OSCE neglects its mandate in Ukraine – Moscow
In its latest report, the mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said its monitors are unable to verify the withdrawal until both Kiev and the rebels provide comprehensive “inventories, withdrawal routes and concentration points” for their respective arsenals.
The rebels say they have sent an inventory to the OSCE and that the observers are rejecting invitations to witness the actual movements of the weapons.
“Every day they have new conditions to put forward. For instance, [on Thursday] they demanded a concrete route for the artillery. Well, that heavy hardware doesn't travel on the roads, but OSCE monitors wouldn't care to go into the fields,” complained Eduard Basurin, a rebel spokesman.
The official added that the anti-government forces are not rejecting the OSCE's role in tackling the withdrawal and that they want an increased presence of the monitors on the ground.
“We believe the OSCE's role is crucial. Once again we confirm that we are interested in OSCE presence at all weapons-withdrawal events. The OSCE must be present to monitor the withdrawal of the weapons by both sides," Basurin said.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said Moscow regretted that the monitoring mission “showed a lack of proper effort to execute the functions entrusted to it” and avoids monitoring the withdrawal of weapons.
Meanwhile, the OSCE is concerned with the fact that Kiev is not withdrawing weaponry from the demarcation line in Donbass, the Russian Ambassador to the organization, Andrey Kelin, said, RIA Novosti reported. “Ukrainian military forces keep silent for the moment being. They don’t pull out their heavy weaponry and say that a pause is needed. That is what really triggers certain concern of the OSCE as this pause may last indefinitely.” According to Kelin, Donbass self-defense forces said over two days ago that they were ready "to grant access for the mission to the locations where guarded weapons would be stored.”
The OSCE confirmed that the number of reported violations of the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine has decreased. It added that a joint group of military monitors, which includes representatives from Ukraine, the rebel forces and Russia, provided a map of the conflict zone with “a definite line of contact agreed upon by all,” which can be viewed as a step forward in ending the violence.
Most complaints filed lately came from villages near Donetsk airport and the town of Shyrokoye, some 25km east of Mariupol, said the report.
The continued violence close to Mariupol, a large port under government control, is arguably the greatest danger to the fragile truce in Ukraine. Kiev accuses its opponents of preparing a full-scale invasion of the city, an accusation the rebels deny.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius warned on Wednesday that an attack on Mariupol would derail the entire peace process and demanded that Moscow prevent it.
"We've told the Russians clearly that if there was a separatist attack in the direction of Mariupol things would be drastically altered, including in terms of sanctions," Fabius said in an interview with France Info radio station.
He also commented on UK's plan to send military instructors to train Ukrainian troops, a step that’s escalating tension between Russia and the West over Ukraine.
“The Britons, who are not part of the discussions, have taken a hardline stance on the situation,” Fabius said in reference to British PM David Cameron's Tuesday announcement. “We have also taken a firm position, but are pushing for the de-escalation of the conflict."
France, along with Germany, was a major driving European power involved in brokering the Minsk peace deal in mid-February. Meanwhile in Britain and the US a large number of officials advocate for providing military aid to Kiev, which they say would serve as deterrent to Russia.
Moscow says the proposed inflow of weapons and the unwillingness of Kiev's foreign sponsors to put pressure on them and make them hold fire only aggravates the situation.
Britain's decision to send troops to Ukraine was hailed on Wednesday by Polish President Bronisław Komorowski, who said it was a step in the right direction and that Poland is keeping its own options open to help Kiev.
Germany said it is not planning to send troops or sell weapons to Kiev.