Russia agrees to monitoring mission in Ukraine

Russian Crimeans celebrated the peninsula's annexation to Russia on Friday Keystone

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe has been given the go-ahead to send a six-month monitoring mission to Ukraine after Russia joined the 56 other members of the OSCE on Friday in a consensus decision.

This content was published on March 21, 2014 - 21:43 and agencies

“Consensus on the mandate could be reached today due to the readiness of all participating States to continue dialogue and search for compromise even under difficult circumstances,” said the organisation’s chairman, Swiss President Didier Burkhalter, in a statement.

“All sides will benefit from this decision,” he pointed out. “Once more, the OSCE has proven to be a vital framework to foster dialogue, identify common ground, and accomplish meaningful results despite differences.”

“The OSCE and the Swiss Chairmanship”, Burkhalter added, “will continue their efforts to rebuild bridges and find cooperative solutions to the major political and security challenges that Europe is now confronted with.”

The decision came after several failed attempts in recent weeks to agree on such an observer mission to help defuse the tense situation in the former Soviet republic. Western diplomats have blamed Russia for the delay in agreeing the mission.

The OSCE works on consensus. Russia's approval could signify a slight de-escalation of tensions.

Pro-Russian forces last week stopped OSCE military observers from entering Crimea. That team was requested by Ukraine and its formation did not need Russian approval.

The Kiev-based mission will initially consist of at least 100 civilian monitors but that number may later expand by another 400 personnel.

It will initially be deployed in nine places, including Donetsk, a major city in largely Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine. The text of the decision does not mention Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine this week.

The mission’s mandate is to gather information and report on the security situation as well as establish and report facts regarding incidents. It will also monitor the human rights situation in the country, including the rights of minorities.

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