July 14, 2014 / 1:52 PM / 5 years ago

Russia says has invited OSCE monitors to Ukraine border crossings

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has invited monitors from the European security and rights body OSCE to two of its border crossings with Ukraine as a sign of goodwill, the Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Ukraine has demanded that independent monitoring be established to ensure Russia is controlling its border. Kiev says Moscow is fanning violence in eastern Ukraine by allowing fighters and weaponry to cross into its territory.

The Russian statement said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had sent a letter to Didier Burkhalter, the acting head of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), inviting observers to the border points at Donetsk, which has the same name as the Ukrainian city seized by pro-Russian separatists, and Gukovo.

The Russian Donetsk border crossing was the site of shelling at the weekend that killed a man and wounded a woman. Moscow said the shelling had been carried out by Ukrainian troops, an accusation Kiev denies.

“In connection with the worsening situation in the region where Kiev is carrying out its military operation in the southeast of Ukraine, the Russian side, in the order of goodwill and without waiting for a ceasefire, is inviting OSCE observers to checkpoints ... on the Russian-Ukrainian border,” the Foreign Ministry statement said.

The OSCE, which is working with Kiev and Moscow to end the violence, said in June it had scaled back monitoring operations in eastern Ukraine and frozen further deployments after eight of its observers were held hostage for a month by pro-Russian separatists.

Reporting by Thomas Grove; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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