The UN Security Council held an emergency session on the Ukraine crisis as Kiev vowed to launch an military operation after pro-Russian forces seized government buildings in the east.
Nigerian Ambassador Joy Ogwu, whose country holds the rotating council presidency, opened the public meeting shortly after 8:00 pm (0001 GMT Monday) that was requested by Russia.
It is the 10th time that the Security Council has met on Ukraine since pro-Western leaders rose to power in Kiev in February on the back of bloody protests against the old regime’s decision to reject an EU alliance and turns toward Moscow.
On the way into the meeting, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said he was very concerned about threats from Kiev to use military force against pro-Russian separatists.
UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Oscar Fernandez Taranco said at least one Ukrainian officer had been killed in a gun battle and numerous other people had been reported injured during skirmishes in eastern Ukraine.
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During the last 24 hours, he said, at least five new cities in the region had been targeted by uprisings and seizures of government buildings.
“The situation is therefore now more combustible than ever,” Fernandez Taranco said, warning against a spillover of “potentially severe consequences.”
Ukraine’s acting president Oleksandr Turchynov declared the launch of a “full-scale anti-terrorist operation” just a day after masked gunmen stormed police and security service buildings.
The Russian foreign ministry accused Ukraine’s leaders of “waging war against their own people” and demanded that the UN Security Council immediately address Kiev’s use of force.
The US ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, said the coordinated raids bore “tell-tale signs of Moscow’s involvement.”
The attacks were especially unsettling for both Kiev and Western leaders because of their remarkable similarity to events leading up to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.