Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 02.10.2017
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 20, 2014 and has been attacking and illegally occupying Crimea and parts of Donbas ever since. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (OSCE SMM) refuses to say that Russia is a party to the conflict or that Russia is an aggressor or that Russia has anything to do with the Russian soldiers who are killing Ukrainians. Furthermore, Russia has its agents inside the Special Monitoring Mission. Ukrainians are banned from participating. Instead of expelling Russia for grossly violating the Helsinki Final Act, as it ought to do, the OSCE SMM has become an instrument for Russia to transform its invasion of Ukraine into a frozen conflict.
Ukrainians know what’s what. Especially in-the-know are Ukrainians around the Russian invasion battlefront and those who are in need of humanitarian assistance because of Putin’s War – approximately four million people, according to European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations of the European Commission. Ukrainians know that the soldiers attacking them in Donbas are Russian soldiers, commanded by Russian officers, paid by Russia, supplied by Russia, and buried without honour in Russia when they’re killed in battle. They also know that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission has some well-meaning people in it, but it is corrupted by the contaminating presence of Russians on the mission. An agent of the aggressor state cannot possibly be a fair witness to events. Russians on the OSCE SMM are spies for the invading army. They serve no other purpose.
Iryna Gerashchenko is Vice Speaker of Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and Ukraine’s humanitarian envoy to the Trilateral Contact Group. She has been active in trying to bring about the “all for all” prisoner exchange which is a requirement of the Minsk Agreements. In an interview with TSN TV on Sunday, October 1, Iryna Gerashchenko pointed out a few of the many ways that Russian invasion forces in Donbas and the Russian agents inside the OSCE SMM stop the Special Monitoring Mission from doing its job. The OSCE SMM has set up a continuously staffed position in Stanytsia Luhanska in free Ukraine, but the Russians refuse any observation on the south side of the Siverskyi Donets River from Stanytsia Luhanska in Russia-occupied Ukraine. The Russians prevent the OSCE SMM from visiting Debaltseve, which the Russian armed forces use to transfer weapons by railway from the Russian Federation. In an out-and-out violation of the Minsk Agreements, the Russians block all access of the OSCE SMM to the Ukraine-Russia border.
Instead of pushing back against the Russians for their violations (or pushing them out of the OSCE, as they should), the OSCE SMM has bizarrely doubled the number of Russian agents who serve as monitors, according to Iryna Gerashchenko. This is more than absurd: this is an obscenity. Iryna Gerashchenko is being a voice of moral clarity when she says, “There cannot be Russians, representatives of the aggressor country … Russians cannot be there.” Doubling the number of Russians in the OSCE SMM can only mean doubling the misery of Ukrainians who are the innocent victims of Putin’s War.
When the OSCE SMM allows aggressor Russia to corrupt from within and shuns defender Ukraine, it is going directly against the will of the OSCE’s own Parliamentary Assembly. The “Tbilisi Declaration” was passed on 5 July 2016. It states: “The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly urges the Russian Federation to stop aggression against Ukraine and to fully implement their obligations under the UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act and other norms and principles of international law.” Russia is the aggressor. The members of the OSCE say so. It’s long past time for the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to boot out the Russian agents. It’s long past time for the OSCE SMM to monitor everywhere in Donbas and everywhere in Crimea, right up to the Ukraine-Russia border at Rostov and the border at the Kerch Strait. The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly says it and the UN General Assembly says it: time for the OSCE to do its job.