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WASHINGTON, March 27. /TASS/. The United States urges Russia to facilitate in getting access for observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to eastern districts in Ukraine controlled by militias, US Army Commander in Europe Lt Gen Ben Hodges told TASS by phone on Thursday from his headquarters in Wiesbaden.
Underlining that the OSCE mission’s access to all parts in Donbas would ensure its more effective work in monitoring implementation of the Minsk agreements, Hodges said that until now the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission had a restricted access, about 50 to 70%, to the areas in eastern Ukraine while there were quite a few areas where the monitoring was unrestricted.
Russia’s more active steps in expanding the OSCE geography would drive confidence into implementation of the Minsk agreements, the US general said.
At present 460 OSCE observers are working in Ukraine, with over 300 out of them deployed in Donbas. The mission includes about 20 Russians.
Recently the OSCE permanent council has made a decision on a possible enlargement of the mission’s numerical strength up to 1,000 people, following a Russian initiative.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia had named another 15 candidacies for the OSCE mission in Ukraine, explaining that OSCE abides by the rules, established long ago, on forming international missions and "these rules exclude any discrimination over nationality or citizenship."