The United Nations expressed concern Wednesday over footage purporting to show Ukrainian troops using a helicopter painted with the organization's colors and insignia.
Russian news website Life News reported that three U.N.-painted Mil Mi-24 combat helicopters and one Mi-8 transport helicopter had been spotted assisting government troops in eastern Ukraine. The footage could not be independently verified by NBC News.
LIfe News is officially independent but reportedly has ties to Russian security services. It posted a video of one of the Mil Mi-24 helicopters and the raw footage was posted to YouTube by the Russian state-run broadcaster Russia Today.
Ukraine has provided equipment to several U.N. peacekeeping missions, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to Russia's Itar-Tass news agency.
A U.N. spokesperson told NBC News that the helicopters seen by Life News may have been aircraft used on these missions that had not been repainted on their return. This would be a violation of the U.N.'s agreement with its member states.
"We are concerned, and we have made our concerns clear about these reports," said Farhan Haq, deputy spokesperson for U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon. "We are in contact with Ukrainian authorities on the issue.
He added: "It is the responsibility of U.N. member states to remove all logos and signs bearing the U.N.'s name once such equipment has been repatriated to the home country or is no longer being used for official U.N. purposes."
LifeNews said the footage was shot near Kramatorsk, in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. On Tuesday, seven Ukrainian troops were killed near the city after a firefight with pro-Russian separatists occupying the region.
First published May 14 2014, 5:08 AM
Alexander Smith is a staff reporter at NBCNews.com based in London. He started work there in August 2013, and is responsible for finding, verifying, and writing breaking stories. He moved to NBC News from its standalone startup BreakingNews.com, where he was a breaking news editor. Before Breaking News, he was a reporter in the regional press where he covered crime and courts.
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