2015 VISIT Russia Ilkka KanervaOSCE PA President Ilkka KanervaCOPENHAGEN, 27 January 2015 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) today called on Russia to close its international border with Ukraine to help counter the alarming increase in violence in eastern Ukraine in recent weeks.

"Russian leaders have spoken of their support for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Ukraine. In keeping with that pledge, I call on Russia to close the border to halt the flow of any weapons or fighters – whether volunteers or not – which may be entering eastern Ukraine. The advanced weaponry that is being employed by the illegal separatists in Ukraine is not appearing out of thin air," Kanerva said.

"Of course, in closing the border, there is also the need to consider the provision of humanitarian assistance to civilian populations affected by the fighting. However, I note the assessment by the UN that the appalling attack on Mariupol, which emanated from rebel-held territory, deliberately targeted civilian populations. Closing the border, then, may be a major form of humanitarian assistance in itself," the OSCE PA President added.

Kanerva also described the expansion of the conflict into the Mariupol area as a "grave escalation" and welcomed the recent Declaration by representatives of the OSCE's 57 participating States that calls for an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.

The situation in and around Ukraine will be on the agenda at the OSCE PA's Winter Meeting next month in Vienna.