EU backs opening of OSCE's forward patrol bases near Ukraine's border with Russia.

The European Union supports the opening of forward patrol bases of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission near the section of the Ukrainian-Russian border not controlled by the Ukrainian government, as well as a much wider use of long-range UAVs.

According to an Ukrinform correspondent, the EU said this in a statement on "Russia's Ongoing Aggression against Ukraine and Illegal Occupation of Crimea," which was read out at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council.

"SMM should have unrestricted access to all border areas, in accordance with its mandate, and urge Russia to use its considerable influence over the armed formations it backs in order to lift the restrictions of the SMM’s freedom of movement. In order to create more transparency, we would also support SMM in opening forward patrol bases close to the border, as well as a much wider use of long-range UAVs in their work," the statement reads.

It also notes that the European Union remains deeply concerned about the presence of Russian military equipment and personnel in the sovereign territory of Ukraine.

"The frequent SMM reports about the presence of Russian military equipment in eastern Ukraine underline the need for greater transparency about what is happening at the Ukraine-Russia state border currently not controlled by the Ukrainian government," the statement said.

According to the EU, the fact that Russia, as a party to the conflict, as the host country of this Mission and as a signatory of the Minsk agreements, has decided to end the Border Observation Mission to Gukovo and Donetsk is "a step backwards in finding a peaceful resolution to this conflict."

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