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Yaremenko: we need to trace who in the OSCE works for Russian intelligence

Yaremenko: we need to trace who in the OSCE works for Russian intelligence
Article by: Liudmyla Vannek
Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina

There has been more and more criticism of the OSCE on social networks recently, claiming that the observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe cooperate with Russia “not in Ukraine’s favor.” The reason was the recent OSCE report, which does not contain direct accusations of any of the conflicting sides, however, based on this document, Russia’s permanent representative in the OSCE Andrey Kelin concluded that the “shelling of the kindergarten (which is what Kelin himself called the building – ed.) was done from the direction and distance which clearly correspond to the locations of the Ukrainian troops near the airport and the locality of Pisky.” 

Social media users reacted to the OSCE’s report with thousands of messages and ironic images. Radio Liberty asked diplomat, chairman of the board of Maidan of Foreign Affairs Bohdan Yaremenko, who worked on the issue of the OSCE mission’s work in the Donbas conflict zone, to comment on the issue.

I would divide this issue into two. First and foremost, the statements of Russian representatives with the surname Churkin or anyone else. It is one matter. Whether they are representatives in the OSCE or the UN, they lie, they misinform the global community in the key which is beneficial to the Russian Federation, they stand for Putin’s policies. And we, Ukrainians, have no need to analyze such statements closely. This is the job of several professionals from the Ukrainian MFA, who have to comment and give a response. From the perspective of a regular user, discussing such comments made by Russian diplomats is nothing but propagating, spreading untruthful, falsified information of the Russian diplomacy about Ukraine.

As to the OSCE itself and the issue of the OSCE mission in Ukraine, it seems to me that the Ukrainian public, not without the help of the Ukrainian government, is inclined to believe in two very dangerous illusions.

The first illusion is that the OSCE is on Ukraine’s side, or should have been on Ukraine’s side. The OSCE now is an international organization and the members of the OSCE are Ukraine, Russia and, of course, another fifty plus countries, including the US, Canada and so forth. This is why the OSCE mission a priori cannot be on the side of one particular country. It is called to be independent and objective. In theory, of course. It should not maintain the position of a certain country. It is not obliged to help Ukraine.

This is where the second illusion Ukrainians are sometimes subjected to comes from – the fact that the OSCE should help solve the conflict in Ukraine. The Ukrainian President would like to think so, as he made the OSCE part of the Minsk Accords, however, in reality any professional knows that the OSCE is not a side in the conflict and the oSCE will not fight on the territory of Ukraine for Ukraine, and will do nothing to solve this conflict. What is more, there are no examples in OSCE history that these missions solve any kinds of conflicts. The only thing such a mission can do is sometimes achieve de-escalation, so decrease the level of tension between the hostile sides. However, as a rule, this is followed by something most Ukrainians will not like, in my opinion, namely, freezing the conflict.

But Information Resistance group coordinator Dmytro Tymchuk claims this organization frequently serves as a screen for Russia’s aggressive plans. Would you comment on this?

You know, we have to make sense of each individual instance. Of course, within the OSCE missions, as Ukraine was unable to state we are at war with the Russian Federation and declare a state of war, formally Russia, from the perspective of the OSCE, is not participating in the conflict. What does that lead to? That the representatives, Russian citizens, can be part of the OSCE mission on Ukrainian territory. This is a direct legal consequence which, again, was not a result of Russia’s machinations, but, in my opinion, Ukraine’s own inadequate actions.

Can there be observation without Russian participants in this mission? 

If Russia were acknowledged as a participant of the conflict, one of the participants of the armed conflict, of course, just like Ukraine, Russian representatives would not be included in these missions. But believe me when I say this would not change much. Possibly Russia would have fewer chances to use its spies in diplomatic missions for some practical tasks – however this would not yield any results from the perspective of an effective solution to the conflict. Which is why Ukrainian intelligence should trace who of the OSCE mission participants is not being professional or combining work with the OSCE mission with working for the FSB or other Russian intelligence services.

There are mechanisms to recall such people, as their direct management is the management of the OSCE, and not the government of Russia. There are chances to influence this. However, from the viewpoint of the official results of this organization, Russia has no opportunity to single-handedly, unilaterally determine what the OSCE will state, as it includes many countries. The heads of these field missions in Ukraine – I don’t know a single Russian citizens who is part of it. We, as a civil organization, are in contact with these representations, we have established dialogue, we know the people who work there. There are many professionals among them which, I can say openly, are even slightly inclined towards out country. However, as official representatives of the organization, they have to be the OSCE, they have to be objective and not take anyone’s side in their work

So, not exaggerate or panic?

Not exaggerate. This is why we have a representation in the OSCE, Ukrainian diplomats, to react professionally to these situations Russia (or some OSCE members) are trying to execute within the organization.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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