UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council on Tuesday called on all parties in eastern Ukraine to stop fighting and implement a European-brokered peace deal as an almost three-day-old ceasefire rapidly began to unravel.
Russia drafted a resolution, adopted unanimously by the 15-member council, in a move that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, described as “ironic” given the rebels fighting in eastern Ukraine are backed by Moscow.
Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine fought their way into an encircled government bastion and were battling street to street on Tuesday. The rebels say the truce does not apply at all to the main battle front at the town of Debaltseve.
“Russia signs agreements then does everything within its power to undermine them, Russia champions the sovereignty of nations and then acts as if a neighbour’s borders do not exist,” Power told the Security Council after the vote.
“The idea that Russia, which manufactured and continues to escalate the violence in Ukraine has tabled a resolution today calling for the conflict’s peaceful solution is ironic to say the least,” she said.
The resolution endorsed the peace deal that was reached at all-night talks in the Belarussian capital Minsk last week and called for all parties to implement it.
The council expressed “its full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine” and its “grave concern at the tragic events and violence in eastern regions of Ukraine.”
It also reaffirmed a resolution adopted by the council in July, which demanded access to the eastern Ukraine site where a Malaysian passenger plane crashed with 298 people on board.
“Since the very start of the crisis Russia has actively called for a peaceful settlement through inclusive, transparent dialogue between the sides in the internal Ukrainian conflict,” Russian U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the council. “We will adhere to this fundamental approach in the future also.”
The resolution was adopted shortly after the council issued a press statement on Ukraine calling for all parties to stop fighting. That British-drafted statement expressed grave concern at continued fighting in and around Debaltseve.
The U.N. Security Council has held dozens of meetings on the Ukrainian conflict.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Chris Reese and James Dalgleish