Twelve people have been killed Friday in shelling in the east Ukrainian city of Donetsk, an official with the pro-separatist City Council said, as the conflict between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian separatist escalated in the past week. Until now the fighting has largely been concentrated on the outskirts of the city near the airport. But on Friday, the blasts moved significantly closer to the city center, where there are no obvious military targets. Presenting his annual report Friday at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said 2014 had been a “black year” for European security. Russia is following a “disturbing pattern,” he said, “using military force to annex Crimea, destabilise eastern Ukraine and intimidate its neighbours” in disregard of international law.
In a statement, the council strongly condemned “the indiscriminate shelling of the residential areas, especially in Mariupol and the recent escalation of fighting in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. It said it was shocked by the high number of casualties, adding: “It notes evidence of continued and growing support given to the separatists by Russia, which underline Russia’s responsibility.” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said Friday that it was “disappointed” by the council’s decisions on sanctions and accuses it of bias in favour of Kiev, saying it was hostage to an “aggressive minority” that is opposed to Russia. “It’s time for the European Union to realise the futility of the sanctions standoff that only hurts people and our economies,” the ministry said in a statement.