President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine addresses the United Nations General Assembly in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., September 21, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri(reuters_tickers)
By John Irish
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko made a scathing attack on neighbouring Russia on Wednesday, accusing it of "lies and manipulations" that even Soviet leaders at the height of the Cold War had not dared.
Relations between Kiev and Moscow have never been worse since Russia annexed Crimea more than two years ago and Russian-backed separatist fighters subsequently took up arms against Ukrainian government forces in the east of the country.
Poroshenko used his speech at the annual gathering of world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly to accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of using "hybrid warfare" to fuel global insecurity.
"Over the last year the practice of hybrid warfare has only spread and its effort has been seen by the whole of Europe, America and beyond," Poroshenko said.
He said Russia has used "political pressure, propaganda, interference with electoral processes, economic coercion, secret subversive military operations, cyber attacks and the misuse of diplomatic measures. These are methods of undeclared war."
Kiev and Western countries accuse Russia of providing military backing to the insurgency in eastern Ukraine. Russia denies any direct role in the conflict.
Efforts to broker an end to fighting through the so-called Minsk agreements have so far failed. Violence increased over the summer months and Western powers fear peace efforts could unravel.
On Wednesday, Poroshenko renewed accusations that Russia finances, trains and supplies pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, while sending heavy weapons and Russian troops and mercenaries, to help fight Ukrainian forces loyal to the Kiev government.
"The Russian side continues at all forums including here at the U.N. to say they have nothing to do with all of this and the Russians are not in Ukraine," he said.
"No! They are there, and even the hypocritical Soviet leaders could hardly compete with the outright lies and manipulations deployed by the Kremlin today," he said.
Poroshenko has faced some criticism, including from France and Germany, the main sponsors of the Minsk accords, to do more to implement his side of the deal.
In his speech, however, Poroshenko said that he was doing his part and was still committed to reaching a peaceful solution.
"We have shown we are ready to move forward on the Minsk agreement," he said. "Yet we are constantly facing resistance by the Kremlin and its proxies who are doing their best to delay the peace process and shift responsibility for their own destructive action onto Ukraine."
(Reporting by John Irish; editing by Grant McCool)