Ukraine crisis: Slavyansk shooting threatens fraught Easter truce

Moscow and Kiev trade accusations over the identity of the attackers

Russia and Ukraine have descended into a bitter blame game after a gunfire battle killed at least one person and left three wounded in the eastern Ukraine town of Slavyansk on Sunday.

The incident comes just hours after Kiev declared a truce coinciding with the Easter holidays in an effort to de-escalate tensions in the volatile region where pro-Russian groups have seized government buildings calling for the interim government to resign.

The identity of the attackers remains unclear with both sides trading accusations and blaming each other for the deadly clash.

In a statement, Russia's foreign ministry blamed Ukraine's Right Sector, a far-right paramilitary group which played a prominent role in the ousting of former president Viktor Yanukovych.

"Russia is indignant about this provocation by gunmen, which testifies to the lack of will on the part of the Kiev authorities to rein in and disarm nationalists and extremists," the statement said.

The Right Sector denied being involved in the Slavyansk shooting and blamed Russian special forces for the attack.

"It is a blasphemous provocation from Russia, blasphemous because it took place on a holy night for Christians, on Easter night. This was clearly carried out by Russian special forces," Artem Skoropadsky, a spokesman for the Right Sector, told Reuters.

Ukraine's intelligence service also accused Russia of staging the shooting and "terrorising the local population" as part of a "cynical provocation" "supported and armed by officers of Russia's GRU" military intelligence.

The country's interior ministry said one person was killed in the attack and three were wounded. It said none of its forces had mounted an operation overnight in the area, which it described as "the most dangerous place in Ukraine, in view of the presence in the town of foreign saboteurs and illegal armed groups".

It also raised suspicion about the speed in which "camera crews from Russian TV stations appeared at the scene of the shooting, and the obviously staged subject matter of news reports in the Russian media".

Pro-Russian separatists said the battle broke out at around 2am after four vehicles approached their checkpoint and opened fire.

Kiev fears Russian forces could enter the country and seize more Ukrainian territory under the pretext of maintaining peace in the region.

 

Meanwhile, Ukraine's interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk lashed out at the Kremlin accusing President Vladimir Putin of trying to "restore the Soviet Union" in an interview with NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday.

"President Putin has a dream to restore the Soviet Union," said Yatsenyuk. "And every day, he goes further and further. And God knows where is the final destination."

The Russian leader famously described the collapse of the USSR in 1991 as the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe" of the 20th century.

Today, Mr Yatsenyuk warned that restoring the Soviet Union would be the "biggest disaster of this century".

His comments come after a senior mediator with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) set off for eastern Ukraine to try to persuade pro-Russian groups to lay down their arms on Saturday.

Separatists have remained in the buildings in defiance to an agreement reached between the interim government in Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the European Union.

Washington has threatened further sanctions on Russia if it does not work to use its perceived influence over the separatists to get them to  leave the buildings.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Bourgogne wine maker Laboure-Roi vice president Thibault Garin (L) offers the company's 2013 Beaujolais Nouveau wine to the guest in the wine spa at the Hakone Yunessun spa resort facilities in Hakone town, Kanagawa prefecture, some 100-kilometre west of Tokyo
i100
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album