Friday, March 14, 2014, 15:02
Ukraine accuses Russia of 'military aggression'
By Associated Press

 Ukraine accuses Russia of 'military aggression'
Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk speaks as he holds up a copy of the United Nations charter during an UN Security Council meeting on the Ukraine crisis on March 13, 2014, at the United Nations Headquarters. (Photo / AP)

UNITED NATIONS - Ukraine's prime minister told the UN Security Council on Thursday that Russia had carried out "military aggression" in Crimea, and dramatically switched from English to Russian to ask Russia whether it wants war.

Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin gave him a direct answer: "Russia does not want war and neither do the Russians, and I'm convinced the Ukrainians don't want that either."

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine has had "warm and friendly relations" with Russia for decades and he is also convinced "that Russians do not want war."

"And I hope that the Russian government and the Russian president will heed the wishes of their people and that we return urgently to dialogue and solve this conflict," he said.

Churkin did not respond to Yatsenyuk's call to return to talks. Instead, he criticized the "illegal" and "forceful overthrow" of President Viktor Yanukovich.

"Instead of a government of national unity as provided for in the Feb 21 agreement," Churkin said, "in Kiev what you had was a government of the victors."

In his brief speech, Yatsenyuk accused Russia of violating the U.N. Charter and several treaties and urged Moscow to pull back its troops in the Crimean Peninsula to barracks and to start real negotiations to tackle the conflict.

The public in Crimea will vote on on Sunday whether to break away from Ukraine and become part of Russia. Russia on Thursday conducted new military maneuvers near its border with Ukraine.

China's UN Ambassador Liu Jieyi iterated Beijing's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"It is China's long-standing position not to interfere in other countries internal affairs," he said. "All parties must exercise calm and restraint and prevent further escalation."