Russia accuses OSCE of 'spying' for Ukraine
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) collaborated with the Ukrainian government in its fight against the Donbass republics and tried to cover up offences by Ukrainian nationalist forces, Russia’s deputy representative to the UN told a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday.
The accusations came as Dmitry Polyansky blasted Western powers, saying they were being hypocritical regarding the security crisis in Ukraine. The US and its allies pursue their own selfish interests rather than the interests of the Ukrainian people, when they fan hostilities in the east European country, the diplomat said.
“We obtained the latest proof of how dirty your tricks are in building a ‘rules-based order’ when we discovered proof that the OSCE special monitoring mission in Ukraine simply spied for Kiev instead of recording violations of the ceasefire,” he claimed. The official said Russia was collecting more evidence to make the case against the monitors.
Polyansky made more allegations as he brought up the seizure of official OSCE vehicles by Ukrainian nationalist troops in the city of Mariupol. He said there were reports that eight cars, some of them armored, were taken by the Ukrainians at gun point. One of them was later filmed with clear signs of use in battle. Similar reports came from other places in eastern Ukraine, he said.
“The OSCE leadership was aware of the problem, but they chose to hush up this fact as long as it could,” the Russian official claimed.
He added that such discoveries “undermined trust in international organizations where Western officials play a dominant role.” This lack of trust makes Moscow question any calls for a humanitarian ceasefire in Ukraine coming from the West, the official said.
“In practice, [the calls] demonstrated a desire to give Kiev nationalists and radicals a pause to regroup, receive new shipments of drones, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, and stage more inhumane provocations to spread lies about the actions of Russian soldiers,” Polyansky said.
Russia will differentiate between “pseudo-peacemaking” and genuine attempts to “help Ukraine take the long-necessary right decisions,” he said.
The OSCE was invited to Ukraine to monitor the situation in the country in March 2014, shortly after an armed coup in Kiev triggered a spike in tensions in the east. The Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) became a crucial tool in observing a truce between government forces and rebels, which was listed as the first part of the roadmap to peace set in the so-called Minsk agreements. OSCE monitors patrolled the disengagement line to check whether deployments of forces by the warring parties complied with the deal and to report any violations of the ceasefire.
The field mission was the biggest in the organization’s history, with as many as 814 international and 477 national staff involved and over 2,400 daily reports produced in eight years.
The mission’s mandate expired on March 31, with Russia opposing its extension. Moscow accused the OSCE of pushing Russian representatives out of the SMM even as the number of observers was increasing.
As he explained the country’s decision to withdraw its participation and funding, the Russian representative at the organization, Aleksandr Lukashevich accused the OSCE of taking Kiev’s side in treating the two Donbass republics as “a territory under control of some terrorists,” and virtually refusing to coordinate with them.
Last week, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics decided to ban OSCE monitors on their respective territories starting April 30. Both are investigating allegations of espionage by members of the mission. The government in Lugansk reported arresting two OSCE employees suspected of treason. Russia is conducting its own criminal investigation of the espionage claims.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.