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OSCE sees Russia as valuable member, says Italian top diplomat

Russia is a key member of the OSCE, the diplomat stressed

MILAN, December 7. /TASS/. Member countries of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) see Russia as a valuable member of the organization, Italian Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi stated on the outcomes of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Milan.

"Russia is a key member of the OSCE, and we have heard some positions today [concerning the incident in the Kerch Strait], and discussion is a normal element of our work dynamic. We are confident that by working together, we will find a solution," the Italian minister said. He added that the OSCE "is not a platform for confrontation, it’s the platform that exists to smooth things over."

For his part, Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak, who receives the chairmanship from his Italian colleague for next year’s council, stated that the session has exceeded expectations. "All of us arrived under the impression of the events [in the Kerch Strait], but we all agree that this is a common platform for dialogue, however difficult it may be. If OSCE did not exist, this platform would not exist. We have made progress on several issues," Lajcak said.

During the two-day session, some of the countries accused Russia of breaching international law and acting as an "aggressor" in relation to the Ukrainian conflict, Crimea’s forming part of Russia, and tensions with Georgia.

Kerch Strait incident

On November 27, Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, endorsed President Pyotr Poroshenko’s decree on imposing a 30-day martial law from November 28 in the Vinnitsa, Lugansk, Nikolayevsk, Odessa, Sumy, Kharkov, Chernigov, Donetsk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions, as well as Ukraine’s territorial waters in the Sea of Azov. Initially, Poroshenko sought to impose martial law for 60 days, but this put into question holding the March presidential elections and sparked a public outcry.

The pretext for the decision to declare martial law was an incident in the Kerch Strait on November 25, when three Ukrainian warships, en route from Odessa to Mariupol, illegally crossed Russia’s state border, entered Russia’s territorial waters and started performing dangerous maneuvers.

Despite the repeated warnings and demands to stop, the Ukrainian vessels continued their way, forcing Russia to use weapons. All three Ukrainian ships were detained in the Black Sea. Three Ukrainian servicemen were slightly wounded and received medical assistance, and their lives are not under threat. A criminal case has been launched over the violation of Russia’s state border. Moscow slammed the incident as a provocation.

Twenty-four Ukrainian sailors have been detained in Russia until January 25, 2019.