VIENNA, January 16. /TASS/. European security organization OSCE has refuted mass media reports that a number of countries have decided to pull out their observers from the monitoring mission currently deployed in Ukraine.
“In response to media reports, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine reaffirms that no participating States have withdrawn their monitors from the Mission in Ukraine,” the organization said in a press release.
“We continue to work closely with all OSCE participating States to ensure that their nationals seconded to the Mission operate in a safe and secure environment,” it quoted Alexander Hug, a deputy chief of the mission as saying. "In a rapidly changing environment we frequently update our security and operational capacity."
At the invitation of the monitoring mission, security experts from about twenty OSCE participating States took part in a visit this week to Ukraine including to the Donetsk Monitoring Team, the press release said.
"Security of staff is our number one priority,” Alexander Hug went on. “We co-operate with OSCE participating States on ensuring the safety of our monitors.”
“In this context, the SMM had invited the group of security experts from participating states to assess the situation on the ground and to witness how the Mission implements its operational and security procedures," he said.
The press release also contained reference to a statement that the mission made on Thursday, January 15.
“ […] the SMM also called upon all parties to immediately stop the fighting in the east, and withdraw heavy weapons and armed units from Donetsk airport and from all adjacent residential areas as agreed in the Minsk documents,” it said.
The OSCE stressed once again that the monitoring mission was standing ready to facilitate dialogue to further reduce the level of tension.