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Ukraine, Russia Spar Over UN Security Council Reaction To Churkin Death

Flowers are laid in front of a portrait of Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin at the Foreign Ministry guest house in Moscow on February 21. Churkin died suddenly the previous day.

Moscow and Kyiv are at odds over a statement issued by the UN Security Council mourning the February 20 death of Russia's long-time envoy to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin.

Russia angrily accused Ukraine, which holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation Security Council this month, of blocking the adoption of a "presidential statement" honoring Churkin.

“This is wild and inhuman,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on February 21. He also accused Ukraine of acting in an "un-Christian" way, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "May God judge them."

Kyiv rejected the criticism, saying that the Security Council issued a press statement but suggesting that a formal presidential statement would have been out of place.

"We didn’t block anything," Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maryana Betsa said.

She said that "a statement was issued for the press, as has been done in such cases in the past. There haven’t been many such cases. But there was no precedent for a separate political statement.”

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been extremely high since Russia forcibly annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in 2014 and began providing active political and military support to separatists fighting the government in eastern Ukraine.

In November 2016, the lead prosecutor for the International Criminal Court issued a finding that the conflict "is equivalent to an international armed conflict between Ukraine and the Russian Federation."

Russia is one of five veto-wielding permanent Security Council members.

With reporting by TASS, RIA Novosti, and UNIAN
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