OSCE to send monitors to Ukraine for six months

Russia joins other 56 members of rights group in backing move aimed at de-escalating crisis

Ukraine’s acting foreign minister Andrii Deshchytsia looks on during a press conference after a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, Austria. Photograph: Georg Hochmuth/EPA.

Ukraine’s acting foreign minister Andrii Deshchytsia looks on during a press conference after a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna, Austria. Photograph: Georg Hochmuth/EPA.

Fri, Mar 21, 2014, 19:40

Russia joined the 56 other members of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) tonight in a consensus decision to send a six-month monitoring mission of the rights and security group to Ukraine.

The decision came after several failed attempts in recent weeks to agree on such an observer mission to help defuse the tense situation in the former Soviet republic. Western diplomats have blamed Russia for the delay in agreeing the mission.

The Kiev-based mission will initially consist of 100 civilian monitors but that number may later expand by another 400 personnel.

It will initially be deployed in nine places, including Donetsk, a major city in largely Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. The text of the decision does not mention Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine this week.

German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the OSCE’s decision was a step towards de-escalating the crisis in Ukraine.

“This is not yet the end of the crisis but a step that helps to support our de-escalation efforts,” he said in a statement, shortly after the decision of the 57-nation rights and security group was announced.

“The situation in Ukraine remains unstable and menacing. For this reason, the ( OSCE) observers must take up their work as quickly as possible,” said Mr Steinmeier, who is set to travel to Ukraine tomorrow.

Reuters