MOSCOW -- Russia's foreign ministry said on Saturday that it hopes a monitoring mission in Ukraine will help ease the tensions in Ukraine. Ukraine was engulfed in anti-government rallies for three months before President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country and the interim government was appointed. Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement on Friday that Moscow hopes that the 200-strong team of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe "will help to overcome the internal Ukrainian crisis" and ensure the respect for human rights there.
Russia had raised concerns about the situation in Russian-speaking south-eastern regions including the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea. Moscow on Friday formally sealed Crimea's annexation, less than a week following a referendum that overwhelmingly voted to join Russia. Pro-Russian forces last week stopped OSCE military observers from entering Crimea. The organization on Friday did not specify whether the observers will go to Crimea. U.S. chief envoy Daniel Baer said the observers should have access to the territory because Crimea remains Ukrainian to the rest of the world. Lukashevich said on Saturday insisted that the OSCE's mission "will reflect the new political and legal order and will not cover Crimea and Sevastopol which became part of Russia."