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By firing ‘bullets & shells’ at breakaway eastern regions, Ukraine is undermining own calls for unity, Russian UN envoy claims

By firing ‘bullets & shells’ at breakaway eastern regions, Ukraine is undermining own calls for unity, Russian UN envoy claims
One of Russia’s top diplomats has argued that Kiev is undermining any hopes it may have of reconciliation with the self-declared breakaway Donbass republics by continuing to engage in bloody fighting and hostilities in the region.

Dmitry Polyankskiy, Moscow’s deputy permanent representative at the United Nations, told journalists on Thursday that Ukraine is taking an increasingly confrontational attitude toward those it claims as its citizens.

The envoy pointed to moves by Kiev to cut off water supplies to Crimea, which it claims as part of its sovereign territory, despite it being reabsorbed into Russia after a 2014 referendum. Ukraine and a number of foreign governments regard the vote as illegitimate. The decision has led to shortages and residents finding their taps running dry, but the UN official said that it would soon no longer be dependent on Ukraine for water, with new facilities under construction.

“On the one hand,” Polyanskiy argued, the Ukrainian government “is appealing to residents of Crimea and to residents of Eastern Ukraine, saying that they are part of this country and Kiev wants them to come back.”

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In the east of the country, where Kiev’s forces have clashed with those loyal to the self-described Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, the contradiction is apparently even worse. When it comes to a potential reunification, the question of Crimea’s status, he argued, is already closed. However, “the question of Donbass is not closed,” the diplomat said.

“But the door is almost shut because people there receive on a daily basis bullets and shells from Ukrainian forces, and they have very little motivation to want to come back. So if this is the message to convince the rebellious regions to come back to Ukraine, it is a very dubious policy, but it is of course up to Kiev to decide.”

Renewed hostilities in recent months has led to reports of soldiers and civilians dying on both sides of the frontier. “The situation on the contact line in Ukraine is extremely unstable,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has said. “The dynamics of the development of this state of affairs, and the behavior of the Ukrainian side, creates the danger of a resumption of full-scale hostilities.”

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Earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin’s Deputy Chief of Staff Dmitry Kozak said that Moscow could be forced to intervene if Kiev were to launch an all-out offensive. “Everything depends on what the scale of fighting would be,” he said.

Analysts had reported that tens of thousands of Russian troops had been stationed along the border with Ukraine in recent weeks, sparking fears in Kiev and the West that the Kremlin could be close to ordering an invasion. However, after a series of surprise drills, Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu announced subsequently that the soldiers would return to their usual bases, having passed readiness tests.

Kiev has welcomed the move, but said that “the fact that the [Russian] troops are withdrawing does not mean that the army should not be ready for the fact that they could return to the borders of our country at any moment.”

Also on rt.com Full-scale Ukrainian war would threaten Russian security Kremlin warns, pledging action to prevent ‘humanitarian catastrophe’

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