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article imageOSCE says displeased with 'status quo' in Ukraine conflict

By AFP     Jan 4, 2017 in World

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, which has been monitoring the pro-Russian insurgency in eastern Ukraine, said Wednesday it was displeased with the "status quo" in the 32-month conflict.

The OSCE's new chairman, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz, said the organisation was "not satisfied with the status quo we have now" during a visit to the government-held city of Mariupol outside rebel-controlled regions.

"We want to make efforts to see change for the better," Kurz told reporters.

During his two-day visit to Ukraine's war-torn east, Kurz stressed the importance of implementing the so-called Minsk agreements designed to bring an end to a conflict that has claimed 10,000 lives since 2014.

"Although there are many concerns surrounding the state of these agreements, I must say that the situation at the time of their signing was worse than it is now," he said. "And it could be even worse."

Kurz added that expectations regarding the possible deployment of an armed OSCE police force in rebel-held areas needed to be "realistic."

Kiev has pressing for an international armed police presence in the region so that it can be brought under control and seal Ukraine's porous eastern border with Russia -- allegedly used by rebels to smuggle in weapons and supplies.

But the idea of arming the OSCE mission has been met with resistance by the pro-Russian "people's republics" in the industrial regions of most Lugansk and Donetsk.

Kiev and the West have accused Russia of supporting the rebels and deploying troops across the border, claims Moscow has repeatedly denied.

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