OSCE monitors visit flashpoint village in eastern Ukraine

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OSCE monitors visit the eastern Ukrainian village of Shyrokyne, close to the strategic port of Mariupol. The village has been the latest flashpoint in a year-long conflict that has left more than 6,000 people dead.

OSCE monitors visit flashpoint village in eastern Ukraine

(For context):

OSCE chief says ‘good chance for peace’ in Ukraine

/ Vilnius (Lithuania) – 20 April 2015 11:23 – AFP / INTERVIEW

/ WAW – UNR – POL – CLJ – 403 Words / Ukraine Russia crisis OSCE / PAW-GL , AFW-GL , MEW-GL , EUW-GL , MAX-GL , ANA-GL 20 April 2015

The OSCE chief said Monday a truce was holding in a key village in eastern Ukraine and urged rival sides to “embrace a good chance for peace” in the war-torn region.

“The news this morning is that our people, our monitors have brokered a truce in Shyrokyne, down near Mariupol,” OSCE secretary general Lamberto Zannier said.

“And this truce seems to be holding,” he told AFP in an interview during a visit to Lithuania’s capital Vilnius.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe sent a monitoring mission to Ukraine in March 2014.

Close to the strategic port of Mariupol, Shyrokyne has been the latest flashpoint in a year-long conflict that has left more than 6,000 people dead.

Zannier said there were still challenges ahead to secure peace but added that “all in all the situation is better than it was few weeks back”.

“There is a good chance for peace at this moment and we need to invest as much as we can in this. But there is always a risk of relapse in the conflict,” Zannier said.

In February, leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine brokered the so-called Minsk II truce between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian government forces in the east of the former Soviet state.

The United Sttes and the 28-member European Union insist its full implementation is a key prerequisite for the lifting of sanctions against Russia imposed after its March 2014 annexation of Crimea and alleged meddling in eastern Ukraine.

“Heavy weapons have been largely withdrawn” from the agreed truce line in the conflict zone, Zannier said, adding that the focus could shift on “withdrawing other categories of smaller weapons because they are still actively used in this violations of the ceasefire”.

He said the number of its observers in Ukraine would increase to “at least 600 by the beginning of the summer” from the current level below 500.

The OSCE now is recruiting officials with military background, Zannier said. He also downplayed Russian claims that the arrival of US paratroopers in Ukraine on a training mission could reignite the conflict.

Zannier was in Vilnius to attended an international conference focused on the role of women in international peace and security.

Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite warned that women in eastern Ukraine face unprecedented levels of violence.

“In the occupied parts of Ukraine gender-based violence has reached alarming levels. Women face physical and sexual abuse,” she warned.

vab-mas/txw

Tags : Ukraine, eastern, village, flashpoint, visit, Monitors, Osce

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