Kyiv, November 20, 2014. The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine is continuing to monitor the security situation in eastern Ukraine and in other regions of the country. The OSCE continues to monitor the ceasefire between the Ukrainian government and rebels according to the Minsk Protocol signed in September. The OSCE will also expand its mission in the near future by introducing more international monitors to the country. This was stated at Ukraine Crisis Media Center by Ertugrul Apakan, Chief Monitor of the OSCE special monitoring mission to Ukraine, and Michael Bociurkiw, the spokesperson for the mission.
At the moment, forensic evidence about the MH17 tragedy is in the process of collection and transportation to the Netherlands for investigation. OSCE also plans to expand the current number of monitors in Ukraine from 300 to 400 by March of next year, stated Apakan. The current mission of 300 monitors consists of individuals from 40 different countries. No single country represents more than 10 percent of the overall mission.
Apakan appeared to push back at recent Ukrainian government statements and independent articles that are critical of the OSCE mission and the background of monitors. “Our monitors have valuable skills and experience from previous conflicts,” said Apakan. Many monitors operate in tense and dangerous environment. “They establish facts and report in an impartial and accurate manner,” added Apakan. Bociurkiw criticized some recent media reports about the organization’s mission in Ukraine, which he described as inaccurate. He stated that reporters should contact the mission’s press office before writing material that misrepresents OSCE. Bociurkiw also commented on reports that OSCE monitors had been fired upon in eastern Ukraine, stating that at the moment the organization is unsure who was responsible for the act.
OSCE expressed its concern about the ongoing security situation in Ukraine. Sporadic fighting continues in eastern Ukraine, and locals are still becoming displaced by fighting. Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced people are in Ukraine. “We are concerned about vulnerable groups in the conflict zone and the hundreds of thousands displaced throughout Ukraine,” said Apakan. “Most of the displaced people are elderly women, women, and children.” The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine promises to continue monitoring the developments in the country, and is committed to ensuring successful adherence to the Minsk Protocol and roadmap to peace.