Ukraine helicopter shot down, ceasefire shattered

2014-06-26 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio)  Ukrainian officials say nine people have died when a military helicopter was shot down by pro-Russia separatists, shattering a temporary ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and adding to fears of civil war. 


An angry Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko warned he may end a week-long ceasefire in retaliation for the attack against the military helicopter, which crashed near the troubled rebel-controlled town of Slovyansk. The aircraft was believed to be carrying engineers, who were installing equipment to monitor violations of the truce, announced last Friday by Poroshenko. 


With tensions rising, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Ukraine to extend the ceasefire and sit down for talks with the rebels. Those views were shared by his Austrian counterpart, Heinz Fischer, with whom he signed a major natural gas pipeline deal in Vienna. 



Putin earlier moved to overturn a parliamentary resolution authorizing him to use the Russian military in Ukraine.


“The cancellation of this decision doesn’t mean that we’re not willing to observe the situation in Ukraine very carefully," Putin told reporters. "We’ll definitely protect the ethnic Russians in the country and the Ukrainian people that feel connected to the great Russian people, language and culture.”


But with gunfire once again reported, there is mounting concern the fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government forces will not end in Ukraine, which is to sign the European Union association agreement on Friday. 


The violence in the east began after Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March. The United Nations says clashes have already killed more than 400 people and displaced thousands more. 


Listen to the report by Stefan Bos:

(From archive of Vatican Radio)