OSCE prolongs Ukraine mission for a year, doubles observer numbers

Reuters / Gleb Garanich

Reuters / Gleb Garanich

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has decided to extend the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine for one year, as well as increase the potential number of its observers to up to 1,000 people.

“The decision was adopted today [by OSCE member states]. The
mission can now have a size of up to 1,000 according to the
circumstances. The mandate was also extended to March 31,
spokeswoman Mersiha Podzic said, as quoted by AFP.

The decision was backed by all 57 OSCE member states during a
Thursday session at the organization’s Vienna headquarters.

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Funding of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) was one of the
main issues discussed at the meeting. As the responsibilities of
the mission have broadened under the Minsk-2 agreement, OSCE
member states need to increase their contributions, an OSCE
source said, according to RIA Novosti.

The total budget of the mission had been earlier estimated at
about €85 million (US$90 million).

The new tasks of the OSCE monitors are based on the February
agreements of the Normandy Four group in Minsk – including the
monitoring of ceasefire implementation in eastern Ukraine and the
pull-out of all heavy weapons by both sides.

Alexander Hug, deputy chief of the OSCE’s Special Monitoring
Mission, said in Kiev earlier on Thursday that the ceasefire is
on “thin ice.”

“The ceasefire holds broadly along the long contact
in the Donbass region, with crossfire continuing in
some places but at “a lower level,” Hug said, according
to AFP.

“In general it is positive that most of this fighting is
being conducted with small arms and smaller calibre weapons and
it’s an indication that heavy weapons have actually been
withdrawn and are not being used as often,”
he said.

Last week, OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine spokesman
Michael Bociurkiw reported that the number of ceasefire
violations in war-torn eastern Ukraine was dropping, though the
withdrawal of heavy armaments by both sides of the conflict
couldn’t be confirmed.

On Thursday, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated that Moscow
regards “the way Kiev fulfills its obligations under the
Minsk agreements as a measure of its real attitude towards the
possibility of a political regulation of the Ukrainian

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Commenting on the results of the Thursday session, Russian
Ambassador to the OSCE Andrey Kelin said the adoption of a
political resolution in support of the OSCE mission was sabotaged
by US and Ukrainian diplomats and reduced to a technical
decision, TASS reported.

Kelin said the amendments suggested by the Ukrainian side were
aimed at rewriting the Minsk agreements.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine broke out last spring, when Kiev
sent its military to crack down on militias in the Donbass
region. Over 6,000 lives have been lost and more than 290,000
have been forced to flee into Russia alone.

RT’s Roman Kosarev spoke with a family from Donetsk which lost a
four-year-old child and has since sought refuge in Moscow:


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