Aug 29, 2014

By Jane Brown

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The death toll from the war in eastern Ukraine has risen to at least 2220 with some three dozen people killed each day.  The numbers have been released by the U.N. Human Rights office which says both sides are committing a range of abuses targeting civilians trapped in urban areas or trying to flee through so-called safe corridors.

The latest findings from the Geneva office, based on reports from a 34-member U.N. monitoring mission in Ukraine between mid-July and mid-August, says pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine have carried out murders, torture and abductions along with other serious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law.

Today’s report says Ukraine’s military is also responsible for human rights violations such as arbitrary detentions, disappearances and torture.

U.S. President Obama says the United States will stand firm with its allies to address the conflict in Ukraine, where he says Russia is backing pro-Russian separatists. But he is ruling out the possibility that the U-S will take military action to address the growing violence.  Obama spoke yesterday amid reports that two Russian military columns rolled into the southeastern part of Ukraine after missiles were fired at a border post.

In a related development, European Union foreign ministers are adopting a tougher stance on the Ukraine crisis amid increasing calls to beef up economic sanctions against Russia.  The ministers’ meeting today in Milan comes a day after NATO said Russia has already moved about a thousand soldiers and much heavy weaponry into Ukraine, a development that’s fueled fears of a wider invasion.  The United States, Canada and the EU have imposed sanctions against Russian officials and the country’s financial industry. Moscow has retaliated by banning food imports.


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