(QHA) -

The Organization For Security And Cooperation In Europe (OSCE) has agreed that up to 500 OSCE civilian observers will be deployed to Ukraine for six months, RFE/RL reports.

OSCE member states, including Russia, agreed to the move at a meeting late on March 21 in Vienna.

Russia had blocked earlier efforts by the OSCE to deploy observers.

The mandate does not permit the observers to deploy to Crimea, which Russia annexed this week in the face of opposition from Western states, who say they still consider Crimea part of Ukraine.

Andrei Kelin, Russia's chief OSCE envoy, said the peninsula was off limits for the observers because "Crimea is a part of the Russian Federation."