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Kyiv Asks OSCE To Expand Ukraine Monitoring Mission

Edi Rama (left), the OSCE chairman-in-office, and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystayko attend a news conference in Kyiv on January 20.

Foreign Minister Vadym Prystayko says Ukraine has asked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to expand its monitoring mission in Ukraine.

Prystayko made the announcement on January 20 after a meeting with OSCE Chairman-in-Office Edi Rama.

The OSCE's special monitoring mission has been present in Ukraine since 2014, when fighting broke out in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatists after Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The war has killed more than 14,000 people and devastated Ukraine's industrial heartland.

The mission's civilian monitors keep track in particular of the situation in the war-torn regions, with a special task of facilitating dialogue between the sides of the conflict. Its mandate expires on March 31.

Prystayko said Kyiv asked the OSCE not only to extend the duration of the mission, but to "expand its possibilities and human resources" and support it financially.

Rama called the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine "the most pressing challenge to security and stability in Europe today."

Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France, and Germany held talks in December, hoping to revive a 2015 peace deal. The talks didn't produce a breakthrough, but were hailed by both Russia and Ukraine as encouraging.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax