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Polish OSCE head says monitoring mission to Ukraine should be prolonged

Zbigniew Rau, Poland’s foreign minister and current chairman of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said that the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) should be prolonged.

On Thursday the Polish politician visited the Kyiv headquarters of the SMM mission, which has been operational since 2014.

“We will try to extend its mandate, its budget… to ensure it will be able to carry out its tasks… and that access to places that should be monitored will be uninterrupted,” Rau said.

The SMM, an unarmed, civilian mission deployed in Ukraine following a request to the OSCE by the Ukrainian government, is tasked with observing and reporting on the situation in the country and to facilitate dialogue among all parties involved in the crisis.

He said that cooperation between the OSCE and Ukraine largely depends on the monitoring mission and its work remaining uninterrupted is extremely important in the current security situation.

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“This is almost 700 people, it is the largest OSCE mission we have in Ukraine. So being able to act freely and effectively is extremely important here,” the minister noted.

Stalemate over Ukraine

Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops at Ukraine’s borders and Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to take military steps if his demands are not met, including a promise from NATO that Ukraine will never become a member of the alliance.

Ukraine and Western countries believe that the concentration of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border is intended to put pressure on Kyiv and the countries supporting it. Military experts and Western governments have spoken of a real threat of Russian aggression.

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