OSCE accuse separatists of blocking access in Donbas

Western monitors say separatists 'systematically deny access to large sections of the Ukraine-Russian border'

OSCE accuse separatists of blocking access in Donbas

World Bulletin / News Desk

The OSCE on Wednesday accused Russia-backed separatists controlling parts of east Ukraine of barring access to their monitors, as fears grew that escalating violence could flare up into a return of all-out war.

"They deny us access to specific areas. We are not allowed through at checkpoints," Alexander Hug, the deputy chief of the OSCE's monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine, told Germany's Die Welt newspaper.

The separatists were "systematically denying access to large sections of the Ukraine-Russian border," he added.

The Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe has been at the heart of international efforts to end a 16-month conflict between Western-backed Kyiv and pro-Russian insurgents that has already claimed more than 6,500 lives.

The Cold War-era peace enforcement body reports ceasefire violations and arranges periodic talks aimed at salvaging an often-ignored truce signed in February with the help of the leaders of Germany and France.

A sharp escalation of violence erupted this week, with Kyiv and the insurgents reporting the deaths of at least 10 soldiers and civilians -- the worst bloodshed in more than a month.

Hug said besides fighting in the rebels' de facto capital Donetsk, there are now "new flashpoints which were not there in the last three or four months".

These included sites "along the so-called contact line, the frontline, to Mariupol", a southern port city, he said, adding that he was personally travelling to Donetsk to assess the situation.

The latest violence has sparked a new diplomatic flareup between Moscow -- accused by the West of aiding and abetting the rebellion -- and Western powers which want to prop up Kyiv's new pro-European leaders against what they view as Russian aggression.

In a sign of the fraught situation, France said Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko would travel to Berlin on Monday to discuss the latest spike in violence with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande -- the Western sponsors of the February truce deal. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin's exclusion from the meeting was seen by some analysts in Kyiv as a diplomatic snub.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 19 Ağustos 2015, 14:18