COPENHAGEN, 27 April 2015 – A military advance by illegal separatists in Ukraine on the city of Mariupol could have "disastrous consequences" for efforts to achieve a diplomatic solution to the crisis in the country, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Ilkka Kanerva (MP, Finland) said today following a meeting of the Assembly's Bureau in the Danish Parliament.

"I am gravely concerned by the reports from OSCE monitors of a sharp escalation of fighting close to Mariupol and the movement of rebel tanks nearby. An attempt by the illegal separatists to take this strategically vital city would not only be the worst violation of the Minsk Agreements to date, but could have disastrous consequences for efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the crisis," Kanerva said.

"In recent weeks I have been alarmed by both the Ukrainian government's warnings that the illegal separatists could be preparing a new offensive and by the separatists' explicit threats to take Mariupol. The international community must make it clear, in words and in actions, that breaches of Ukraine's territorial integrity simply will not be tolerated," the OSCE PA President added.

During discussions in the Bureau meeting about the situation in Ukraine, PA Vice-President Vilija Aleknaite Abramikiene (MP, Lithuania) also stressed the need for OSCE monitors to have complete access to the east of Ukraine and to the entirety of the Russian-Ukrainian border.

She also called on Russian authorities to allow OSCE human rights monitors into Russian-occupied Crimea to gather information and publicly report on the situation.