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Russia to take all steps to free detained OSCE observers

VIENNA, April 26 (Itar-Tass) - Detention of military observers from European countries near Slavyansk in Ukraine's Donetsk region hampers de-escalation of the conflict, believes Andrei Kelin, Russia's permanent representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

Russia was ready to assist to free them, he told reporters on Saturday.

"We believe the people must be freed as soon as possible," he said. "Russia as an OSCE member will take all possible steps for it."

"We do not know circumstances of what happened to them and where they are now, but we, as other members of the organization, are deeply concerned over the incident," the diplomat added.

"If they are detained, it will not contribute to defusing of tension at the site and will not help de-escalate the conflict."

Ukraine invited a group of observers in March, in accordance with the Vienna document, and responsible for their safety were those who invited the Ukrainian authorities, he noted.

As is known from media, observers made a bold attempt to go to the zone, where the situation was extremely tense and residents in the Donetsk region were on alert expecting an army operation to begin at any moment against peaceful protesters, the Russian diplomat noted.