05-12-2022 12:37 AM Jerusalem Timing

Ukraine Seeks NATO Membership As Death Toll Fighting Hits 2,593

Ukraine Seeks NATO Membership As Death Toll Fighting Hits 2,593

Ukraine said on Friday it would seek the protection of NATO membership after what Kiev and its Western allies say is the open participation of the Russian military in the war in Ukraine’s eastern provinces.

Ukraine securityUkraine said on Friday it would seek the protection of NATO membership after what Kiev and its Western allies say is the open participation of the Russian military in the war in Ukraine's eastern provinces, a declaration which coincided with a U.N. statement revealing that a total of 2,593 people, including civilians as well as Ukrainian and separatist combatants, have been killed in fighting in eastern Ukraine since it erupted in mid-April.

"The trend is clear and alarming. There is a significant increase in the death toll in the east," Ivan Simonovic, U.N. Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights, said on Friday.

NATO's secretary general said he respected Ukraine's right to seek membership, and accused Russia of blatantly and illegally intervening in eastern Ukraine.

Moscow denies its forces are fighting to support pro-Russian rebels who have declared independence in eastern Ukraine, but the rebels have all but confirmed it, saying thousands of Russian troops have fought on their behalf while "on leave".
Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk told a government meeting on Friday the cabinet would "bring before parliament a law to scrap the non-aligned status of the Ukrainian state and establish a course towards membership of NATO."
Simonovic, presenting a report by a U.N. monitoring mission, said civilian casualties would continue to rise "as each side increases its strength, through mobilisation, better organisation or the deployment of new fighters and more sophisticated weapons and support from outside."
The death toll was nearly 400 more than that given in the report, which covered the period up to August 17.
Simonovic accused in his report pro-Russian separatists of a wide array of human rights abuses, including murder, abductions and torture, and said they were receiving a "steady supply" of sophisticated weapons and ammunition.
The report, prepared by the U.N. human rights office in Geneva, also cited reports of human rights violations by Ukraine's military forces and special battalions run by the Interior Ministry.
"Armed groups continue to commit killings, abductions, physical and psychological torture, ill treatment, executions, murder and other serious human rights abuses," the report said, adding that violations were disproportionately targeting civilians.
"The Ukraine military has reported shelling from (Russian) territory...and of the illegal use of landmines in Ukraine territory," the monitors said.
NATO denied Ukraine a fast track towards membership in 2008 when a previous pro-European government in Kiev tried to pursue closer ties with the alliance.