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Russian top diplomat believes OSCE may play important role in settling Ukrainian crisis

January 18, 13:29 UTC+3

Sergey Lavrov says the OSCE should remain an important platform for discussing approaches to all the key issues of the all-European agenda

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© Vyacheslav Prokofiev/TASS

MOSCOW, January 18. /TASS/. Russia and Austria are convinced that the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) may play an important role for settlement of crisis in Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told reporters on Wednesday.

"Austria is the current OSCE chair. We paid special attention to the issues of cooperation in this organization," Lavrov said after talks with his Austrian counterpart and the current OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Sebastian Kurz.

"Both Russia and Austria are convinced that the OSCE should remain an important platform for discussing approaches to all the key issues of the all-European agenda, we call for using the OSCE potential in the interests of assisting the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine," he said.

OSCE observers in Donbass

Lavrov went on to say that Russia has no objections to increasing the number of the OSCE observers in Donbass and providing them with an opportunity to carry firearms for self-defense.

"Russia is ready to increase the number of the OSCE observers deployed to the line of contact and to warehouses in Donbass," Lavrov said.

At the same time, the Russian top diplomat stressed that the idea of setting up a separate armed police mission contradicted the Minsk agreements.

"The control over the line of contact should be conducted 24 hours a day, it needs to be strengthened," Lavrov said adding that "Russia is ready to increase the number of the OSCE observers deployed to the line of contact and to warehouses in Donbass."

According to the Russian foreign minister, it "could help normalize the situation in the areas adjacent to the line of control as well as prevent the regular withdraw of heavy weapons from warehouses, which violates the Minsk agreements."

"This kind of violations are usually carried out by the Ukrainian military," Lavrov pointed out. "In the first weeks of January, over 600 weapons which had to remain in the Ukrainian military’s warehouses, were not to be found there while the number of weapons missing from the militias’ warehouses is no more than six or seven."

At the same time, the Russian top diplomat stressed that the idea of setting up a separate armed police mission, backed by Kiev, contradicted the Minsk agreements. "The Minsk agreements envisage that the status of Donbass and its right to have its own law enforcement agencies should be enshrined in Ukraine’s constitution," the Russian minister noted. "So there is no need to deploy a foreign armed mission to maintain order in Donbass."

However, Lavrov added that Russia had no objections to "unarmed OSCE observers accompanying the local law enforcement officers" during the preparations for the Donbass elections as well as during the voting, "so that they could see that security was being ensured."

"We are working on the Minsk agreements implementation encouraging everyone who signed them to fairly go their part of the way," Lavrov said.

"We don’t think how long the sanctions will last and are not seeking to please anyone and achieve the decision on their cancellation," he added. 

"The Minsk agreements are a package," Russia’s top diplomat noted. "Without compromises, it could not have been supported by the Ukrainian government, Donetsk, Lugansk, Russia, Germany and France. This is a compromise, and it must be honored. We are presently witnessing an attempt to erode this settlement and act under the following principle: what is mine is mine, and what is yours, let’s share it or discuss."

"We do know these manners," Lavrov said. "They are observed in the negotiation tactics used by a number of our Western counterparts. The Ukrainians are, apparently, good students."

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