Churkin: Thousands of deaths and a million homeless could have been avoided in Ukraine

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The result of the postponed Ukraine EU association agreement has been “thousands of lives lost and almost a million left homeless,” Russia’s ambassador to the UN, Vitaly Churkin said. He also said that warnings from Russia almost a year ago were ignored.

Churkin said at the very start of the conflict that Russia had warned that all parties needed to be included in talks and the rights of all had to be respected, no matter which region they came from. With his pleas not heeded, a vast humanitarian catastrophe has taken place in the eastern part of Ukraine.

“What do we have today? Today Kiev and Brussels have returned to the position, which they needed to start with: suspend the association talks with the EU, which is exactly what the toppled President Viktor Yanokovich wanted,” said Russia’s Ambassador to the UN. “Due to a year of decisions, thousands of people have died, almost a million have been left homeless, a civil war and the destruction of the economy,” said the diplomat, speaking to the ITAR-TASS news agency.

On October 21, Human Rights Watch admitted that Kiev was guilty of breaking international law through the “widespread use of cluster munitions” in fighting between government troops and self-defense forces, according to an investigation carried by the watchdog

A burned plane at Donetsk airport. (RIA Novosti / Gennady Dubovoy)

A burned plane at Donetsk airport. (RIA Novosti / Gennady Dubovoy)

“While it was not possible to conclusively determine responsibility for many of the attacks, the evidence points to Ukrainian government forces’ responsibility for several cluster munitions attacks on Donetsk [Donetsk Region, Eastern Ukraine],” says the report.

The accusation was flatly denied by Kiev, with Andrey Lysenko, who is a spokesman for Ukraine’s National Security Council saying on October 22 that “Ukrainian military did not use weapons forbidden by international law. This also applies to cluster munitions.”

Churkin was also skeptical of political developments to try and improve the situation in Ukraine. He pointed out that decisions made at a meeting on April 17, between Russia, the USA, Ukraine and the EU had not been implemented. “Nothing has changed under the old or new Ukrainian elite. There has been no dialogue and there have been no constitutional reforms.”

Russia’s ambassador to the UN feels sorry for those in Ukraine who wanted the “civilized development of their country.” Parliamentary elections take place on October 26, While Churkin believes that campaigning has been mired by cynicism and underhand tactics.

A part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk, on August 2, 2014. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

A part of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 at the crash site in the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), some 80km east of Donetsk, on August 2, 2014. (AFP Photo / Bulent Kilic)

“The political field has been defending itself from opponents both literally and in reality. There has been a cleansing of officials (with links to Yanokovich) and a witch hunt,” he added.

Speaking at the UN Security Council, Churkin says that more must be done to make Kiev accountable for horrendous acts of abduction and murder by Ukraine’s military and private security forces.

He also wants an investigation to take place into the use of prohibited weapons such as cluster bombs and phosphorous bombs, as well as tactical missiles, which were fired indiscriminately into residential areas.

Churkin has also called for greater transparency into the state of the investigation into the downing of flight MH17 on July 17.

“It probably wasn’t an accident that the crash site took incoming fire from the Ukrainian positions, just as it was about to be visited by a group of Dutch experts and OSCE observers. We consider it irresponsible that one of the statements today reiterated an unsupported version of the events,” the Russian diplomat added.

He concluded by saying that he could not understand why some members of the UN Security Council had become nervous about Russian proposals to expand and deepen the investigation in to why the airliner crashed.

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