UNITED NATIONS - Western nations on Sunday accused Russia of massing tens of thousands of well-equipped troops near the Ukrainian border in preparation for a Crimea-style invasion, while Russia denounced what it said was Ukraine's Russophobic, anti-Semitic leadership.
"Satellite images show that there are between 35,000 and 40,000 Russian troops in the vicinity of the border with Ukraine, equipped with combat aircraft, tanks, artillery and logistical support units," Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said. "This is in addition to the 25,000 Russia troops based illegally in Crimea," Lyall Grant added in his speech during an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine.
French Ambassador Gerard Araud echoed Lyall Grant's remarks.
The meeting of the 15-nation council, the first emergency session on the Ukrainian crisis in weeks, was convened at Russia's request. Council diplomats said Moscow wanted it to be a closed meeting by France and other Western insisted that it be a public session.
The council has held numerous emergency meetings on Ukraine but has been incapable of taking concrete action because of Russia's sharp disagreements with the United States and Europe.
Last month Russia vetoed a Western draft resolution that would have condemned Crimea's referendum on secession from Ukraine, held when it was already occupied by Russian military forces.
As expected, the council took no action on Sunday.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin dismissed the criticisms of Russia's actions in Ukraine, telling the council, "Many inaccurate accusations were made against Russia."
He blamed the Kiev government for the unrest across southeastern Ukraine and described its threatened military operation in the region as a "criminal use of force."
He was referring to Ukraine's ultimatum to pro-Russian separatists to disarm by Monday or face armed force. "Things might take an irreversible turn for the worst,"Churkin said about the ultimatum, without elaborating.
"The authorities (in Ukraine) do not want to listen to those who do not accept the imposed dominance in Kiev of national radicals and chauvinists, Russophobic, anti-Semitic forces," he said. "The grotesque Russophobia and embedded hatred has become the norm in the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) as well."