Moscow has 'lost influence' over Ukraine rebels

2014-05-03 13:03
 Pro-Russian activists guard a barricade set at the Donetsk regional council office building on the eastern city of Donetsk. (Alexander Khudoteply, AFP)

Pro-Russian activists guard a barricade set at the Donetsk regional council office building on the eastern city of Donetsk. (Alexander Khudoteply, AFP)

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Moscow - Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesperson said on Saturday that the Kremlin no longer had any influence over rebels in the east of the ex-Soviet country.

"From now on Russia essentially has lost its influence over these people because it will be impossible to convince them to lay down arms when there's a direct threat to their lives," he said.

Peskov added that "speaking about elections is absurd to say the least".

Asked how Russia would respond to the escalating crisis, Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies: "I cannot answer this question; it's an absolutely new element for us."

The UN Security Council on Friday for the 13th time failed to take action on the growing crisis in Ukraine, with Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin demanding a "swift halt of all violence" and Western powers scoffing at his country's indignation.

Council 'impotence'

Council members accused Russia of equipping and funding the pro-Russia forces that have seized government buildings in 10 eastern cities. Ukraine on Friday launched its first major offensive against the insurgency.

"Russia... has released bands of thugs on Ukraine... and is suddenly discovering this mixture might escape its control," French ambassador Gerard Araud said.

The council so far has been unable to agree on any action on Ukraine, as Russia holds veto power as a permanent council member. The 193-nation General Assembly weeks ago affirmed Ukraine's territorial integrity in a surprisingly strong but nonbinding vote, showing Russia's isolated stance.

Frustration soared on Friday, and Araud despaired at the council's "impotence".

"Peaceful protesters do not use grenade launchers," Lithuania's ambassador, Raimonda Murmokaite, said tartly. "They do not kidnap and shamelessly parade international observers."

In Washington, US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel threatened tougher new sanctions against Russia if Moscow doesn't quickly change its disruptive behaviour.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement through his spokesman expressing "grave concern" and urging both a diplomatic solution and a release of the OSCE monitors.

UN political chief Jeffrey Feltman will visit Kiev and Moscow next week to urge "restraint and an immediate return to dialogue".
Read more on:    un  |  us  |  russia  |  ukraine
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