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Russian FM: Kiev’s punitive operation in Slavyansk put OSCE observers’ lives at risk

MOSCOW, May 03. /ITAR-TASS/. The Kiev authorities put the lives of military observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) at risk by starting a punitive operation against peaceful people in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, May 3.

“None of the more or less prepared analyst had any doubt that these observers were sent to Slavyansk by the Ukrainian side and their well-known sponsors in order to create a new pocket of tensions and thus escalate the situation and draw European states into the international Ukrainian conflict,” Foreign Ministry deputy spokesperson Maria Zakharova said.

“Not only did the Kiev clique fail to think about the security of the inspectors but it also directly threatened their lives by starting a punitive operation against the peaceful residents of Slavyansk,” she said.

“Only a noble and responsible position of the local self-defence forces’ leaders, who agreed to release the inspectors promptly without preconditions amid the deteriorating situation, basically saved the foreigners’ lives. In fact, it’s obvious that no one can be guaranteed against anything during a massive army operation,” Zakharova said.

The concoctions that the observers’ capture was orchestrated by Moscow, which are actively circulating in Ukrainian mass media, “are not a reflection of the inflamed imagination of Kiev dummies but a thoroughly considered action against the observers they invited themselves”, she said.

Self-defence forces in Slavyansk helped to release the OSCE military observers to keep them away from Kiev’s punitive operation in the south-eastern regions of the country, the Foreign Ministry said.

Responding to requests from the OSCE and European leaders, Russia took energetic steps over the past several days to secure the release of the military observers detained by local militia on April 25.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his special envoy Vladimir Lukin to the region to mediate the talks on their release. The mission resulted in the release of the OSCE observers. Lukin took them to Donetsk.

“This step was taken by the Slavyansk self-defence forces despite Kiev’s purposeful escalation of the internal conflict at a time when the peaceful city is under a direct and unmotivated attack involving the Armed Forces and Right Sector militants clad in National Guard uniform. Undoubtedly, this testifies to the courage and humanism of the city defenders. They showed their care about the security of foreign citizens so that they were not affected by the punitive operation,” the ministry said.