MOSCOW, August 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russia’s envoy to the United Nations has called on members of the UN Security Council to adopt a media statement urging a ceasefire in Ukraine, a request that the Council has ignored.
"The current escalation of the situation in southeastern Ukraine is a direct consequence of Kiev’s wrongful policy to wage a war against its own people," Vitaly Churkin said at an emergency UN Security Council meeting Thursday.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told the Council that Russia "must stop lying," accusing Moscow of sending soldiers, tanks and weaponry into eastern Ukraine to support separatists there.
The accusation came after NATO reported that, according to its satellite images, hundreds of Russian government troops had crossed into eastern Ukraine.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov called the accusation "ridiculous," saying that the phrase "NATO published shots of Russian troops in Ukraine" has become too common lately.
Churkin stressed that there are only nine Russian servicemen currently in Ukraine.
"They are the paratroopers who accidentally crossed into Ukraine," Churkin told the Rossiya 24 channel on Thursday.
Following NATO claims, US President Barack Obama said the United States expects to agree to another round of economic sanctions against Russia during meetings with its European allies next week, but has ruled out any military intervention in Ukraine.
"It is not in the cards for us to see a military confrontation between Russia and the United States in this region," Obama told reporters at the White House on Thursday.
The US president said he held a telephone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier in the day and that the two agreed that "Russia is responsible for the violence in eastern Ukraine."
Obama, who is due in Wales next week for a NATO summit, told the press briefing that he would host Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in September to discuss the escalating crisis.
Commenting on NATO’s claims about Russia’s alleged military involvement in Ukraine, Churkin said, "There are Russian volunteers in eastern parts of Ukraine. No one is hiding that."
The Russian envoy stressed that Ukrainian authorities should stop resorting to military action and should seek a political deal with independence fighters in the country’s east.
The United Nations estimates that the conflict in the region has killed more than 2,200 people and has forced more than 400,000 to flee since April.
Churkin said that the number of Ukrainian refugees coming to Russia has reached 814,000.
Addressing the UN Security Council, Poroshenko urged Ukraine’s citizens not to panic, and said the situation in the country's east was "difficult but controllable."
Poroshenko noted that consultations between the Russian and Ukrainian army headquarters, agreed upon following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk on Tuesday, had begun.
On Friday night Putin called on militia fighters to provide a humanitarian corridor in the east of the country for Ukrainian troops to leave the battlefield.
"I call on the militia forces to open a humanitarian corridor for encircled Ukraine servicemen in order to avoid pointless victims, to allow them leave the fighting area without impediment, join their families … to provide urgent medical aid to those wounded as a result of the military operation," Putin said in a statement.