Ukraine and Russia are pointing the finger at each other for Thursday morning’s fatal shelling of a bus stop in Donetsk, which many sources say killed over a dozen civilians.
Ukraine’s defence ministry accused separatists of being responsible, saying the location was more than 15 kilometres from where Ukrainian forces were deployed. It claimed the shelling originated from the city’s residential areas, which were controlled by “illegal armed formations”.
Ukrainian military spokesman Andriy Lysenko was quoted as saying that the bus stop was shelled by a mortar.
At a pre-scheduled ceremony in Kyiv the country’s prime minister went further, laying the blame squarely on Moscow.
“Russian terrorists have today committed another horrible act against humanity. And responsibility for that lies with the Russian Federation,” Arseniy Yatsenyuk told reporters.
His comments were later published on the Ukrainian government's website.
Russia has accused Ukraine’s forces of being behind the shelling.
In a statement, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov described it as a “crime against humanity”, an act of “gross provocation” designed to undermine the peace process.
Speaking on Wednesday before the attack during talks in Berlin, Russia’s top diplomat said Ukraine needed to pull its forces back from the front line for a ceasefire to be effective.
The rebels had removed weapons, he said; Kyiv had to follow suit.
Growing concern for civilians caught up in the fighting in eastern Ukraine brought thousands out onto the streets of Kyiv last Sunday.
Those marching in the Ukrainian capital called for peace – shocked in particular at last week’s shelling of a civilian bus that killed a dozen people.
In the latest weekly update from the OSCE observer mission (the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe), international monitors said they had not observed military movement at the two Russia-Ukraine border points they have been surveying.
On Monday Ukraine accused Russia of sending more troops into the country, accusations Moscow again denied.