U.S. to Russia: OSCE mission not a bargaining chip
According to Ukrinform, Charge d'Affaires at the U.S. Mission to the OSCE Elisabeth Rosenstock-Siller said this at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council on Thursday, October 28.
"We are relieved protests outside the SMM monitors' hotel in Donetsk city have ceased and patrolling has resumed. The international community depends on the reports of SMM monitors, but their safety is paramount. If Russia has a dispute with Ukraine, it should be resolved diplomatically. The multinational SMM is not a bargaining chip," she said.
The U.S. diplomat also noted that this latest incident is also "a perfect illustration of why Russia should return to the Joint Control and Coordination Commission, or JCCC." This would be "an important step towards implementation of a durable ceasefire," she said.
"Notwithstanding the conclusion of the protests, we call on Russia to allow the SMM to fulfill its mandate and monitor throughout Ukraine, which includes the Russia-controlled parts of the Donbas and Russia-occupied Crimea. Russia must stop obstructing SMM patrols, jamming UAV flights, and tampering with SMM cameras," Rosenstock-Siller said.
She also added that unrestricted SMM movements within Russia-controlled territory in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, across the line of contact and across the so-called inter-region boundary line "should be the norm, not the exception."
On October 13, Russian occupation forces resorted to a gross provocation as an armed group wearing armbands of the Joint Center for Control and Coordination were caught red-handed on a reconnaissance mission under the guise of a demining effort near the abandoned positions of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. One of the group members, Russian national Andrey Kosyak born in 1978, was detained on the spot. Weapons and ammunition were seized from him. Ukraine's law enforcement agencies suspect the man of committing a serious crime in 2010 in accordance with Article 115 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine
After that, on October 15, the Russian occupation administration in Donetsk staged a "protest" in front of the hotel where OSCE SMM members reside, criticizing the SMM's activities and specifically events that occurred inside the disengagement area near Zolote on October 13, when a member of the armed formations was reportedly detained by the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
On October 17, Russian-backed forces blocked the exit from the OSCE SMM's forward patrol base in the temporarily occupied city of Horlivka. Observers were also not allowed to leave the hotel. OSCE monitors were told that "they were not allowed to leave the hotel premises until the member of the armed formations reportedly detained by the Ukrainian Armed Forces inside the disengagement area near Zolote on 13 October had been released."
The OSCE SMM resumed patrolling from its base in Horlivka in the afternoon on October 18.
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