toughen sanctions against Russia, but hopes for a political deal to end the confrontation”.
Ukraine President Poroshenko states, “I am proud that we survived a generation without the war and I hate the idea that we return to this situation.”
President Poroshenko says he expects to see progress toward peace in the coming days.
On Friday, NATO condemned Russia for sending troops and equipment illegally across the Ukraine border.
FILES: DAILY MOTION / REUTERS / UNITED NATIONS