Parties to Ukraine conflict urged to exercise restraint: UNListen /
All sides to the conflict in Ukraine are being urged to exercise maximum restraint and to return to the negotiating table, the UN political chief told members of the Security Council on Friday.
Jeffrey Feltman said the recent developments in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine threatened to further destabilize the country, the region, as well as the unity of Ukraine itself.
Ukraine has been in turmoil since February when its President Yanukovych was forcibly removed from power after months of political unrest.
The eastern city of Slovyansk, he added, was of immediate concern.
"The city of 125,000 people in Donetsk Oblast has been occupied by armed insurgents since the 12th of April. During the ongoing operations by the authorities, according to Ukraine’s Minister of Defence, two helicopters were shot overnight with at least one pilot killed. A number of other casualties have also been reported on the ground on both sides. The total at this stage cannot be completely verified. The Acting Minister of Interior has stated a number of roadblocks have been removed from around the city but from the media reports we understand that "tense standoffs continue in parts of and around the city."
Mr Feltman joined the Secretary General in calling for the "immediate and unconditional" release of the seven European military and accompanying Ukrainian staff detained by armed gunmen in Slovyansk.
Russian President Putin has also dispatched a special presidential envoy to assist in the freeing of the hostages, he told the Council.
Meanwhile, Mr Feltman will be travelling to Moscow and Kiev next week to deliver a strong message from Mr. Ban Ki-moon to all actors in the conflict.
Jocelyne Sambira, United Nations.