British fleet to boost monitoring of Ukraine

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, right, talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, right, talks with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier

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BRITAIN’S MILITARY presence in Ukraine will be strengthened by the arrival of armoured vehicles, it is revealed today.

A fleet of 10 vehicles and communications equipment will seek to boost an international monitoring mission in eastern parts of the country amid renewed tensions between the pro-Russia separatist rebels in the government in Kiev.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Britain’s contribution to efforts, worth £1.2million, would enable the monitors from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to operate safely in the more volatile parts of the country.

At the same time Britain is expanding its contribution to mission staff, with eight additional monitors arriving last week, and three more due to join them at the end of the month.

Mr Hammond said: “The UK stands squarely behind the Ukrainian people and government as they defend their nation’s independence and work to make the political, economic and governance reforms that are vital to rebuilding the country.

The announcement follows an appeal from OSCE chairman, Swiss Federal President Didier Burkhalter, to member states for additional support to monitor a ceasefire agreed between the warring parties in Minsk in September.

There have since been numerous violations which this week led to European Union foreign ministers have agreed to draw up fresh sanctions against pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. In a statement, they said they “will continue to closely follow the situation on the ground and will act accordingly”.

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