UN backing for Ukraine ceasefire
The UN Security Council has unanimously approved a Russian-drafted resolution that endorses the new ceasefire agreement on Ukraine and calls on all parties involved to carry it out.
An expected vote over the weekend was delayed when other council members pressed Russia to add words about Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, the passenger jet that was shot down last year over rebel-held eastern Ukraine. Council members said they wanted to make sure the 298 victims were not forgotten.
The resolution reaffirms last year's council resolution that calls for an independent investigation into the crash and for those responsible to be held accountable.
Notably, the word "independence" was added to the resolution when referring to the "sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine", something that Western diplomats have insisted that any UN resolution reaffirm.
Even while supporting the resolution, the United States and other council members spoke with scorn. US ambassador Samantha Power called Russia's drafting of it "ironic, to say the least" while it is "backing an all-out assault" in Ukraine.
Council members have repeatedly accused Russia of backing the separatists in eastern Ukraine, while Russia denies it.
British ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said the council, which has been deadlocked on Ukraine because of a possible veto by Russia as a permanent council member, must play a full role in ensuring compliance with the ceasefire, including "willingness to take further steps in the event it is not implemented".
He said the "flagrant disregard" for the ceasefire that started just after midnight on Sunday was disconcerting and called on Russia to "deliver on the promises it has made".
Russia offered a few resolutions calling for a ceasefire last year , but they were unpopular with council members who were angry over its annexation of Crimea early in the crisis.
The United States quickly denounced one draft that called for establishing humanitarian aid corridors in the region as "hypocritical".