Ukraine: Russia Is "On The Dark Side"

by Lauren Barbato

Chaos and confusion remained in eastern Ukraine on Monday as rescue officials continued to clash with pro-Russian separatists over the retrieval of bodies of the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. While speaking to reporters in Kiev, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk said Russia is "on the dark side," and held the Russian government, including President Vladimir Putin, responsible for the downing of MH17, which was allegedly hit by a Russian-made missile. All 298 passengers onboard were killed.

Yatseniuk told press:

This is a global threat and Russia is on the dark side. This is our priority and [should be] the key priority of the entire world — to stop Russian aggression. ... I expect nothing from the Russian government. What they can do... they can supply weapons, they can send well-trained agents, they can support these guerillas, but they have to stop and Putin has to realize that enough is enough. This is not the conflict just between Ukraine and Russia. This is an international and global conflict after they shot down MH17.

The Ukrainian prime minister added that Russia "trained these bastards [the Ukrainian separatists] and supported them and even orchestrated ‎this despicable crime." Putin, he said, has created "an international war."

His statements come on the heels of a newly launched assault in the Donetsk region, where the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight crashed last Thursday. According to BBC News, there have been reports of heavy fighting in the city of Donetsk, which is currently under rebel control. Eyewitnesses said the fighting is occurring near the city's airport — the second-largest international airport in the Ukraine — and rail station. Donetsk residents are reportedly leaving the city.

It is unclear who initiated the assault, but Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko ordered the Ukrainian military to cease all fighting on Monday, according to the BBC.

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images News/Getty Images

As Ukrainian officials and other world leaders continue to place pressure on Russia, Putin has remained uncompromising. Addressing the Russian nation in a televised speech on Monday, Putin criticized the leaders of Western Europe for politicizing the MH17 disaster:

However, nobody should - and no one has the right to - use this tragedy to achieve selfish political ends. Such events should not divide people but unite them. We have more than once called on all sides in the conflict to immediately stop the bloodshed and begin negotiations.

The Kremlin added that there should be a "humanitarian corridor" in the Donetsk region, so international investigators have a safe and clear way to access the crash site. However, Putin did not make a public appeal to the separatists.

According to Reuters, Putin will meet with members of his Security Council on Tuesday to discuss defense issues — a move triggered by the reports of fighting in Donetsk. The Kremlin said in a statement that the council will discuss "safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation."