‘The OSCE has very difficult task monitoring Minsk deal implementation’

Reuters / Gleb Garanich
The OSCE is facing a difficult task monitoring the military hardware withdrawal by the opposing sides in Ukraine given the distances and the territory involved, Martin McCauley, author and Russia analyst, told RT.

The deputy chief of the OSCE mission to Ukraine said Thursday “We welcome mutual steps by both sides to commit to the peace process”.

RT asked Martin McCauley why there wasn’t a word of praise during the three days that the anti-government forces had already been pulling their artillery back.

According to the analyst, “we’ve got to look at the situation in Eastern Ukraine.” The rebel forces in the region have won and therefore they can say that they were withdrawing the heavy weaponry because they were on no danger of losing their territory.

“But if you go back to Kiev, Kiev has lost. And therefore if they are withdrawing their heavy weapons apparently back 450 km, in many ways it’s a defeat for them. So therefore they are not going to have a brass band playing and proclaim that they have done something wonderful and so on because from that point of view it is basically accepting a defeat,” he said.

READ MORE: OSCE ‘welcomes’ artillery withdrawal by both sides in E. Ukraine

RT:The OSCE has repeatedly said it needs to know where the armor was being taken to. Yet throughout the past three days, we've heard anti-government forces announce the destinations publicly, in media conferences. Why can't the OSCE go there and see things for themselves?

MM: Obviously, it’s a tremendous task if you look at the distances and look at the amount of territory they have to cover and so on; they may have not the personnel to do that. But the other thing is that for them in the east is unchartered territory and they may not be very certain themselves, and they would like to have more detail and have, as you say protection, so that there are no incidents and so on. From their point of view it’s going to be a very complicated business because they are supposed to check all the inventories of heavy equipment and other war material from the frontline back to somewhere else and also on both sides. That will be a long process, it’ll take more than one day, two days, three days to do that, and then the OSCE will have to go in and verify that and at present they are having difficulty in verifying all these withdrawals.

RT:The monitors are there at the frontline; can't they just make sure there are no weapons in the buffer zone? Isn't that a good enough start for peace which is needed out there?

MM: Certainly it’s needed, and presumably they will do that. One would have to ask them why they haven’t gone there already. They will say “we haven’t been able to go there, we haven’t received permission, and it is perhaps unsafe for us” and so on. Or perhaps “it has a large frontline, a large territory; we don’t have personnel that can cover the area in a very short time.” It takes time from that point of view. And then they can then go and monitor and confirm there are no heavy weapons in the territory which they are monitoring because it is supposed to go back certain number of kilometers and you can monitor that. The OSCE has a very difficult task and they will say they are doing it but it will take time.

RT:How fair is the OSCE's demand to know all the routes and plans of the withdrawals, considering the Minsk agreement didn't require that?

MM: I think the OSCE wants all the information it can, so it can verify what it’s going on, they want to know the routes and how much and where this heavy equipment ends up. So from that point of view it will make sense because they will then report and say “right, all this heavy equipment, and then will list all the heavy equipment as been moved a certain number of kilometers back and it ended up somewhere else, and that place has been identified.” And from their point of view then they will have completed their mission. At present they are in a process of doing that and presumably they will ask for more information, they can’t really expect to receive all the answers they ask because that’s the nature of the situation like this as it’s fluid and so on, but they hope to get most of the answers so they can complete their mission.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.