KIEV, Ukraine, June 6 (UPI) -- The Ukrainian ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement Friday publicly demanding Russian Cossack leader Nikolai Kozitsyn order "his gangs to release" the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's monitors detained in eastern Ukraine since late May.
Citing evidence that links Kozitsyn with unrest in eastern Ukraine, the MFA maintained that Russian Cossacks in Moscow facilitated the weapons supply to separatists in eastern Ukraine and coordinated the abduction of the OSCE monitors.
"An undeniable proof of this has become telephone calls of the ataman of the Great Host of Don Cossacks Nikolai Kozitsyn, made public by the Security Service of Ukraine, that establish a direct link of the so-called Russian Cossack structures coordinated from Moscow with weapons supply to terrorist organizations operating in the East of Ukraine, as well as with the kidnapping of representatives of the OSCE Special monitoring mission on May 29, 2014."
The MFA demanded that Kozitsyn "immediately give the order to his gangs to release the hostages, including the OSCE monitors -- who enjoy privileges and immunities under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961 -- and to end terror against the Ukrainian citizens in the eastern regions of Ukraine."
"We call on the international community to condemn the actions of the leadership of the Russian Federation aimed at continued destabilization of the situation in the eastern regions of Ukraine. We also call on the international community to force the Russian side to stop exporting and organizing terrorist activities in Ukraine that threaten the entire civilized world."
Two OSCE monitoring groups are currently being detained in eastern Ukraine. The first monitoring group, comprised of four people from Estonia, Switzerland, Turkey, and Denmark, was detained by a pro-Russian separatist group identifying itself as the Sloviansk self-defense forces on May 26. OSCE lost contact with the second group of four monitors and a translator on May 29, after the group was taken by armed separatists in Luhansk, a stronghold of the pro-Russian resistance.