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NATO chief Stoltenberg insists cease-fire monitors must get full access in eastern Ukraine

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CASTEAU, Belgium — NATO's secretary-general on Wednesday insisted international observers be given the freedom of movement and the protection they need to monitor the cease-fire in Ukraine.

Jens Stoltenberg said that if monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe are not provided with what they need to work, there can be no certainty how many heavy weapons are being moved or where they have been transported to.

PHOTO: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Philip Breedlove address the media at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. NATO's secretary-general is insisting international observers be given the freedom of movement and protection they need to monitor the cease fire in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Olivier Hoslet, Pool)
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Philip Breedlove address the media at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. NATO's secretary-general is insisting international observers be given the freedom of movement and protection they need to monitor the cease fire in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Olivier Hoslet, Pool)

There is still a Russian presence in Ukraine's east, including delivery of weapons and strong support for local pro-Moscow separatists, NATO's top civilian official said.

Ukraine's president said Tuesday that government and rebel forces have pulled back most of their heavy weapons in the east, but each side accused the other of stalling on complying with other terms of a cease-fire deal.

"Right now, we do not know what is happening on that border," said U.S. Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO's supreme commander in Europe.

Stoltenberg said he was "disappointed" that Russia on Tuesday announced its withdrawal from a consultative committee on conventional forces in Europe. He said NATO believes it remains important to continue to have consultations with the Kremlin on arms control and arms limitation.

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