OSCE loses contact with second four-member team of monitors in eastern Ukraine
By End the Lie
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said on Friday that they lost contact with a second four-member team in eastern Ukraine after they were stopped by “armed men” at a roadblock in the town of Severodonetsk.
The Vienna-based organization said they have not been in contact with the team, which is based out of Luhansk, since yesterday evening, according to AFP.
“The team consists of four international [Special Monitoring Mission] members, as well as one Ukrainian language assistant travelling in two vehicles,” the OSCE said in a statement published on their website.
In addition to the latest team that the organization lost contact with, a four-member team has been missing in eastern Ukraine since May 26.
The self-proclaimed mayor of Slovyansk, a rebel stronghold in the Donetsk region, said the OSCE team that went missing on Monday is being held on suspicion of spying, according to AFP.
Another pro-Russian separatist from the Southeastern Front said that his men detained the team in Luhansk in a statement issued to Interfax.
Yet there are contradictory statements coming out of rebel quarters.
A spokesman for the self-proclaimed “Luhansk People’s Republic” denied that the group of OSCE observers was being held against its will, when contacted by AFP.
“Nobody arrested the four OSCE observers,” Volodymyr Inogorodskiy said to AFP.
“They finished their work late yesterday night in Severodonetsk and we advised them not to leave the city because of the (security) situation,” Inogorodskiy said.
An unnamed rebel leader in the Donetsk region told journalists that the first group is in their custody and that they would “deal with this and then release them,” according to CBS.
The unnamed leader did not elaborate on what he meant by this, nor did he give a timeframe for their release.
The two missing teams of OSCE observers come as the Ukrainian government in Kiev is intensifying their campaign to subdue the pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Despite president-elect Petro Poroshenko’s promise to conduct an anti-terrorist operation lasting “hours” rather than months, the fighting continues.
The rebels have struck some serious blows to the Ukrainian military, including the killing of a general and 13 other soldiers by shooting down a helicopter on Thursday.
CBS reported that much of eastern Ukraine is “waiting for an all-out civil war to erupt following the most serious bloodshed in the conflict so far,” referring to the strike on the separatist forces attempting to seize the Donetsk airport.
On Friday, the Ukrainian government vowed to press on with their military assault on the separatists, despite the downing of the helicopter Thursday.
This comes as Reuters reports that there are “increasing reports that fighters from Russia have been involved in rebellions in the east.”