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Russia says OSCE monitors should stay in Ukraine, where 2 monitor groups are missing

Russia's Foreign Ministry is criticizing a suggestion by an OSCE official that the organization could consider withdrawing its observer mission from Ukraine because of safety concerns.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe says it lost contact on Thursday with a group of monitors in separatist eastern Ukraine. Another group of monitors has been held by eastern rebels since Monday.

Wolfgang Ischinger, the OSCE's negotiator on national dialogue in Ukraine, told German broadcaster ZDF this week that the monitor mission might have to withdraw if the organization fears for its employees' lives.

But the Russian ministry said in a statement Saturday that "amid Kiev's intentionally intensified punitive operation in the east of the country, it is essential to step up the work of international observers."