Russia does not want war over Ukraine: UN envoy

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - Moscow's ambassador to the United Nations told an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Thursday that Russia does not want war over the Ukraine crisis.

"Russia does not want war and nor do the Russians," ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the Council following an address by visiting Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

His speech came after Western powers delivered a stinging rebuke of Moscow's actions in Ukraine and condemned a planned referendum in Crimea on Sunday to decide whether to join Russia.

Mr Churkin hit back with a scathing attack on his counterparts' assessment of the crisis and reiterated Moscow's position that Ukraine's president had been unconstitutionally deposed.

He also ridiculed remarks from other ambassadors which he said painted an "idyllic situation," adding ironically: "If it hadn't been for evil Russia, everyone in Ukraine would live long and happy lives."

He defended the referendum as arising from a legal vacuum in Crimea, which itself was the result of the "unconstitutional overthrow of the government in Kiev" last month.

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