Pro-Russian Forces in Sloviansk Kidnap European Military Observers

Pro-Russian forces in Sloviansk have kidnapped eight members of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Vyacheslav Ponomarev, self-proclaimed mayor of Sloviansk, said the people are NATO spies.

"As we found maps on them containing information about the location of our checkpoints, we get the impression that they are officers carrying out a certain spying mission," Ponomarev said.

However, it was well known members of the OSCE would be in east Ukraine. After the US, European Union, Ukraine, and Russia signed an agreement in Geneva, one of the stipulations was to send OSCE to cities that are under control of pro-Russian forces.

Germans lead the group of OSCE members, but Germany’s Defense Ministry said there are five Ukrainians in the teams. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Sergei Lavrov about the kidnapping, and Russia claimed Moscow will do what they can to help release the hostages. But Moscow used to opportunity to insult Kiev.

"The security of the inspectors is wholly entrusted to the host party," the statement said. "Hence it would be logical to expect the current authorities in Kiev to resolve preliminary questions of the location, actions, and safety of the instructors."

Ukraine’s security service (SBU) said one of the hostages needs medical care.

"Today the official representatives of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe) are being held in inhuman conditions in the basement of the terrorists' headquarters," the service said in a statement on its Internet site.

"Among those detained is a person who needs immediate medical help." The statement said Ukrainian security services were ready to provide medical assistance, but the separatists had rejected this offer.

"The terrorists plan to use the hostages as a human shield," the statement said.


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