An armed man gestures from a barricade in front of the police headquarters in Slaviansk April 12, 2014.
Gleb Garanich/Reuters

U.N. holds urgent meeting on Ukraine as tensions escalate

Updated

The U.N. Security Council met Sunday night to discuss the situation in Ukraine, amid escalating tensions over the seizure of government buildings by pro-Russian forces in the country’s East.

Western forces and Ukraine condemned Russia, while Russia continued to throw blame on Ukraine and the United States.

“The arms seizure of buildings mirrors tactics of early stages of Crimean invasion,” U.S. Ambassador Samatha Power said according to NBC News. ”We know who is behind this and the only people capable of it is Russia.”

Ukraine’s Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev agreed.

“Ukraine has strong evidence of Russian Special Forces presence in Ukraine,” he said. “The strategy is the same as in Crimea and terrorist groups are acting in a planned manner … Russia positions itself against terrorism but by sending their men to Ukraine it is state-sponsored terrorism.”

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On Monday morning, another police station in Eastern Ukraine in the town of Korlivka, 70 kilometers from Donetsk, was taken over by pro-Russian forces. According to NBC, men emerged from the building and declared “the police are with the people.”

In the town of Slaviansk, armed pro-Russian gunmen seized the police building Saturday, prompting a confrontation with Ukrainian security forces, in which at least one officer was killed, according to the Ukrainian government. Other security centers in the country’s eastern region also were seized in similar operations.

Adding to the tensions, tens of thousands of Russian troops are assembled along Ukraine’s eastern border. Many residents of the region are sympathetic to Russia and oppose Ukraine’s pro-western regime.

Russia reiterated their narrative that the conflict has been pushed all along by terrorists waging a war against their own country.

“The international committee must require that henchmen of Maidan stop war with their own people,” the Russian Federation’s Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said, according to NBC. “Western sponsors of Maidan including USA should stop this.”

The meeting began just five hours ahead of the deadline given by Oleksandr Turchynov, Ukraine’s acting president, for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to end a campaign to take over government buildings. Turchynov said earlier Sunday that the army would begin an anti-terrorism campaign at 2 a.m. EST Monday, CNN reported.

“All those supporting aggressors and occupiers in an armed struggle against our country will not escape punishment and will be prosecuted,” Turchynov said.

The U.S. said Russia must pull back its troops to continue peace talks.

“We remain eager and willing to continue talks, but to do so, we require Russia to pull back troops. We require Russia to de-escalate,” Power said. “If Russia is interested in peace then it will engage quickly and better than it has up until now.”

Russia, however, fired back with a fiery condemnation of Ukraine and the U.S., sounding disinterested in continuing talks.

“Russia has been in favor, not of worsening of the crisis, not destabilize the country, we dont’ want that. It is not our fault that the situation has come to this,” Churkin said. “Apparently Maidan was a cry for democracy but apparently in Crimea or East Ukraine it’s an act of defiance, what is the difference? U.S. is going to encourage the criminal use of force? It makes no sense!”

“Why did you not respond to our call to help yo uduring the political crisis in Kiev?” Churkin said. “Why do you want to talk now? Let’s see if the EU can take its own decisions.”

Russia, Samantha Power and Ukraine

U.N. holds urgent meeting on Ukraine as tensions escalate

Updated