Senators demand OSCE monitors in Ukraine

Russia on Wednesday blocked the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from sending peace monitors into Ukraine but a bipartisan group of senators said the organization should keep pushing to get involved. 
 
Senate Majority Whip Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinQuestions loom over Franken ethics probe GOP defends Trump judicial nominee with no trial experience Democrats scramble to contain Franken fallout  MORE (D-Ill.) sent the letter to OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier, along with seven other lawmakers who traveled to Ukraine last week: Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump's dangerous Guantánamo fixation will fuel fire for terrorists Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Ad encourages GOP senator to vote 'no' on tax bill MORE (R-Ariz.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyCongress must end American support for Saudi war in Yemen Jones raised 0K a day after first Moore accusers came forward: report Senate Democrats introduce bill to block Trump's refugee ban MORE (D-Conn.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock Tax bills speed up global tax race to the bottom Someone besides the president should have the nuclear codes MORE (R-Wis.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseDems in Germany: Trump can't stop clean energy revolution Senate Dems demand answers on Social Security info given to election integrity commission Strange bedfellows on criminal justice reform could offer Trump a legislative win MORE (D-R.I.), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoPruitt to testify on EPA agenda at House, Senate hearings Overnight Energy: Senate confirms top EPA air regulator | Feds to roll back emissions rule for big trucks | Defense bill mandates climate study Senate confirms top air regulator at EPA MORE (R-Wyo), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSpokesman: Flake’s vote on tax reform will have nothing to do with Trump Trump slams Flake over hot-mic comments: Senator's career is 'toast' Bannon: McConnell 'picking up his game' because of our 'insurgent movement' MORE (R-Ariz.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOvernight Health Care: Initial Senate tax bill doesn't repeal ObamaCare mandate | 600K sign up for ObamaCare in first four days | Feds crack down on opioid trafficking Overnight Finance: Senate GOP unveils different approach on tax reform | House tax bill heads to floor | House leaders eye vote next week | AT&T denies pressure for CNN sale Adoption tax credit restored after conservative backlash MORE (R-N.D.).
 
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“We write to urge the immediate deployment of OSCE civilian monitors to eastern, southern and other potentially unstable regions of Ukraine to report on security and human rights conditions on the ground and to help defuse tensions,” the letter states.
 
“Russia’s further use of provocateurs and intelligence agents to brazenly stir trouble in eastern Ukraine must be exposed and monitored so as to not provide Russia a manipulated pretext for additional military action in Ukraine,” the senators said.
 
An Senate aide said the lawmakers are not currently urging OSCE to abandon the consensus model that has allowed Russia to block monitors. But the senators note that Russian officials have expressed openness to the idea of a monitoring mission even if specifics are holding up an OSCE deal. 
 
The Senate letter comes as Russia is moving Wednesday to consolidate its military control of the Ukrainian region of Crimea which Russian President Vladimir Putin formally annexed on Tuesday.