Ukraine crisis: International security monitors will be sent in - but not to Crimea

One-hundred strong team will be dispatched to nine areas, but are not expected to go to the contested region

International monitors will be dispatched to areas of Ukraine after Russia finally agreed to sending teams to unstable regions - but not Crimea.

A 100-strong team from the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe will be sent within 24 hours to monitor the situation for six months and try to reduce tensions.

On Friday, Russia agreed to join the 56 other members of the OSCE in a consensus decision to send the monitoring mission to nine regions in Ukraine.

Russia said it hoped the decision to send a monitoring mission in would help resolve what it called an "internal Ukrainian crisis".

But the team is not expected to go to Crimea, which was formally annexed by Moscow on Friday.

"The mission's mandate reflects the new political and legal realities and does not apply to Crimea and Sevastopol, which became a part of Russia," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in its statement on Saturday.

OSCE monitors have made multiple attempts to enter the Crimean peninsula during the height of unrest but were repeatedly refused access at the border by armed men.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry insisted Moscow has the right of a tit-for-tat response to the second wave of sanctions imposed by the European Union over Russia's annexation of Crimea.

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Early on Friday, the EU’s 28 leaders agreed to add 12 more names to a list of 21 Russian and Ukrainian officials under visa bans and assets freezes.

Despite sanctions from both the EU and US, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law formally incorporating the Black Sea peninsula into Russia on Friday, less than a week after a referendum that overwhelmingly voted to join Russia.

"It's a pity that the European Council made a decision that is divorced from reality," the ministry's spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement on the ministry's website.

"We believe it is time to return to the platform of pragmatic cooperation that reflects the interests of our countries. However, of course, the Russian side reserves itself the right to give a comparable answer to the actions taken."

Additional reporting by agencies

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