Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will not take part in the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Ministerial Council meeting due to the attendance of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko said on 28 November.
“The presence of the Russian delegation at the ministerial meeting for the first time since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine will only exacerbate the crisis that Russia has driven the OSCE into,” Nikolenko said.
Russia has “systematically blocked consensus on key issues” within the OSCE by “resorting to blackmail and open threats.” The ministry accused Russia of taking the OSCE “hostage” to its “whims and aggression” by its actions in Ukraine.
In addition, Nikolenko mentioned that Russia has illegally detained three Ukrainian OSCE representatives who have been in prison for over 500 days.
Ukraine expressed gratitude to North Macedonia for prioritizing the issue of countering Russian aggression against Ukraine during its 2023 OSCE presidency. However, Ukraine believes Lavrov’s presence at the meeting would undermine this stance.
“In view of this, Ukraine’s delegation will not take part in the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting at the level of the Minister of Foreign Affairs,” he added.
The OSCE Ministerial Council meeting is to be held on 30 November – 1 December in North Macedonia in Skopje.
According to Radio of Liberty, the Foreign Ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania assured that they will also not take part in the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting. In a joint statement, the Foreign Ministers of these countries “regret the decision on Lavrov’s personal attendance at the OSCE session, as this is yet another possibility for Russia to engage in propaganda.”
“Lavrov’s presence at the OSCE meeting risks legitimizing Russia as the aggressor as a lawful member of our community of free nations, downplaying Russia’s egregious crimes,” said the statement.
Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry specified that the country “will temporarily open its airspace” for Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s plane. This will allow him to attend the OSCE meeting in Skopje.
“Bulgaria has granted permission for the transit of Russia’s Special Aviation Detachment through the territory of the airspace of the Republic of Bulgaria to carry out the flight transporting the delegation to participate in the international forum,” the statement reads.
The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said that “the overflight is temporary and will be valid for 3 hours up to 72 hours after the scheduled date and time of the overflight.”
In July 2023, OSCE adopted a final declaration called Russia a state sponsor of terrorism and the private military company Wagner Group, a terrorist organization, Yevheniia Kravchuk, member of the Ukrainian delegation in PACE.
This was the first time the statement “Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism” was enshrined in an official document of an international organization.
The OSCE called on member states to strengthen international norms that clearly recognize the responsibility of the Russian Federation as a sponsoring state of this terrorist organization; and the unacceptability of involving such entities in interstate relations.