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Cold Reception For Russia Resolution At UN Security Council

A pro-Russia militant shoots from a roof of a residential building at border guards defending the Federal Border Headquarters building in Luhansk on June 2.
A Russian draft resolution calling for an immediate end to the fighting in eastern Ukraine and a humanitarian corridor met with a cool response at the UN Security Council on June 2.

Moscow drafted the resolution during its month-long presidency of the council as fighting continued between Ukrainian forces and pro-Moscow separatists.

British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told reporters after the closed consultations that there was little support for the resolution.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department said Moscow's move was "hypocritical" since Russia was doing "nothing" to stop Russian-backed separatists from attacking new targets and holding international monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) hostage.

In Ukraine on June 2, hundreds of pro-Russian gunmen attacked a Ukrainian border-guard camp on the outskirts of separatist-controlled Luhansk with mortar and grenade launchers in one of the biggest offensives of the insurgency so far. Reports said at least five separatists were killed.

At least two people were killed in an explosion in Luhansk on June 2 in what pro-Russian officials claimed was a Ukrainian air strike on their headquarters.

Kyiv has denied the accusation.

Russia is all but isolated at the United Nations on the Ukrainian issue. In a nonbinding resolution in March, the General Assembly refused to recognize its annexation of Crimea.

Russia vetoed a separate resolution in the Security Council that was approved by 13 other members. China abstained.

The text of the June 2 draft resolution demands "the immediate cessation of hositilities" and urges those fighting "to commit themselves to a sustainable cease-fire."

Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told reporters after the hour-long meeting that Red Cross workers have expressed "extreme concern" about the humanitarian situation as a result of large-scale military operations by Ukrainian troops "and so-called national guard."

But ambassador Grant told journalists, "No one is under food shortages, there's no besieging of cities so it's not quite clear what the scale or crisis is that would justify humanitarian corridors."

An unnamed Western diplomat suggested that Russia introduced the resolution to distract council members from ongoing discussions on how to enforce humanitarian corridors in Syria. He said the resolution will most likely be pushed aside and forgotten.

And Ukrainian UN envoy Yuriy Sergeyev accused Russia of sponsoring terrorism, and he added, "The very fact that the resolution on Ukraine is tabled by the Russian Federation is cynical and immoral."

Meanwhile, the EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Russia's and Ukraine's gas companies agreed to consider a plan for Kyiv to pay off its outstanding gas debts, including a proposal that should ensure security of supply until June 2015.

Following around six hours of EU-brokered talks in Brussels, Oettinger said the companies' chief executives and their governments would now consider the proposal. He said another round of trilateral talks could take place in the following days.

Earlier, in a conciliatory gesture, Russia's Gazprom had given Kyiv until June 9 to resolve the two countries' long-running row over gas pricing, postponing a threat to cut off supplies as early as June 3.

Russia has demanded a sharp increase in the price Ukraine pays for gas since the overthrow of pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in February.

Ukraine has said it cannot afford it and wants the discounted price negotiated by Yanukovych before his ouster.

While the dispute continued, Gazprom kept charging Kyiv at the higher rate and said Ukraine already owes it more than $5 billion in unpaid bills.

But after Ukraine paid off $786 million of its gas debt, Gazprom announced a six-day extension of the deadline until June 9.

The gas dispute has implications for the EU, which gets one-third of its gas from Russia -- almost half of it through Ukraine.
With reporting by AFP and Reuters

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