“This is an important initiative of the Russian side in development of the Berlin Declaration of July 2, when ministers of the four countries (Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine) said jointly that they are ready to consider issues and contribute to sending a special OSCE group of monitors to the Gukovo and Donetsk checkpoints,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said.
The group will be dispatched “to monitor the situation while staying on Russian territory,” he said.
The Gukovo border-crossing point was shelled by Ukrainian security officials in early July. Similar incidents at other checkpoints were reported earlier in July and in late June.
During the military operation, conducted since mid-April, Kiev has used armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. According to Ukraine’s Health Ministry, 478 civilians have been killed and 1,392 wounded in it. Many buildings have been destroyed and tens of thousands of people have had to flee Ukraine’s embattled Southeast.
South Ossetia has recognized the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic. No other countries have followed suit so far.
Karasin also said that the decision to send the OSCE monitors took efforts to make. “The discussion was tense, but the decision was made as a result. This is extremely important,” he said.
The diplomat said that there is “an unspoken agreement that this group of monitors should consist of nationals of Germany, France and Switzerland.”
“We will be waiting for a decision on the group’s composition and terms of its arrival at Gukovo and Donetsk,” he said.
“We hope this decision will bring greater transparency and confidence of the international community that Russia is really taking specific measures to reduce tensions in the vicinity of the border, is ready for transparency and ready to do its best to contribute to a ceasefire,” Karasin said.