(QHA) -

The Kremlin press service on May 1 reported that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to help free a team of OSCE observers that had been captured in eastern Ukraine, RFE/RL reports.

The Kremlin said following phone talks between the two leaders, "Angela Merkel made a request to help facilitate the release of military observers from a number of European countries including Germany." 

It added, "Both sides noted the importance of utilizing the mediating potential of the OSCE across Ukraine to the maximum degree."

Pro-Russian separatists who have been holding the group of OSCE observers since April 25 have said the captives are "NATO spies." 

One of the eight original captives was released for medical reasons. 

Earlier on May 1, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called for OSCE-sponsored talks between Kyiv and pro-Russian separatists in southeastern Ukraine.

QHA