Berlin: Russia has a "duty" to pressure pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to free OSCE inspectors they have held since Friday, the German foreign minister said.
"Russia has the duty to influence the separatists so that the members of the OSCE who are being held will be released as soon as possible," Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in a statement released today.
Steinmeier also warned the separatists that publicly exhibiting the OSCE observers and Ukrainian security forces as prisoners was "repugnant and rides roughshod over the dignity of those concerned".
"This is a violation of all negotiating rules and norms that prevail in tense situations like this one," he added.
Steinmeier said Berlin was working with the OSCE to find a solution.
The pro-Russian militants in Ukraine today presented the captured team of international observers as "prisoners of war", raising the stakes in the crisis as US President Barack Obama warned Moscow against "provocation".
The eight, including four Germans, were captured in the eastern town of Slavyansk on Friday since when they have been held in the city`s town hall. The rebels are also holding four Ukrainian OSCE representatives, but they have not been seen in public since.
One of the OSCE observers, a Swede who was said to suffer from diabetes, was freed late today and has left Slavyansk`s the town hall.