Ammunition was seen still lying on the ground after fighting in Aleksandrovka, Lugansk region, on Thursday.
The UN will publish its next human rights report on June 17. The paper will highlight the Odessa Trade Unions House fire, in which 48 anti-Kiev protestors died on May 2, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said during a briefing. The deadly fire in Odessa will also be the subject of another report that will be presented by Ivan Shimonovich, assistant to the UN’s secretary-general, at the end of June. Dujarric stressed that the UN is staying in contact with the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) because “if a chemical weapon was used, this is the main business for OPCW.”
A criminal case, on the use of prohibited means and methods of warfare in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions by the Ukrainian military, has been opened by Russia’s Investigative Committee.
The proceedings have been launched against as “yet unidentified servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, as well as members of the National Guard and Right Sector movement with regard to the shelling of Slavyansk, Kramatorsk, Donetsk, Mariupol and other settlements in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics,” Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Committee, told ITAR-TASS news agency.
Markin says the investigation believes Kiev violated the convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, signed in Geneva in 1949, by intentionally using weapons, artillery and aviation to kill civilians.
Russia has withdrawn the bulk of its troops from the Ukrainian border, though seven battalions, numbering in the thousands, remain in position, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Friday.
“The majority have gone,” Reuters cites him as telling reporters on the eve of a security conference in Singapore. “But seven battalions remain.” The official said he had no figure for the number of troops that had withdrawn. “But … thousands still remain,” he said.
Hagel called the withdrawal a promising sign, but said all troops positioned near the Ukrainian border earlier this year need to be pulled back.
The Interior Ministry of Ukraine has asked the self-declared People’s Republic of Lugansk to enter into negotiations, “the people’s governor” Valery Bolotov said on Friday, Ria Novosti reports. Bolotov replied he was only prepared to enter talks on condition that all Ukrainian military forces leave the Luhansk region. He added that in the event of talks, a third party should be invited to the negotiating table.
“Most likely, it will be Russia,” he said.
— Bystrova Natali (@BystrovaNatali) May 30, 2014
Seven children were hurt as the Ukrainian military shelled the city of Slavyansk, a stronghold of the protesters, in the country’s South East on Friday night, Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s ombudsman for children’s rights, said.
A local children’s hospital came under fire as Kiev’s troops renewed the shelling of Slavyansk on Friday morning
Ukraine claimed it had regained control of swathes of the separatist east on Friday even as Washington expressed concern over the appearance of fighters from Russia’s war-ravaged region of Chechnya among the insurgents.
The rebels for their part dismissed speculation of a rift in their ranks after a dozen local militants were evicted from their seat of power in Donetsk by a military brigade comprised largely of Chechens and other Russians from the volatile North Caucasus.
But the recent appearance among the separatists of trained gunmen from Chechnya — a mostly Muslim region that fell under Kremlin control following two post-Soviet wars for independence — has fuelled fears of the conflict being transformed into a proxy war involving elements from other unstable regions of the former Soviet Union.
Ukraine’s acting defence minister said his forces were in high spirits despite the downing of a military helicopter on Thursday by the rebels that killed 11 soldiers and a general.
RT – RIA Novosti – Moscow Times – UNIAN