Moscow, Paris, Berlin want more OSCE observers in E.Ukraine - Russia's rep
A follow-up meeting on the Minsk accords has urged to boost the number of OSCE observers in eastern Ukraine and prolong their mission, said Grigory Karasin, Russia’s deputy foreign minister. Kiev's idea of sending peacekeepers did not gain much support.
"Ukraine's authorities often cannot deliver on what was agreed in Minsk," Karasin said after the meeting. "We are worried that the launch of the political process is being delayed, while the social and economic conditions deteriorate."
"We'd like much quicker progress," he added.
Karasin was speaking after the meeting of the representatives of the ‘Normandy Four’ group – Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany, which took place in Berlin on Friday. Conducted at the level of top diplomats, the forum is referred to as the contact group.
The foreign ministers of the ‘Normandy Four’ states recommended the mandate of the OSCE (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Monitoring Mission to Ukraine be prolonged and the number of observers be extended, he said.
"We have agreed to recommend to extend the mandate of the OSCE mission, expand the number of its members and provide it with the necessary hardware and equipment,” Karasin told reporters.
Later quotes from agencies said the agreement was made on consensus, with the Ukrainian party promoting the idea of deploying peacekeeping forces to the conflict zone. But according to Karasin, France and Germany shared Russia’s lack of enthusiasm at the proposal.
“A peacekeeping operation is a rather complicated international affair, which is directly related to the ruling by the UN Security Council. All the participants of today's meeting – except the Ukrainian representative – agreed that we now need to concentrate on strengthening role of the OSCE mission and contact group,” he said.
Moscow and Kiev have agreed to double the number of OSCE
observers from 500 to 1,000 to monitor a ceasefire in
southeastern Ukraine, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the German foreign
minister, said during his visit to the Latvian capital of Riga.
Steinmeier added the OSCE should get access to locations where heavy weapons are being stored by both sides, Reuters reported.
OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier expressed hope that the decision to extend the mandate of the Organization’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine for another year will be made at the OSCE Permanent Council next week.
The decision has to be made as soon as possible because "the previous mandate ends on March 21," he told RIA Novosti.
According to Zannier, the issue of increasing the number of OSCE observers to Ukraine can only be discussed after the mandate is prolonged.
The Ukrainian conflict began in April 2014, after Kiev sent its military to the south eastern regions which refused to recognize the new coup-imposed authorities in the capital.
The fighting has seen over 6,000 killed and nearly 15,000 injured, the UN Human Rights Office said on Monday.
With the assistance of ‘Normandy Four,’ the sides reached a peace deal in Belarusian capital Minsk on February 12.
The OSCE is speaking of general progress made by both Kiev and anti-government forces in fulfilling the agreement, with violations of the ceasefire on the decline, and withdrawal of heavy weapons also underway.