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Envoy says OSCE concerned about Donbass blockade

Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office at the Contact Group, Martin Sajdik, has voiced concern over the blockade of the Donbass region, saying that these dangerous developments should be stopped.

"I want to express my personal disappointment and concern over the situation that does not contribute to the success of the Minsk process but, rather, exacerbates tensions between the parties and has an adverse effect on the process of mutual rapprochement and cooperation. These dangerous developments should be stopped. I hope it will be possible to find ways and methods to rectify the situation," he said commenting on the issue after a Contact Group meeting.

Earlier in the day, Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council decided to suspend cargo transport links with the Donbass territories uncontrolled by Kiev. The ban will be in effect until points 1 and 2 (ending the hostilities and withdrawing weapons) of the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements of February 12, 2015, are complied with and the nationalized enterprises are returned to Ukraine's jurisdiction. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry noted that the ban will not affect civilians who will be able to transport goods for personal use.

The security of OSCE observers

"Security of the OSCE SMM staff members and property arouse huge concern along with existing restrictions on the freedom of movement by the SMM members," Sajdik said.

At the previous meeting, the Contact Group came forward with a statement to ensure security and reliable conditions so that the observers would be able to fulfil their mandate, he added.

"On March 1, the negotiating sides discussed OSCE staff's security and confirmed their respect for the organization's status," he said. "Unfortunately, the situation has not improved in this aspect. On the contrary, it has somehow deteriorated."

Since autumn 2014, the Contact Group on the settlement in Donbass has agreed more than ten ceasefires but none lasted for long, with Ukrainian troops repeatedly breaking them down and opening fire at the DPR's territories from heavy weapons that are to have been withdrawn from the line of engagement in line with the Minsk agreements.

[Source: Itar Tass, Minsk, 15Mar17]

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