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Calming tensions


Russia requests OSCE observers at Ukrainian border




Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has written to Swiss President Didier Burkhalter – who’s heading the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) this year – to invite OSCE monitors to observe two border crossings between Ukraine and Russia.

In a statement, the Russian foreign ministry called the move a sign of goodwill in the ongoing conflict between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists. Ukrainian leaders had accused Russia of supporting violence in eastern Ukraine by letting weapons and fighters over the border between the countries. And on Monday, they accused Russian troops of shooting down a transport plane over Ukranian territory.

"In connection with the worsening situation in the region where Kiev is carrying out its military operation in the southeast of Ukraine, the Russian side, in the order of goodwill and without waiting for a ceasefire, is inviting OSCE observers to checkpoints ... on the Russian-Ukrainian border," the Russian Foreign Ministry statement said.

In response to Ukraine’s call for independent monitors at Russian-Ukranian border crossings, the Russian foreign ministry asked that OSCE monitors be placed at border points at Donetsk and Gukovo.

The request comes after the Swiss-led OSCE scaled back operations in eastern Ukraine following the kidnapping of two groups of its observers by pro-Russian separatists. Both groups were later released.  

The OSCE is attempting to implement a roadmap to peace in Ukraine that involves high-level roundtable discussions, dialogues and plans for a cease-fire leading to a truce. 

swissinfo.ch and agencies