Russia on Tuesday demanded Ukraine grant access to a Russian citizen who was captured last week on the front line of the conflict between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Moscow separatists.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry accused Ukrainian forces of detaining ceasefire observer Andrei Kosyak last Wednesday and failing to inform Moscow via diplomatic channels within an allotted three-day period.
Ukraine says Kosyak was a Russian citizen carrying out an undercover reconnaissance mission for the separatists.
“We call on Ukraine to… stop provocations on the contact line in Donbass, report the location of Russian citizen [Andrei] Kosyak and grant Russian consular staff access to him,” spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.
Russian-backed separatists in the Donbass — the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk regions in southeastern Ukraine — have been locked in a 7-year war with Ukrainian forces that has killed some 13,000 people, according to a United Nations tally.
“We regard Ukraine’s actions as treacherous and provocative,” Zakharova said in a statement on the Foreign Ministry’s website.
Separatist-controlled Luhansk’s de-facto leader Leonid Pasechnik had identified Kosyak as the breakaway region’s “officer” who was overseeing the ceasefire during road clearing work when he was captured.
Zakharova urged Europe’s main security body, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), to give a “principled assessment” of Kosyak’s detention.
Protests demanding Kosyak’s release temporarily suspended the OSCE conflict monitoring mission’s work in separatist-controlled Horlivka in recent days.
The mission continued after the protesters had left the Horlivka hotel housing its observers, Reuters reported Monday.
Luhansk responded to Kosyak’s capture by withdrawing security guarantees for Ukrainians working along the front line.