Russia Fighting ِِAggressive War Against Ukraine

Address by His Excellency Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine

Address by His Excellency Petro Poroshenko, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko. UN Photo/Cia Pak

Russia has been accused by the President of Ukraine of fighting an “aggressive war” against his country.

The UN has said that around 8,000 people have been killed in the eastern European country as a result of a conflict between government forces and rebels.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine began in April of last year.

Ukraine has said there is clear evidence that rebels have been supported by the Russian military, an accusation that the Russian government denies.

But, speaking in the UN General Assembly (on Tuesday), the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said Russia had been misleading the international community about its actions in the east of his country.

“Despite the fact that until now Russian has refused to admit its direct military invasion, today there is no doubt that this is an aggressive war against my country, against Ukraine. To mislead the world community, the Russian leadership orders to take off the insignias of its military servicemen and the identification marks of its military equipment.”

An agreement was brokered last February to establish a ceasefire, the so-called Minsk agreements.

On the other hand, the people in eastern Ukraine face a humanitarian catastrophe in coming months if armed groups continue to refuse access to aid agencies, the UN warned on Tuesday.

Ivan Simonovic, the Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, said that it was of the “utmost concern” that humanitarian assistance was being used as “a new tool of warfare” by insurgents.

At the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Simonovic said that more than 8,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of hostilities in April 2014 between government forces and armed groups, with over 1.5 million people internally displaced.

Daniel Johnson has more.

After giving an update to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on the situation in Ukraine, Ivan Simonovic said that “kicking out” the UN from the east of the country had been a “great mistake”.

With winter just round the corner, people are unprepared for the cold, the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights warned.

He said that communities urgently needed everything from polio vaccines to windows for their homes.

These were available but no longer allowed into parts of the east of the country after armed groups decided to politicise the supply of humanitarian assistance, Simonovic said.

Just as dangerous is the fact that once the aid supply is cut, it could take up to three months to get it up and running again, he added.

“I think that kicking out UN as well as other humanitarian workers is a great mistake…Once that pipeline is put out of order it cannot start working right the next day; it takes time to repair it.”

After nearly 18 months of conflict, Ivan Simonovic said that all that matters to people in Ukraine is an end to the hostilities.

With a ceasefire currently holding, the UN official called on all sides in the conflict to implement confidence-building measures as set out in the Minsk peace accord that was signed in February.

Daniel Dickinson reports.

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