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57-nation OSCE reaches agreement to send observers to eastern, southern Ukraine

The U.S. mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says the group's 57 members have agreed to send an observer mission to Ukraine.

The American mission said on Twitter that a consensus was reached Friday at a meeting of OSCE members, who include European Union nations, Russia, Ukraine and the U.S.

Western countries — particularly Germany — have been pushing hard for an observer mission as a way of preventing an escalation of tensions in Ukraine's south and east, which have a large Russian-speaking population, following Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

The mandate calls for an initial deployment of 100 civilian monitors to regions in the east, south and west. Up to 400 more could be added "as necessary and according to the situation."