OSCE Operations in Ukraine and Russian Opposition in Vienna

PeopleDiplomats ♦ Published: November 3, 2022; 23:32 ♦ (Vindobona)

Russia represents an increasingly tough opposition in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, while the organization is trying to support Ukraine by all means. Despite a veto from Moscow, the OSCE has resumed its work on a limited basis in support of Ukraine despite the closure of the Special Monitoring Mission.

Russia is opposing the OSCE in Vienna and trying to prevent the organization's efforts to help Ukraine. / Picture: © Vindobona.org

Since the conflict in Ukraine began in 2014, tensions between the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and OSCE member states with Russia have repeatedly intensified. Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 and the war that has been going on for almost a year, the differences between the OSCE and Russia are deep. Russia is blocking the OSCE on many issues surrounding Ukraine and even had the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in eastern Ukraine suspended, as Vindobona.org reported.

While the OSCE is trying to maintain support for Ukraine by all means, Russia is trying to mount a tough opposition and undercut the international organization's attempts in Vienna to help Ukraine.

OSCE Operations in Ukraine

Due to the Russian Federation's position, the OSCE has decided not to extend the mandates of the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) and the Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine.

Helga Maria Schmid, OSCE Secretary General, and OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau underscored the importance of the OSCE field missions for supporting Ukraine. The OSCE remains committed to securing the release of the three former SMM staff members being held unjustifiably in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Both field operations have been an integral part of the OSCE's efforts to assist Ukraine and have played a crucial role "by assisting and advising Ukraine on internal reforms, providing objective information, facilitating dialogue where there was none, and working tirelessly under the most difficult conditions for the benefit of the Ukrainian people," Chairman Rau said.

"While we regret that consensus could not be reached on the extension of their mandates due to the stance of the Russian Federation, there should be no doubt that the closure will not change our determination to secure the release of OSCE staff who have been unjustly detained. Our officials should be released immediately and without preconditions," he stressed.

However, the OSCE is now trying to help in other ways. With some 70 staff members in Kyiv, the aim is, among other things, to strengthen psychosocial services, promote demining and curb illegal arms trafficking, OSCE diplomats reported today at the organization's headquarters in Vienna.

The OSCE had been running twice as many projects in Ukraine until the summer. They had to be stopped because Moscow blocked the necessary unanimous decision by all OSCE member states to extend the activities.

To circumvent the veto, the activities will in future no longer be financed from the OSCE budget, but with voluntary contributions from members. Germany, Poland, the United States and Nordic countries are among the states that have so far pledged about seven million euros for 23 projects.

Russian Opposition in Vienna

Russia is trying by all means in Vienna at the meetings of the OSCE to prevent the organization from supporting Ukraine. Most of the OSCE's attempts to send or maintain assistance missions and international observation missions to Ukraine are prevented by Moscow.

The Russian delegation to the OSCE feels "compelled to veto the attempts to support" Ukraine. In doing so, the delegation spoke of "the inability of the Polish Chairmanship-in-Office to hold a non-confrontational discussion on the events surrounding Ukraine" in the OSCE's decision-making body - the Permanent Council.

As previously described and reported by Vindobona.org, OSCE officials in eastern Ukraine are in Russian custody. These are being used by Russia as leverage to advance its own agenda in the OSCE.

Russia is doing everything it can to defame the "Kiev regime," as Moscow likes to call Ukraine. The Russian ambassador to the OSCE, Alexander Lukashevich, likes to use his speeches to portray Ukrainian President Zelenskyy as a terrorist. At the same time, Russia keeps trying to justify the war in Ukraine.


Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the OSCE