United States Mission to the OSCEVienna, Austria PRESS RELEASEMarch 12, 2014
The U.S. Mission to the OSCE today expressed its deep concern over indications of the involvement of Russian military personnel in the establishment of roadblocks on the Crimean peninsula. Evidence of the Russian military presence was cited in a report submitted by an OSCE military observer team which was repeatedly prevented from entering Crimea from March 5-10.
The passage into Crimea of the multinational delegation sent to Ukraine under the Vienna Document Chapter III was blocked five times in multiple locations by heavily armed guards lacking clear national identification.
"This report adds to our deep concerns and clearly suggests direct involvement by the Russian federation and its agents in preventing impartial, unarmed observers from doing the work they are supposed to do," U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Daniel Baer said today. "Russian encouragement of and support for illegal checkpoints is unhelpful."
The conclusion of the observer team’s report states, “the [Ukrainian Police escort] and Team were consistently refused access at gunpoint and therefore were not able to dispel concerns over the reported unusual Russian Federation military activity. However, the Team observations produced significant evidence of equipment consistent with the presence of Russian Federation military personnel [in the vicinity of] the various roadblocks encountered during the period of the observation.”
Among the evidence cited in the report were “[Russian] pattern uniforms and combat equipment without identifying patches,” “trucks bearing license plate numbers associated with Black Sea Fleet,” and armored personnel carriers, “one of which is a naval infantry version displaying [Russian] markings.”