Russia backs OSCE monitors in Ukraine, excluding Crimea

A young boy sitting on the shoulders of an elderly man claps as people watch fire works in the center of the Crimean city of Simferopol on March 21, 2014. AFP PHOTO / DMITRY SEREBRYAKOV

MOSCOW: Russia on Saturday expressed hopes for the success of the OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine, while stressing the observers were excluded from Crimea after its takeover by Moscow.

"The Russian side hopes that objective and unbiased work by international observers will help overcome the crisis inside Ukraine," the Russian foreign ministry said in a statement.

But it said the "mission's mandate reflects the new political and legal realities and does not extend to Crimea and Sevastopol, which have become part of Russia."

Russia called for the OSCE monitors to help end the "rampant nationalist banditry" and "ultra-radical trends" in Ukraine.

Russia had earlier this week three times blocked the sending of a full OSCE observer mission to Ukraine. It dropped its objections after UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged President Vladimir Putin to back their deployment.

More than 50 military observers from the Vienna-based OSCE attempted to enter Crimea two weeks ago but were repeatedly barred entry at border checkpoints.





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