Friday, 04 May 2018 18:26


Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 04.05.2018


It’s time to give an ultimatum to Russia: either the OSCE is permitted to monitor the Ukraine-Russia border or Russia gets kicked out of the OSCE.


Since Putin at war began his invasion of Europe in Ukraine, Russia has consistently blocked monitoring by the OSCE of the international border between Ukraine and Russia. By doing that, Russia is violating the Minsk Agreement and its obligations as a member of the OSCE. Even though Russia is the only one out of 57 members to want to stop the OSCE from doing its job, its unjustified objection stands as an effective veto to action. Despite Russia’s gross violations of the Helsinki Final Act by invading Ukraine, the other 56 members of the OSCE have not expelled Russia – destroyer of the peace of Europe.


The OSCE is the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe. Its founding document is the Helsinki Final Act of 1975. After Russia invaded Ukraine on 20 February 2014, OSCE members – who are limited to working by consensus – agreed to the establishment of a Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. The OSCE SMM, as it is known, has a constrained and deeply flawed mandate. Even though Russia is invading Ukraine in Crimea and Donbas, Russia is not recognized as an aggressor or as a party to the conflict by the OSCE. Putin’s War against Ukraine is called the ‘crisis in Ukraine’ by the OSCE. The OSCE SMM functions only in Donbas and not in Crimea. And in Donbas, the Russian Federation sharply restricts what the OSCE SMM can monitor.


In 2014, Russia captured 409 kilometres of the international border between Luhansk and Donetsk regions on the Ukrainian side and Rostov region on the Russian side. In violation of international law, Russia completely blocks access to the border to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, to the International Committee of the Red Cross, and to the United Nations. It severely restricts access to the border by the OSCE SMM to two border crossings only, for limited intervals. Even then, members of OSCE SMM monitoring teams are regularly threatened and ordered to leave by gunmen.


“Minsk” obliges the permanent monitoring of the Ukraine-Russia border and verification by the OSCE, with the creation of security zones “in the border regions” between Ukraine and Russia. Russia is going against the Minsk Agreement and the OSCE by stopping monitoring and verification of the border.


The other 56 members of the OSCE consistently try to do what is right, and extend the mandate of the OSCE mission to all 409 km of the international border adjacent to the temporarily occupied territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine. Russia consistently thwarts them. Despite this, Russia has not been expelled from the OSCE, and is even allowed to have its personnel serve as monitors on OSCE SMM teams. Ukraine is prohibited from having monitors serve in the OSCE SMM.


The OSCE has put itself in a bizarre and sinister predicament by refusing to acknowledge Russian aggression. Russia is invading Ukraine but remains a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. Russia is invading Ukraine but is allowed to put people on teams of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine – presumably to monitor their own invasion. Russia is invading Ukraine and stops the OSCE from monitoring the border to the country it is attacking. Russia is invading Ukraine but is not recognized as the aggressor or even as a party to the conflict that it started.


Over four years of Putin’s War against Ukraine has shattered the peace of Europe. It is long past time for the OSCE to deliver an ultimatum to Russia: allow monitoring of the border or get kicked out of the OSCE.

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