OSCE names monitor killed in Ukraine

OSCE names monitor killed in Ukraine

The US monitor, killed when a land mine blew up a vehicle carrying his OSCE monitoring team near the village of Pryshybin in the separatist Luhansk region (pictured) of eastern Ukraine, has been named.

Two European members of the mission were wounded, it was announced.

The mission’s deputy head, Alexander Hug, said paramedic Joseph Stone was the man killed and those wounded were from Germany and the Czech Republic.

It was the first death of a member of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Ukraine, where over 700 observers report on the three-year-old conflict that has strained ties between Russia and Nato and the EU.

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, who holds the rotating chair of the OSCE, tweeted “those responsible will be held accountable”.

OSCE mission ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, who visited the site of the explosion, said both sides needed to respect the much-violated 2015 Minsk peace agreement.

The monitoring mission assesses compliance with the 2015 Minsk peace deal that was to bring a ceasefire and remove heavy weaponry from the region. It conducts mine-awareness programmes.

“I reiterate my call for sustainable ceasefire, withdrawal of weapons, full de-mining and real commitment to peace. And I ask that those responsible for placing mines are held accountable,” Apakan said.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the US “again calls upon Russia to use its influence with the separatists to take the first step toward peace to eastern Ukraine and ensure a visible, verifiable and irreversible improvement in the security situation”.

“This death underscores the increasingly dangerous conditions under which these courageous monitors work, including access restrictions, threats and harassment. The United States urges Russia to use its influence with the separatists to allow the OSCE to conduct a full, transparent and timely investigation,” Toner said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the Kremlin would urge Ukrainian separatists to comply with the ceasefire.

Picture credit: Wikimedia

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