Death of OSCE Monitor
In Eastern Ukraine
WASHINGTON, D.C. (Commission on Security & Cooperation In Europe) – Following the death Sunday (April 23, 2017) of a U.S. paramedic serving in the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine when his vehicle struck an explosive likely a landmine in separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine, Helsinki Commission Chairman Senator Roger Wicker spoke on the Senate floor yesterday evening to condemn the incident; express his condolences to the family of the victim, Joseph Stone; and call for the Russian government to end the cycle of violence that resulted in Sunday’s tragedy.
“Had Russia lived up to the Minsk agreements, and ceased supporting, directing, funding, and fueling separatists in this region, there would have been no need for the [monitoring] mission to continue,” Senator Wicker said.
“[The monitors] play an essential role in the understanding of the situation on the ground, often under extremely difficult circumstances the tragic death of American Joseph Stone underscores the need for the OSCE monitors to have unfettered access across the front lines and across the border regions controlled by the separatists,” he continued.
“I commend the Austrian foreign minister, who serves as OSCE Chair-in-Office, for calling attention to this tragedy and calling for an immediate investigation into these events. Those who are responsible should be held accountable. Joseph Stone died serving his country by serving as a part of this international effort, and I extend my condolences this evening to his family and friends. I once again call on Russian leadership to put an end to the cycle of violence and to live up to its OSCE commitments,” Senator Wicker concluded.
The SMM was established in 2014 to monitor implementation of the Minsk agreements designed to bring peace to eastern Ukraine. The SMM operates under a mandate adopted by consensus among the 57 OSCE participating States, including the United States, Russia, and Ukraine.
Currently fielding roughly 700 monitors, nearly 600 of whom are in Donetsk and Luhansk regions, the SMM is an unarmed, civilian mission that serves as the international communitys eyes and ears in the conflict zone. It is the only independent monitoring mission in the war zone. The United States supports the SMM and its monitors by providing roughly 75 personnel and other resources to the mission.
The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, also known as the U.S. Helsinki Commission, is an independent agency of the Federal Government charged with monitoring compliance with the Helsinki Accords and advancing comprehensive security through promotion of human rights, democracy, and economic, environmental and military cooperation in 57 countries. The Commission consists of nine members from the U.S. Senate, nine from the House of Representatives, and one member each from the Departments of State, Defense, and Commerce.