OSCE evacuates international monitors from Ukraine
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) announced on Thursday evening that it will evacuate members of its monitoring mission from Ukraine after Russia launched a military attack in the country.
“Due to the ongoing fighting and the deteriorated security situation in Ukraine … I have decided to temporarily evacuate all international mission members from Ukraine as soon as possible,” OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid said in a statement.
“The safety of the dedicated women and men who serve as impartial eyes and ears of the international community on the ground throughout the country is imperative,” she added.
OSCE monitors were deployed to eastern Ukraine in 2014 to record ceasefire violations along the so-called ‘contact line’ separating the Ukrainian Army and the forces of two breakaway republics in the Donbass region.
Russia recognized the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR) as independent states on Monday, citing what it argued was Kiev’s inability to implement the ceasefire. Russia also accused Ukraine of shelling the DPR and LPR.
President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that the Russian military began hitting military targets in Ukraine to protect the people of the Donbass. He added that he seeks the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine.
Kiev has denied violating the ceasefire and said that attacks from Russia were unprovoked.
On Thursday, Ukraine said it was cutting all diplomatic ties with Russia and appealed to its Western and other allies to respond more harshly to Moscow.