Ukraine conflict Russia sanctions protest
Sanctions on Russia were imposed as it did not comply with the Minsk Agreement, which required Ukraine to regain control over its own borderReuters

The pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine has escalated in recent weeks to a level not seen since August 2014, even when it was at its peak, a top UN official has said. Calling all parties to cease hostilities, UN assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, Taye-Brook-Zerihoun, said at a Security Council meeting that the number of people killed in the conflict increased to 9,333 in April from 9,160 in March 2016.

He said that the most recent incident occurred on 27 April when shelling left at least four civilians dead and eight people injured near the Ukrainian city of Donetsk. To address the situation, the Security Council held a meeting which witnessed bitter accusations from representatives of both Russia and Ukraine, blaming each other for the violent outbreak.

Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Deputy Minister Vadym Prystaiko claimed that military forces deployed by Moscow were better armed than most Nato members despite the Russians claiming that their weapons were acquired in local hardware stores, according to Associated Press.

Accusing the Russians for aiding an illegal military entity, Prystaiko said, "Last time I checked, you will hardly be able to buy a decent knife in Ukrainian hardware stores, not to mention the multiple-launch rocket systems and jet flamethrowers."

Russian Ambassador Vitaly I. Churkin criticised how the "UN has been used as a propaganda platform over the entire crisis", and dismissed Ukraine's statement before the council as "very disappointing" and "a lot of rhetoric but no specific plan [about how to implement the Minsk agreement]".

The US, France, and Britain have all denounced Russian aggression for igniting the conflict. "What is happening today is the result of Russia's violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity which began with its occupation of Crimea more than two years ago and expanded with substantial military on the ground and weapons support for armed separatists in Eastern Ukraine," American ambassador, Samantha Power, told the council.