The United States is shocked and deeply saddened by the death of a U.S. citizen serving as a paramedic with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, Special Monitoring Mission. The paramedic was killed when his vehicle struck an explosive in separatist controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.
Acting State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner said the death "underscores the increasingly dangerous conditions under which these courageous monitors work, including access restrictions, threats, and harassment. The United States urges Russia to use its influence with the separatists to allow the OSCE to conduct a full, transparent, and timely investigation."
Since its establishment in 2014, the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has played a vital role in overseeing the Minsk agreements designed to bring peace to eastern Ukraine. This incident makes clear the need for all sides - and particularly the Russian-led separatist forces - to fully implement their commitments under the Minsk Agreements immediately.
This includes a real and durable ceasefire, withdrawal of heavy weapons, and disengagement from the line of contact. The brave monitors of the OSCE have the full support of the United States. Mr. Toner said, "We condemn in the strongest terms all acts of hostility and intimidation toward [the OSCE] monitors. They must also have safe, full, and unfettered access throughout the conflict zone."
The United States again calls upon Russia to use its influence with the separatists to take the first step toward peace in eastern Ukraine and ensure a visible, verifiable, and irreversible improvement in the security situation. Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine remain an obstacle to improved relations with the United States.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko by phone recently and reiterated the United States’ firm commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Secretary Tillerson confirmed that sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the Crimean peninsula to Ukraine and fully implements its commitments in the Minsk Agreements.