EU calls on Russia to grant OSCE observers access to Crimean peninsula

EU calls on Russia to grant OSCE observers access to Crimean peninsula

The Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) must be granted secure and unhindered access throughout Ukraine, including the illegally occupied Crimean peninsula and along the Ukraine-Russia state border.

The EU said this in a statement that was read out at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on Thursday, January 24, an Ukrinform correspondent reported.

"We strongly condemn impediments to the free, unhindered, safe and secure access of the SMM and reiterate that the SMM mandate allows for safe and secure access throughout Ukraine including the Crimean Peninsula and along the Ukraine-Russia state border," the statement reads.

The European Union expressed regret the SMM has been prevented from accessing the coastal line east of Mariupol, in areas controlled by Russia backed armed formations for over a year.

The statement also notes that the EU is yet to receive a substantial explanation from Russia regarding the downing of the SMM long-range UAV on October 27, 2018 close to the Ukraine-Russia border.

"We further underline that the operational, security and financial consequences of all obstructions must be assessed. Those responsible for any willful damage, destruction or loss of SMM UAVs and other assets should be held accountable, both politically and financially," the statement reads.

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