Friday, 22 February, 2019

USA blames Moscow for fresh fighting in east Ukraine

Melinda Barton | 03 February, 2017, 01:42

On Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called on Russian Federation to use its "considerable influence" with separatist rebels to end the violence, which brought the festering conflict back into focus amid warnings of a looming humanitarian crisis in freezing winter temperatures.

Shelling over the weekend damaged water, heating and power supply to government-controlled factory town of Avdiivka, the epicenter of fighting, amid a strong cold snap. "Shelling continues", he said on Facebook, blaming Russia-backed rebels. The separatists said one of their fighters was killed.

Two Ukrainian troops have been killed in the country's industrial east as both government forces and rebels reported shelling on their positions overnight, Ukraine's government said early Thursday.

Earlier the International Committee of the Red Cross in Ukraine called for all sides to hold fire to allow the emergency fix work to be carried out on damaged utilities infrastructure.

"Moscow was putting Avdiyivka on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe", Poroshenko's statement said.

A Reuters witness in Avdiyivka said the intermittent boom of artillery fire could be heard in the distance throughout the day.

Thirteen Ukrainian servicemen have been killed and around 30 wounded since Sunday, according to the military's press service in Kiev.

UNITED NATIONS U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, blamed Russian Federation on Thursday for the recent surge of violence in eastern Ukraine and warned Ukraine-related sanctions against Russian Federation will not be lifted until Moscow returns Crimea to Kiev.

Moscow denies accusations from Kiev and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation that it supports the separatists with troops and weapons.

The new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations used her inaugural statement to the global body to condemn Russian aggression in Ukraine. Trump has praised Russia's President Vladimir Putin and expressed a wish for improved relations between the two countries.

The remarks may help silence critics of President Trump who have feared he's too in sync with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Close to 10,000 have since been killed.