Russia favors establishment of security zones on line of contact in Donbas, increasing number of OSCE monitors - Lavrov

Russia has supported the idea of setting up several security zones on the line of contact in Donbas, deploying an additional OSCE monitoring team there, and stepping up the monitoring of the heavy weapons holding areas, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"A top-level conversation has been concentrated on the idea that the efficiency of the OSCE mission working there needs to be enhanced," Lavrov said in an interview shown in a Saturday news program hosted by Sergei Brilev on Rossiya-1 (VGTRK) television channel.

"Russian President Vladimir Putin has spoken in favor of augmenting this mission's potential primarily on the separation line. We have supported the establishment of several security zones on this line," he said.

The establishment of several security zones in the most troublesome districts along this line envisions the deployment of additional OSCE monitors there, so that they "curb attempts to return to territories liberated from Ukrainian armed forces - and such attempts have taken place, in particular, in Shyrokyne," Lavrov said.

Russia has also proposed that "reinforced round-the-clock units of OSCE monitors be present in the areas where heavy hardware is stored, where it has been withdrawn in keeping with the Minsk Agreements and from where it has often disappeared, both east of the separation line and in the territory controlled by the Ukrainian armed forces," Lavrov said.

"We have said also that, if this helps the cause, we would be ready to agree to the OSCE's authorizing this additional group of monitors controlling the separation line and the heavy weapons holding areas to carry personal firearms," Lavrov said.

At the same time, the idea to provide additional monitors with personal firearms has drawn objections from "a lot of OSCE members," he said.

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