Ukraine, Russia shift ‘battlefront’ to UAE

Embassies of both countries in UAE trade barbs over a document that alleges pro-Russian separatists violated truce.


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Published: Thu 18 Jun 2015, 11:54 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:09 PM

Dubai — The conflict in Ukraine has spread to diplomatic missions in the UAE, with the Russian embassy in Abu Dhabi accusing their Ukrainian counterparts of spreading “propaganda” regarding the war.

In an exchange with Khaleej Times, a Russian embassy spokesman accused Ukraine’s embassy of releasing a document that “was circulated among diplomatic missions and UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs”.

In its June 16 response, the Russian embassy called the Ukrainian document a “new product of Ukrainian imagination”, which “does not go beyond lies and disinformation”.

The Russian response goes on to refute many of the points they say were raised in the Ukrainian document, such as shelling and the destruction of critical infrastructure by separatist militias.

In turn, the Russian statement accuses Ukraine of “constant bombardment” of separatist-held areas, resulting in “massive destructions in the residential areas, daily news about dead wounded among local civilians.”

“All questions should be addressed to the opposite side,” the statement says.

“What about thousands of people hiding from Ukrainian bombs and shells in basements for months, deprived of most basic facilities and services even when power- and pipelines are intact?

Responding to questions from the Khaleej Times, a Ukrainian embassy spokesman confirmed that documents had been circulated among foreign embassies in the UAE.

The documents — which were provided to Khaleej Times by the Ukrainian embassy — accuses Russian-backed separatists of breaking the ceasefire over 50 times on June 14.

 The documents include specific incidences of what the Ukrainian government says are Russian and separatist artillery and rocket attacks that violate the February Minsk Agreement, which was meant to end hostilities, as well as multiple threats and hindrances to observers from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

The report also includes specific separatist-held locations in which Ukraine says Russian and separatist heavy weapons, including tanks and heavy artillery, are being kept in violation of the ceasefire agreement, and notes that Ukrainian military observers have documented 60 drone flights by Russian and separatist aerial vehicles between June 12 and 14 alone. 

The Russian statement, in turn, accuses Ukraine of “ridiculing” the implementation of the Minsk agreement by bringing in additional heavy weapons.

Additionally, the Ukrainian documents strongly condemn attacks on Ukrainian diplomatic missions in Moscow and in the Russian city of Rostov.

In response, the Russian statement accuses Ukrainian authorities of failing to hold anyone accountable for attacks on Russian consulates in the Ukrainian cities of Kharkov and Lvov on June 11th and 12th, as well it what it calls the “siege” of the Russian embassy in Kiev in 2014.

This is not the first time the Russian embassy in the UAE has chimed in on Ukrainian, American and Nato allegations that its forces are operating in Ukraine.

 In September, the Russian embassy posted a picture of toy tanks and armoured vehicles with the caption “#Nato’s latest evidence of Russian armor invading Ukraine has been leaked! Seems to be the most convincing ever!”

According to the United Nations, more than 6,000 people have been killed since pro-Russian separatists began fighting the Ukrainian military in the eastern part of the country in April 2014.

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