News / Europe

OSCE Begins Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, But Not Crimea

  • Ukrainian tanks are transported from their base in Perevalne, outside Simferopol, Crimea, March 26, 2014.
  • Ukrainian soldiers transport their tanks from their base in Perevalnoe, outside Simferopol, Crimea, March 26, 2014.
  • Russian police cars drive and Ukrainian soldiers walk behind Ukrainian tanks at Perevalnoe, outside Simferopol, Crimea, March 26, 2014.
  • Crimean retirees line up to get their pensions in Russian rubles inside a post office in Simferopol, Crimea, March 25, 2014.
  • Ukrainian marines prepare to leave their base in Feodosia, Crimea, March 25, 2014.
  • Russian sailors stand on board the ship Aleksandrovets at the port of Sevastopol, Crimea, March 25, 2014.
  • Ukrainian sailors leave the Konstantin Olshansky navy ship in the bay of Donuzlav, Crimea, March 24, 2014.
  • People line up to apply for Russian passports in Sevastopol, Crimea, March 24, 2014.
  • A man carries a placard with currency rates at an exchange office in Sevastopol, Crimea, March 24, 2014.
Images from Ukraine and Crimea
Daniel Schearf
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE, has begun a monitoring mission to Ukraine as tensions simmer following Russia's annexation of Crimea. The 100 observers will gather information on security and human rights in Ukraine. But Moscow is so far refusing access to Crimea. 

Scores of OSCE observers on Tuesday began officially fanning out across southern and eastern Ukraine after Russia reluctantly agreed.

The special mission of 100 civilian monitors will for six months gather information on security and human rights in Ukraine, and the mission could be increased to as many as 500 personnel.  They will also try to facilitate dialogue after months of political unrest and military tensions over Russia's annexing Crimea.

Many fear Moscow may take further military action in regions where vocal, pro-Russia populations are demanding that they too be allowed to become part of Russia.

Polish Ambassador Adam Kobieracki is the director of the OSCE's Conflict Prevention Center and acting chief of the mission. He spoke Tuesday at the Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

“In simple terms, this is monitoring mission.  We're sending those people to monitor the situation and report about what they see.  To establish fundamental facts, to try to have as clear a picture as possible, and then from that moment on to try to contribute to de-escalation of tension and stabilization of the situation here,” said Kobieracki.

Moscow only agreed to the observer mission on Friday after signing legislation for Crimea to become part of the Russian Federation.

Moscow says Crimea was annexed to protect its majority Russian-speaking population from persecution by Ukrainian nationalists in Kyiv's interim government.  Though little evidence has emerged of such abuse, Kobieracki says the monitoring mission includes, as part of its mandate, the rights of national minorities.

The United States and its European allies condemned Russia's actions and denounced a Moscow-backed referendum in Crimea as a sham.

The referendum did not offer the status quo as a choice and showed 97 percent of voters wanting the peninsula to become part of Russia.

Russia refused to allow monitors in Crimea, arguing it is no longer part of Ukraine.

Ukraine invited OSCE military experts to Crimea but they were turned away four times by pro-Russia gunmen who, on one occasion, fired warning shots.

Russian troops and local militias in recent days stormed Ukrainian military bases in Crimea that refused to surrender or join Russia.

Ukraine's defense chief resigned Tuesday after he was criticized for failing to give clear orders to the military holdouts.

Moscow's actions in Crimea sparked the worst East-West tensions in decades and tit-for-tat sanctions that have already cost Russia's economy tens of billions of dollars.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs