WASHINGTON, February 26. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin have supported the initiative to extend the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine for one year, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic said on Wednesday.
"We succeeded in reaching an agreement on extending the [mission’s] mandate for full 12 months," Dacic said at a session of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Commission) in Washington, DC. Dacic discussed the SMM mandate with Lavrov and KLimkin in New York on Monday. Both sides confirmed that everything that has been agreed upon at the summit in Minsk remains in force, Dacic said.
He also stressed that OSCE will not only monitor ceasefire and withdrawal of forces and heavy weaponry, but also "act as a mediator" at a "political level". In particular, SMM head Ertugrul Apakan and OSCE special envoy to Contact Group on Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini will monitor issues that "include social and economic components," including gas and electricity supply, payment of salaries and pensions. OSCE observers will also coordinate talks with Ukrainian authorities on organizing local elections, carrying out constitutional reforms and ensuring border control, Dacic added.
The ceasefire regime in Ukraine, though fragile, mostly holds, he noted. Preventing the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis which could later turn into a larger confrontation is the main priority for OSCE, Dacic said. The organization is actively facilitating "diplomatic settlement" of the Ukrainian crisis, he added.
On Thursday, Dacic will meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the situation in Ukraine and OSCE work there.
The UN Security Council will discuss the situation in eastern Ukraine and assess the implementation of the ceasefire regime on February 27, a diplomatic source told a TASS correspondent on Wednesday.
Special envoy of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in the Contact Group on Ukraine Heidi Tagliavini is expected to participate in the meeting, the source added.
"Most likely, a meeting on Ukraine with participation of OSCE representative Heidi Tagliavini will take place on Friday morning [local time]," the source noted. No decision has been made yet on whether the meeting will be open, she added. "The format will be discussed," the diplomat said.
It is highly unlikely that the possibility of deploying peacekeepers in Ukraine will be discussed at the meeting, the source said. "Nothing points to a possibility of discussing UN peacekeepers," she noted.
On February 12, negotiations in the "Normandy format" were held in the Belarusian capital Minsk, bringing together Russian President Vladimir Putin, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The talks lasted for around 14 hours.
Simultaneously, a meeting of the Contact Group on Ukrainian settlement was held in Minsk, bringing together former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and Kiev’s special representative for humanitarian issues Viktor Medvedchuk, both representing the Ukrainian side, alongside representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), Denis Pushilin and Vladislav Deinego, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) special envoy to Ukraine, Heidi Tagliavini, and Russia’s ambassador to Ukraine, Mikhail Zurabov, who acts as a mediator.
As a result, a package of measures on implementing the Minsk agreements was adopted, including on ceasefire in separate areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions starting from February 15, heavy weaponry withdrawal and long-term political settlement of the Ukrainian crisis.