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UN fails to act over Ukraine crisis

The UN Security Council tonight again failed to take action on the growing crisis in Ukraine.

Western powers scoffed at Russia's apparent show of indignation as its ambassador Vitaly Churkin demanded a "swift halt of all violence".

Council members accused Russia of equipping and funding the pro-Russia forces that have seized government buildings in 10 eastern cities. In response Ukraine today launched its first major offensive against the insurgency.

"Russia ... has released bands of thugs on Ukraine ... and is suddenly discovering this mixture might escape its control," said French ambassador Gerard Araud.

Russia called the latest council meeting, the second in a week. Mr Churkin called on Kiev and its Western "enablers ... to not commit a fatal error" and stop the offensive, which he described as "criminal misadventures". He again called Ukraine's interim government illegitimate.

But British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant retorted that "Russia's synthetic indignation convinces no one," and US Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia was "trying to insult the intelligence of the world community" by calling another urgent council meeting.

The council so far has been unable to agree on any action on Ukraine, as Russia holds veto power as a permanent council member. The 193-nation General Assembly weeks ago affirmed Ukraine's territorial integrity in a surprisingly strong but non-binding vote, showing Russia's isolated stance.

Frustration soared again tonight as Mr Araud despaired at the council's "impotence".

"Peaceful protesters do not use grenade launchers," Lithuania's ambassador, Raimonda Murmokaite, said tartly. "They do not kidnap and shamelessly parade international observers."

Ukraine's deputy ambassador to the UN, Oleksandr Pavlichenko, told the council that his country rejects all attempts by Russia to blame it for not upholding the Geneva agreement, and he dismissed as "false" Russian claims that some members of Ukraine's new military operation spoke English.

The council's president this month, South Korean ambassador Oh Joon, asked at the end of the meeting whether Russia was proposing some kind of council statement calling for an end to the violence. Mr Churkin said "it would be good ... to make a statement all together".

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