'Weapons from NATO would aid war crimes in Ukraine'

Russia says weaponry from NATO states will abet war crimes in Ukraine and worsen the situation.

FILE: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the SCO Heads of State Council meeting at the Navruz palace in Dushanbe on 12 September, 2014. Picture: AFP.

MOSCOW - Russian Parliamentary Speaker Sergei Naryshkin said on Tuesday any deliveries of weapons from NATO countries to Kiev would be abetting war crimes being committed in eastern Ukraine.

Earlier this month, a senior Ukrainian official said Kiev had agreed on the provision of weapons and military advisers from several members of the US-led alliance. Four of the five countries named, including the United States, denied this.

"We have heard from various sources that the Kiev regime has been promised deliveries of weapons and military hardware from various countries of the bloc, which already threatens to become an open intervention in the internal affairs of Ukraine and, to put it directly, to abet war crimes that are being committed there," Interfax quoted Naryshkin as saying at a ceremony to open the autumn session of the lower house of parliament.

NATO officials have said it will not send "lethal assistance" to non-member Ukraine but member states may do so.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Valery Heletey said Kiev had made agreements with NATO states and that deliveries of weapons to "stop" President Vladimir Putin were on their way.

Russia has accused Ukraine of shelling civilian quarters in its fight against pro-Russian separatists in the east and has pointed to a recent Amnesty International report that documents evidence of human rights abuses by Ukraine's Aidar Battalion.

Amnesty International said there has been evidence of war crimes on both sides of the conflict, including the rebels, who Kiev and the West say are supported openly by Russian troops.

A ceasefire negotiated by envoys from Ukraine, Russia, the separatists and Europe's OSCE security watchdog has been in place in eastern Ukraine since 5 September. It is broadly holding despite regular but sporadic violations.