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One of the eight European observers being detained by pro-Russian separatists in the eastern Ukraine city of Slaviansk on Sunday evening was escorted to an Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) vehicle and driven away.
The latest development comes at a time when US president Barack Obama slammed Russia for destabilising Ukraine. He warned Russian president Vladimir Putin of harsher sanctions.
New penalties expected this week against Moscow will include high technology exports to the Russian defense industry and the companies controlled by those closest to Putin.
Earlier in the day, the OSCE team of 8 observers was paraded before the international media in Slaviansk.
City’s mayor Vyacheslav Ponomarev told reporters that the OSCE observers “are not our hostages — they are our guests”.
The senior OSCE officer, Colonel Axel Schneider, defended his mission to the region. He said claims by Ponomarev that the group were Nato spies were blatantly false. “We are not Nato,” he said.
Rebels take over TV station in Donetsk
Pro-Russian separatists on Sunday seized control of the offices of regional state television in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk and said they would take it off air and broadcast a Kremlin-backed Russian channel instead.