OSCE says dialogue ‘imperative’ to defuse Ukraine crisis

Diplomatic efforts are under way to try and defuse the mounting crisis on Ukraine’s border with Russia

The world’s largest security body on Thursday called for “imperative” dialogue to defuse the mounting crisis on Ukraine’s border where Russian troops have massed, sparking fears of war.

The West has accused Russia of deploying tanks, artillery and about 100,000 soldiers on Ukraine’s war-torn eastern border in recent weeks, in what NATO says is preparation for an invasion.

Moscow and Washington underlined their “fundamental” differences on European security during tense talks in Geneva and Brussels earlier this week.

Helga Schmid, the OSCE secretary general, said the situation in the region was “perilous”, noting “the urgent need to reinvigorate the debate on European security”.

– ‘Risk of war’ –

“It seems that the risk of war in the OSCE area is now greater than ever before in the last 30 years,” he said.

“To a very great extent it’s a disappointment,” he said, adding Russian President Vladimir Putin would be briefed and “determine the level of readiness to take any further steps, in what format and in what time frame.”

Michael Carpenter, US ambassador to the OSCE, said the process of engagement was just beginning with the OSCE trying to further the diplomatic push.

– ‘Part of the pressure’ –

“Russian movements are part of the pressure,” Borrell told journalists ahead of a meeting of EU ministers, insisting that there “should not be negotiation under pressure.”

However, that has failed to end fighting in the region, with conditions degrading for OSCE observers in areas controlled by pro-Russian separatists, a situation the US ambassador called “extremely worrying”.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg also expressed his concern on Wednesday, saying the risk of conflict was “real”, and urged Russia to de-escalate. 

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