UK statement: access restrictions on OSCE Special Monitoring Mission patrols

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The UK is deeply concerned that since 21 March, Russia backed armed formations have restricted OSCE Special Monitoring Mission patrols’ freedom of movement across the line of contact, purportedly due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

While the pandemic is extremely serious, it cannot be used as an excuse to restrict the freedom of movement of the Mission.

We commend the SMM for its efforts to protect its staff and the local population, whilst also continuing as far as is safely possible their vital work monitoring the security situation on the ground.

Restricting the SMM’s ability to cross the line of contact not only prevents them from monitoring the entire territory of Ukraine, in accordance with their mandate, but also jeopardises the Mission’s ability to ensure the safety and security of its staff. The UK condemns any measures that undermine the safety of SMM personnel.

The UK calls on Russia to exert their undeniable influence over the armed formations they back to restore the SMM’s freedom of movement over the line of contact. We reiterate the importance of full, safe and unimpeded access throughout Ukraine for both SMM monitors and the technological assets they use.

We also stress the particular importance at this time of Russia-backed armed formations ensuring unimpeded access for humanitarian organisations, including the ICRC, across the line of contact and within non-government controlled areas so that they can continue providing vitally important support to the local population.

The UK remains resolute in its support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.

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