OSCE leader is tired of restraints to Ukraine mission by separatists




OSCE Secretary General Zannier complains about the lack of cooperation from Russia with the OSCE monitors in eastern Ukraine. The mission is in danger of becoming a tool for propaganda.

The OSCE plays a diplomatic and mediating role in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. 450 monitors are operating in the monitoring mission in the field. But now the 60 year old leader Zannier is being harsh on the separatists for the first time.

Die Welt: The attack by separatists in Mariupol last weekend is another low point in the war in eastern Ukraine. The international community, including the OSCE seems to be powerless.

Zannier: We mustn’t be let down by this. We need to put even more efforts into achieving a reliable truce. We are working on organizing a meeting by the trilateral contact group in Minsk as quickly as possible to work on this situation.

We are risking that our mission is being misused as a tool for propaganda.

Die Welt: The OSCE is supposed to monitor the withdrawal of heavy weapons. This has apparently not happened yet.

Zannier: We can’t assign responsibility for the lack of political progress with our people on the ground. We can only implement what has been agreed upon, and what all the participating parties then allow us to do. Facing the heavy fighting in eastern Ukraine, it is becoming more and more risky for us on the ground. It is almost a “Blue Berets” operation that we have adopted over there without being equipped for this. Therefore, we are now recruiting more civilians with a military background.                               

Die Welt: Russia and Ukraine are both members of the OSCE. Is this facilitating or complicating your work?

Zannier: It is our strength and weakness at the same time. The debates that we are having in the OSCE are tough. The discussion and atmosphere in the organization remind me of the cold war period. This has, of course, an impact on our work. One of our basic principles is the respect for territorial integrity of the participating States that Russia has violated when it annexed Crimea. Despite the disputes over this question we need to keep the Crimea topic on our agenda. We are indeed the right forum to contribute to an ease of tensions.

Die Welt: Up until now this hasn’t worked out though, what you can see in the course of events in Mariupol…

Zannier: Up until now, not much of what was agreed on in Minsk in September has been implemented. Therefore the OSCE can’t play a big role. We would like to enlarge our presence in the east to the Ukrainian- Russian border. The separatists, though, are blocking this.

Die Welt: Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko speaks about the presence of 9000 Russian soldiers in eastern Ukraine. Can you confirm these numbers?

Zannier: We have not seen soldiers. But the reason for this is that we are not allowed to go to the areas where fighting is taking place. The separatists don’t allow us to move freely outside of the city borders of Donetsk and Luhansk, especially not in the direction of the Russian border. We are dependent on collaboration with the militia. But they only take us where they want us to be. As a result we are risking that our mission is being misused as a tool for propaganda.

Die Welt: According to the Minsk Protocol the OSCE is supposed to monitor the border between Russia and Ukraine. How far are you capable of doing so?

Lamberto Zannier: We are only allowed to be in two places, controlling two checkpoints within the radius of 2 kilometres at a border that has 400 kilometres. That is obviously not enough. As Russia is claiming not to support separatists, it should be in it’s own interest to have international patrol on the whole border strip that Ukraine can’t control.  

The separatists got a fresh supply of equipment. […] The only other option is that those weapons must come across the Russian border

Die Welt: It is moreover the OSCE’s mandate to document what is happening in Ukraine. Can you tell us whether Russia is supporting the separatists with weapons?

Lamberto Zannier: Well, what we have seen in the last weeks is that the separatists got a fresh supply of equipment, among which there is also heavy weaponry. They don’t get these weapons from Ukraine and they also didn’t capture them. The only other option is that those weapons must come across the Russian border. We don’t have direct proof, but a logical assumption can be made.

Die Welt: Who shelled the bus in Volnovakha, an attack that killed 12 people?

Lamberto Zannier: We assume that this was committed by separatists. The attacks came from a direction that was controlled by the separatists.

Die Welt: But do you have better access to the Ukrainian controlled regions?

Lamberto Zannier: Yes, definitely. Ukraine has invited us to come to their country and is cooperating very well with us. We have free access, can move freely. On the contrary, there are big restrictions on the separatists’ side. However, our presence in the East has allowed us to establish direct contact with the separatists, which has proven to be useful more than once.

Die Welt: But why don’t you make your insights more transparent?

Lamberto Zannier: We can’t speculate in our reporting, but have to be able to verify information on the ground to be completely certain. This takes a lot of time. Until we have secured all the facts, a lot of new events may have occurred in the meantime.

Die Welt: What do you know about the shooting of MH17?

Lamberto Zannier: There are investigations and we have been interviewed on this issue. We have our view on the events, and anybody who compiles the facts that have been verified comes to a logical course of events. A slight uncertainty still remains though. We leave this to the prosecutors.



Translated by: Valentyna Polunina
Edited by: Stephanie Dowbusz
Source: welt.de

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  • Evelyn Myketa Livingston

    A tool for propaganda … no kidding ??

  • W8post

    OSCE : Go Home! osce says; osce discusses; osce complains……But what does OSCE do? NOTHING, except being ‘diplomatic’ = being diplomatic does NOT win a war! (neither side!)

    • Steve K

      But the OSCE’s whole purpose is to monitor and discuss. That is it’s mandate. It is a civilian organisation and has no direct power of enforcement.

      However, as the Secretary General stated in this interview that mandate is being severely disrupted by the Russian side, and there simply aren’t enough OSCE monitors in place. They have been trying to recruit 250 additional monitors for Ukraine since September, but those posts are still largely unfilled and virtually all applications have been from Russian citizens. If western governments aren’t willing to second monitors to the OSCE, we can’t complain that it’s dominated by the Russian side.

      • Doug Retter

        Talk is worthless, except for these talkers.

  • Rods

    Trying to do a good job in a difficult situation is never easy, but I think this is an attempt to politically justify the OSCE, while not recognising their well know problems and weaknesses, which are recognised by anybody that closely follows what is happening in Ukraine. I accept their role is that of impartial observers but I think he should of elaborated on the problems of Ukraine and Russia being members and he does not mention the compromises these cause. They need to face up to their far from transparent impartiality and how they will work to up their game to be more impartial in the future. To me it is a no brainer to not have any Ukrainian and Russian observers or they controlling agents from neighbouring countries. Until the OSCE is see as being impartial then their alleged blindness and their alleged OSCE spies reporting on Ukrainian military positions to their Russian controllers will continue to be in the news.

    The world including the OSCE need to recognise they are dealing with a terrorist sponsoring rogue state with Russia which reminds me very much of Libya under Gaddafi. Gaddafi a tin pot leader of a potentially rich oil petroleum state, but the money and wealth staying with him and his cronies, who stayed in power, at the expense of most of the county and hung on for along time, but became very vulnerable as Gaddafi’s macho image faded and his wrinkles, weaknesses and perverted lifestyle were increasing exposed. IMO this fate awaits, sooner than he expects Putin who at 63 looks well past his best and needs to keep his shirt tucked in!

    Putins and Russia’s globally disruptive attitudes to the world, their dangerous aggression, their vile sponsorship of terrorism and their indiscriminate veil of Ukrainian death and injury to innocent Ukrainian civilians, their rejection of political norms, international law and any vestige of decency (Brave Nadia Shevchenko a sad example) means they should be treated for what they are and totally isolated by the International community as a vile non-aligned, terrorist sponsoring state.

    The US and EU should not be trying to do deals with the devil as Putin will never respect any agreement and just use them as a tool of weakness for any geopolitical advantage he can obtain. Any deals with this devil will make the Ukrainian people’s position worse and also make the world a worse place. Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Hollande and other embarrassingly wet, weak, liberal left leaders need to recognise that their appeasement is making Ukraine, Europe and the world a much more dangerous and violent place that can only empower the vile Putin to go on and do more vile things to the people of the world. These very weak Western leaders need to recognise they are a big part of the problem that is making the world and potentially all of their citizens lives much worse. They need to up their game so they change from being a big part of the problem to becoming part of the solution.

    • W8post

      If you want a impartial group of observers like the OSCE is SUPPOSED to be, you choose members who have no relation with the problem which they are observing.

  • Dirk Smith

    At this point, why are they there? The world knows which side continues to kill innocent civilians, launch missiles from residential areas, and restricts where OSCE can do their job. Deeper sanctions, lethal aid to Ukraine, and designate the impotent dwarf as the state terrorist he is.

    • Czech Friend

      OSCE has failed and powers that be should seriously reconsider its function and modus operandi.

      • Doug Retter

        What exactly was their original purpose? Does anyone remember? Do THEY even remember!?

    • Chris Makey

      Your very correct

  • W8post

    HELLOoooo, OSCE, are you there??

    “And the blood of the Mariupol victims also on the hands of Putin’s “friends” and “’peacemakers’” in the West because they, sometimes “for selfish reasons and sometimes out of stupidity are helping Putin to avoid punishment for his aggression. By blocking pressure on his regime, they are extending the war.”

  • Richard Hoover

    osce is in Russia and is a united organization,,so demand OSAE can get near the seapartist,,if they refuse then your osce is in question who and what they stand for in Russia ,,and if Putin is controlling them,,then it should be decided in the OSCE that Russia is manipulating and cohersing the war and using OSCE as a propaganda weapon and that it should refrain representing them if morals are no longer controllable or even respected and totallly refuted by Russia as a show and joke they use as puppets! The way they use Democracy as window dressing they use OSCE IN RUSSIA