: OSCE could send armed police to Donbas during elections

18:16 May. 20, 2016

OSCE could send armed police to Donbas during elections

A Ukrainian soldier guards OSCE observers near the village of Shyrokyne, eastern Ukraine, April 19, 2015 (AP photo)

The organization's Secretary General says the mission would keep law and order 

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is considering sending an armed police mission to help conduct elections in the war zone in eastern Ukraine.

The OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier said in an interview with the Associated Press that the armed mission could include hundreds of policemen to ensure the vote is secure. Presently, unarmed OSCE monitoring mission is controlling the cease-fire.

"It would be a police operation to help maintain law and order in this area and ... to help provide a safe environment for the elections to take place", Zannier stated.

The change of the mission format, as requested by Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko, is possible only if both sides fully commit to a ceasefire and agree on deploying an armed police group.

"It is a complicated scenario, but it's certainly something that we can do if, as I say, everybody agrees", Zannier said.

Read also Russian-backed militants threaten to open fire at OSCE - monitors

The Secretary-General continues that the mission could work alongside the local police force in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to prevent criminal activity and help international observers monitor the vote.

Kyiv supports sending an armed police mission to Donbas to hold local elections in two eastern regions. However, Russian-backed separatists and Moscow have spoken against such a mission, saying unarmed monitors of OSCE would be enough for the vote.

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