German parties criticize armed forces' role in Ukraine

Ruling party affiliate criticizes German armed forces' role in Ukraine observer mission

Ruling party affiliate criticizes German armed forces' role in Ukraine observer mission

BERLIN - The sister party of Angela Merkel's ruling Christian Democratic Union has criticized on Monday the participation of German Armed Forces in a military monitoring mission in Ukraine. 

Peter Gauweiler, Vice-President of the Christian Social Union in Bavaria, said "it was not in Germany's interest" to participate in the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe mission. Pro-Russian groups have held European observers hostage for eight days in Ukraine. 

German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert said that this was the personal opinion of Gauweiler and that the German government backs the soldiers and the international observers, who were kidnapped. "The German government stands for this instrument of inspections as they are part of the Vienna Document," he said. 

The Vienna Document requires members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe to help implement security measures.

"It was certainly not a contribution to a de-escalation, to send Bundeswehr (German Armed Forces) members parallel to the official OSCE mission to the region," the opposition Left Party's Katja Kipping said.

Kipping also criticized German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen: "A defense minister who sends her soldiers as part of a dubious mission in a conflict region must also be asked whether they fulfilled her duty of care."

Seven of the military observers were released Saturday. The kidnapped group consisted of seven military observers from Germany, Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland and Sweden as well as five accompanying Ukrainian. They were seized by pro-Russian gunmen on April 25 on their way from Kramatorsk to Donetsk in eastern Ukraine and were held in Slovyansk for eight days before being released on Saturday.

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