World leaders ramped up pressure on Moscow Sunday to stop pro-Kremlin rebels from embarking on a major new offensive in eastern Ukraine after rocket fire killed at least 30 people in a strategic government-held port.
The mayor of Mariupol’s office said 97 people were also wounded by dozens of long-distance rockets that smashed into a packed residential district early in the morning and then again shortly after noon.
“Obviously, everyone in the city is very scared,” Eduard, a native of the city of half a million, told AFP.
A fellow resident named Pavlo described dazed survivors helping wounded victims to climb out of the concrete rubble of Soviet-era apartment blocks and navigate streets strewn with shattered glass.
No group has claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, but the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the rocket fire came from two locations “controlled by the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’”.
The attack on the last Kiev-controlled major city in Ukraine’s restive east, which links separatist territory with Russian-occupied Crimea, drew ire from Western leaders, who blame Moscow for stoking the conflict that has claimed more than 5,000 lives.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, cutting short a trip to Saudi Arabia to chair an emergency National Security and Defence Council meeting in Kiev, vowed to “defend our motherland the way real patriots do — until a full victory”.
US Vice President Joe Biden, after a phone call with Poroshenko, warned that costs would “continue to rise” for Russia, which the White House accuses of sending troops and weapons to help the separatists — a change Moscow has repeatedly denied.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also denounced the rebel groups for launching a fresh offensive, in violation of a September peace treaty, “and particularly their provocative statements about claiming further territory”.
By Edos News