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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 DurbinAmerica’s waning commitment to the promise of the First Amendment Senate rejects Trump immigration plan What to watch for in the Senate immigration votes 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 McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (R-Ariz.), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyLawmakers feel pressure on guns Trump to take steps to ban bump stocks Kasich’s campaign website tones down gun language after Florida shooting MORE (D-Conn.), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonTrump spars with GOP lawmakers on steel tariffs Overnight Regulation: Trump unveils budget | Sharp cuts proposed for EPA, HHS | Trump aims to speed environmental reviews | Officials propose repealing most of methane leak rule Trump budget seeks savings through ObamaCare repeal MORE (R-Wis.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseCommittee chairman aims for House vote on opioid bills by Memorial Day Regulators seek to remove barriers to electric grid storage Prison sentencing bill advances over Sessions objections MORE (D-R.I.), John BarrassoJohn Anthony BarrassoThe 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework Overnight Energy: Senate panel advances Trump pick for EPA No. 2 | Pruitt questions ‘assumptions’ on climate | Dems want Pruitt recused from climate rule review Senate panel advances Trump pick for No. 2 official at EPA MORE (R-Wyo), Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake to try to force vote on DACA stopgap plan Congress punts fight over Dreamers to March Outgoing GOP rep: Republican Party 'heading into trouble' in election MORE (R-Ariz.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenSenate Republicans call on Trump to preserve NAFTA GOP anxious with Trump on trade GOP lawmakers to Trump: Don't fire Mueller 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.