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 DurbinDick DurbinDems gain upper hand on budget McConnell: Senate could drop flood money from spending bill Funding bill rejected as shutdown nears 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 McCainKerry: US 'on the verge' of suspending talks with Russia on Syria Trump, Clinton to headline Al Smith dinner Overnight Defense: Congress overrides Obama 9/11 veto | Pentagon breathes easy after funding deal | More troops heading to Iraq MORE (R-Ariz.), Chris MurphyChris MurphySenators press State Department on 'plan B' in Syria Could Snapchat be the digital bridge to younger voters? Saudi skeptics gain strength in Congress MORE (D-Conn.), Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Grassley accuses Reid of 'pure unfiltered partisanship' California to allow experimental drug treatments for the terminally ill MORE (R-Wis.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseAnti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP Overnight Energy: SEC begins probing Exxon Senate Dems unveil new public option push for ObamaCare MORE (D-R.I.), John BarrassoJohn BarrassoSenators express 'grave concerns' about ObamaCare 'bailout' GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase Tribes open new front in fight over pipelines MORE (R-Wyo), Jeff FlakeJeff FlakeOvernight Finance: Lawmakers call for criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Ryan sees recession without tax reform | Aide defends Trump Cuba deals GOP senators press Treasury to withdraw estate tax proposal Obama defeat is Schumer victory MORE (R-Ariz.) and John HoevenJohn HoevenOvernight Defense: White House threatens to veto Gitmo bill GOP senators fight female draft in defense bill Majority of GOP senators to attend Trump convention 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.