KIEV – The UN Security Council will hold a special meeting on Monday on the violence in eastern Ukraine after a rocket barrage blamed on separatists killed 30 and threatened to open up a new front in the war.
US President Barack Obama vowed to ramp up pressure on Russia after Saturday's assault on Mariupol – the main city standing between separatist territory near the Russian border and the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.
The deadly assault on the port city came a day after the insurgents pulled out of peace talks and vowed to capture new land.
The special Security Council meeting, scheduled to start at 3pm (2000 GMT) on Monday, comes after its 15 members failed on Saturday to agree on a resolution denouncing the rocket attacks after Russia blocked the effort, according to Western diplomats.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told an emergency security meeting that Kiev had intercepted calls proving the attack was masterminded "by terrorists who receive support in Russia". Obama said he would now look at all options – short of military intervention – to restrain Russian President Vladimir Putin's alleged proxy war aimed at stripping Ukraine's pro-Western leaders of their vital eastern industrial base.
He pledged to "ratchet up the pressure on Russia" and signalled that he took a dim view of some EU members' desire to revive their ailing economies by restoring full financial and trade ties with sanctions-hit Moscow.
In a call to Putin on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the Russian president to "put pressure" on separatists to end the upsurge in violence, her spokesman Steffen Seibert said.
New European Council President Donald Tusk – a former Polish prime minister who had long been suspicious of Putin – also called the Mariupol attack evidence that "appeasement encourages the aggressor to greater acts of violence". French President Francois Hollande meanwhile expressed his "very strong concern" over the Mariupol violence in talks with Poroshenko and Tusk. — AFP