Separatists shoot down Ukrainian helicopter
Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine have shot down a Ukrainian military helicopter, killing 14 government troops, including a general.
Acting President Oleksandr Turchynov told parliament Thursday that “terrorists” used a shoulder-launched missile to down the helicopter near the separatist-held city of Slovyansk.
Earlier Thursday, a separatist leader said his group was holding four European observers who have been missing since late Monday.
Vyacheslav Ponomarev, the self-styled “people’s mayor of Slovyansk, said the observers are well and could be freed soon.
He said he had warned the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe that the monitors should not travel in the area, but that they did anyway.
The OSCE said Wednesday another group of 11 observers were detained in the same area, but were later released. The monitors are in Ukraine as part of a mission to reduce tensions and promote peace and security.
Swiss Foreign Minister and OSCE chairman Didier Burkhalter said in a statement Wednesday the detentions are undermining the group’s work and amounted to “acts of sabotage” against international efforts to help Ukraine overcome the months-long crisis.
Also Wednesday, members of the United Nations Security Council urged all sides in Ukraine to stop fighting and open talks, and welcomed the election of Petro Poroshenko as the country’s new president.
Ukrainian Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev told the council that support for the new president from all across Ukraine confirms the people’s strong desire for national unity. He urged Russia to stop interfering and stirring up the nationalists.
But Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the election was not a perfect solution, even if the Kremlin has promised to respect the outcome.
Poroshenko tells Germany’s Bild newspaper that he will try to hold direct talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin when both mark the anniversary of D-Day next week in France.