U.S. at OSCE: Russia's attempts to freeze conflict in Donbas must be prevented

OSCE participating States should consider ways to prevent the conflict in Donbas from becoming another frozen conflict in Europe.

Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Mission to the OSCE Courtney Austrian said this at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on Thursday, January 21, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.

"Russia denied its involvement in eastern Ukraine to force a stalemate and create a frozen conflict. This is not a frozen conflict, however, but rather an active fight that threatens lives and livelihoods," she noted.

The American diplomat pointed out that Russia provides financial support to the so-called "LPR/DPR authorities" that have no accountability to local populations and answer only to Moscow. The Kremlin is also actively undermining Ukraine’s sovereignty by aggressively incentivizing eastern Ukrainians to take up Russian citizenship; and, in 2020, under the guise of the coronavirus pandemic, stepped up its harassment of Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) personnel and humanitarian organizations working with the most vulnerable of Ukraine’s populations.

"We cannot afford to allow this Russia-manufactured stalemate to endure. We must identify a concrete path toward a full, lasting, and peaceful resolution to this conflict, which has cost too many lives and for too long stifled opportunities for economic and social development in Ukraine," Courtney Austrian said.

"As Moscow stymies progress in the Trilateral Contact Group by hiding behind its proxies as it feigns the role of “independent observer,” it is incumbent upon us, as the participating States of this Permanent Council, to consider the ways in which we can prevent the conflict in eastern Ukraine from becoming another frozen conflict in Europe," the diplomat stressed.

Earlier on Thursday, the Joint Control and Coordination Center (JCCC) reported gross violations of the deployment of weapons and military equipment in Luhansk and Donetsk regions.

ish

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