Russia called on Monday for an investigation into the death of an American paramedic in eastern Ukraine after Kiev and the insurgents quickly traded blame over who was at fault and following a request by the US for a transparent probe.
The paramedic, working for the European security watchdog OSCE’s monitoring mission, was killed and two others were injured on Sunday when their vehicle struck a mine in the Russian-backed separatist east.
The death triggered a US call for a transparent, timely investigation.
US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the killing underscored the increasingly dangerous conditions under which the OSCE mission operated, including grappling with “access restrictions, threats, and harassment.”
“The United States urges Russia to use its influence with the separatists to allow the OSCE to conduct a full, transparent, and timely investigation,” Toner said.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson also spoke about the incident on Sunday with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who offered his condolences.
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, called on Monday for an investigation into the death.
He said the incident would be discussed at a meeting in Moscow on Tuesday between Lamberto Zannier, the secretary general of the OSCE, and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister.
Lugansk rebel police force spokesman Alexander Mazeikin told AFP that the OSCE vehicle “hit an anti-tank mine”.
The separatists also accused the monitors of veering off the main road and travelling along an unsafe route not agreed with Russian and Ukrainian representatives.
“We know that this patrol team deviated from the main route and was moving along secondary roads, which is prohibited,” the Lugansk rebels said on their news site.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry branded the incident an attempt by “Moscow and its puppets to scare off OSCE monitors and to nullify efforts by Ukraine and the SMM (Special Monitoring Mission) to stabilize the situation along the front.”