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OSCE’s Ukraine mission extended until March 31, 2018

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) take pictures of a destroyed house in Avdiivka, in eastern Ukraine, after heavy fighting on February 25, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has decided to extend its mission to monitor Ukraine’s conflict for another year.

On Thursday, the 57 member states of the OSCE decided by consensus to extend the mandate until March 31, 2018.

The OSCE said in a statement that the mission would continue to press the warring sides of the conflict in eastern Ukraine to reduce hostilities. It also said the mission would continue to report on the developments on the ground, including violations of truce agreements between the warring sides.

More than 700 international observers take part in OSCE’s mission in Ukraine.

Ukraine, Russia and the United States, along with key European governments, are all members to the European security organization.

The OSCE has been tasked with monitoring a ceasefire agreement that was reached between Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France in the Belarusian capital of Minsk in February 2015. 

Protesters hold placards against the OSCE during a rally in front of the European security mission in Donetsk on February 15, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Fighting has continued almost unabated in eastern Ukraine despite the Minsk accord and other deals.

The Ukrainian conflict, which started in 2014, has so far claimed more than 10,000 lives, including 20 civilians since the start of this year.

This is the third time that the OSCE mission in Ukraine has been renewed since it was first deployed in 2014.

A budget of around 105.5 million euros (USD 113.2 million) is earmarked for the mission for more modern equipment and upgrades.

Ukraine blames the prolonged conflict in its east on Russia, accusing Moscow of providing the pro-Russia forces with weapons and funds.

Russia denies any involvement but says it will continue to support the ethnic Russian population living in eastern Ukraine against the suppression of the government in Kiev.

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