Updated 3:20 p.m. Moscow Time
MOSCOW, September 6 (RIA Novosti) – In a phone conversation, Russian President Vladimir Putin and OSCE chief Didier Burkhalter have agreed that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine needs to be strengthened, the Kremlin said Monday.
“During the exchange of opinions on the situation in Ukraine, [the sides] stressed the importance of strict compliance by parties to the internal Ukrainian conflict with Minsk agreements, primarily with the ceasefire regime. The work of the OSCE special monitoring mission received a positive assessment, and the need to boost its potential was underlined,” the Kremlin press service said in a statement.
“Putin and Burkhalter spoke in favor of holding a thorough investigation into the causes of the Malaysian airliner crash and into mass graves of civilians. Attention was also paid to issues of security of OSCE monitors, including in the context of the forthcoming October 26 parliamentary elections,” the statement reads.
The conflict in Ukraine started in April, when Kiev authorities launched a military operation against independence supporters in the southeast of the country. According to latest UN estimates, the conflict has led to the deaths of more than 3,600 people.
On September 5, the Trilateral Contact Group on the situation in Ukraine met in Minsk. The group consisted of representatives from Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
As a result of the meeting, Ukrainian authorities and the self-proclaimed people's republics of Luhansk and Donetsk agreed on a ceasefire, which took effect the same day. They also agreed to the presence of monitors in the region, the exchange of prisoners and the opening of humanitarian corridors.
The conflicting sides have repeatedly accused one another of violating the truce, although the OSCE said the ceasefire was generally holding.
Last week, Ukrainian authorities announced that OSCE monitors in the country's east would be using drones to monitor the implementation of the ceasefire agreement. The first two unmanned aerial vehicles were to arrive in Ukraine on October 5, with two more expected in mid-October.