Mission impossible: if we can arm the OSCE observers in the Donbass

Mission impossible: if we can arm the OSCE observers in the Donbass

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Observers of the OSCE mission on the territory LNR, 2015

Photo: ALEKSANDER GAYUK / AFP

On Thursday, the Kremlin announced the agreement on the deployment of armed of the OSCE mission in Donbass, than previously insisted in Kiev. But the outward solidarity of the parties is a different understanding of interpretations, what is behind this mission

Thursday, October 20, in the Kremlin told about the results of the negotiations “channel four” on the Donbass in Berlin the evening before.

One of the most important issues on which Moscow and Kiev disagreed, — the introduction of armed OSCE mission in the region. Last year the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko tried to negotiate with the UN to send a peacekeeping mission to the conflict zone, and later put forward the idea of the introduction in the Donbass police contingent of the EU. But these appeals did not find support in the UN and the EU. Poroshenko said that the mission needed to ensure control over the ceasefire regime, to control the withdrawal of weapons, ensuring the withdrawal of foreign troops from the territory and to ensure control of the border.

In the breakaway republics of Donbass to protest against the initiative of Kiev on a military mission going to rallies in may and June of this year. The self-proclaimed head of the Donetsk national Republic (DND) Alexander Zakharchenko said that the appearance in the Donbass armed police of the OSCE mission would be considered an “intervention.”

RBC sources in the foreign Ministry and a source close to the talks on Thursday afternoon confirmed: the Kremlin’s position has not changed, Moscow continues to oppose the introduction of armed OSCE mission on the territory of the breakaway republics.

However, immediately after talks in Berlin, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko saidthat Moscow agreed with Kiev about entering the military mission of the OSCE. And in the afternoon on Thursday, the Kremlin agreed to the mission confirmed the press-Secretary of Russian President Dmitry Peskov.

“Armed police, the OSCE mission… It can be called whatever you like. In General, the location of such a mission Putin in the negotiations agreed. And there is a common understanding. In this situation, Vladimir Putin spoke of the need to use the current German presidency of the OSCE, to intensify work on this issue”, — said Peskov told reporters Thursday.

The difference in interpretation

It is a question of interpretation of what is meant by an armed mission, says the source of RBC, close to the negotiations in Berlin with the Russian side. According to him, Moscow will not allow Kiev desired by the introduction in the Donbass foreign armed group of peacekeepers. It’s in the talks were about the strengthening of the OSCE observation mission in the areas of cultivation of forces and means and places of storage of the withdrawn funds heavy weapons.

Close to the Kremlin, the head of the Center for political conjuncture Alexei Chesnakov agree that the wording of the mission, most likely, is the issue of control over stockpiles of equipment.

“When we speak of armed missions, it is about the line of contact as said earlier, and Putin: after the withdrawal of forces formed a security zone can enter a reinforced contingent of the SMM [special monitoring mission of the OSCE, if necessary, armed service weapon (i.e. pistols). No more. Directly on the territory of Donbass there are no armed missions will not” — said the expert RBC.

The representative of DND at the talks in Minsk Denis Pushilin told RBC that President Putin is not the first time agrees to an armed mission at the line of contact between the militia and the APU.

“Because he knows that such a decision can only be taken by unanimous decision of all 57 countries — members of OSCE, — says Pushilin. — While not all of them for arming the mission, even pistols. Want it is only two countries — Ukraine and the USA. The other against. Including OSCE chairmanship Germany”. According to him, not what country wants to risk the lives of observers, random shooting can be involved in fighting the EU.

Pushilin sure to coordinate the introduction of armed missions should not only heads of States, but the parliaments of all OSCE countries, but it is “a long process, and while just a few countries would not support such a decision.”

Demilitarization zones

More certainty on the question of demilitarized zones. September 21 was signed the framework decision of the Trilateral contact group on settling the situation in Donbass on the breeding effort and money on the demarcation line. It involves the establishment of three security zones, with a minimum size of 2×2 sq km each. They included the settlements of gold, petrivs’ke and Stanytsia Luhanska.

To monitor compliance with agreements in areas were the observers of the OSCE SMM. The essence of these zones was to force both sides have been outside the firing range of small arms. At the talks the “Quartet” in Berlin, the parties agreed in the coming weeks to agree on a four plot of land for cultivation of forces and means (the security zone), said the source of RBC, close to the negotiations with the Russian side.

The creation of new zones following the talks, the Quartet reaffirmed at the conference of Poroshenko. According to him, in the previously agreed areas must be installed permanent monitoring posts of the OSCE, this will start the negotiations about the next four breeding parties. The Ukrainian party insisted to include areas of breeding effort has been debaltseve, which was taken by the militia in parallel with the second conclusion of agreements in Minsk in February 2015. The demilitarization of debaltseve was not supported by other Quartet members, denies the source of RBC, close to the Russian delegation.

“The talks between the leaders of the “Quartet” took place against the background of failure by Ukraine of the previously agreed withdrawal of forces in the area Stanitsa Lugansk and unsuccessful intrusion attempts of the Ukrainian troops in the southern regions of the NPT,” — said the source. In the Village Lugansk in contrast to other zones of cultivation of forces agreement broke down due to numerous attacks. Kiev and militias accused each other of violating safeguard agreements, and the situation on the border remains tense.

Step by step

Foreign Minister “channel four” agreed by the end of November to present a road map — an implementation plan reached in February 2015 with the Minsk agreements. The political part of Minsk agreements (on it in the first place insist in Moscow, the LPR and DPR) includes the Amnesty law, the law on elections in separate regions of Donbass, enshrined in the Constitution of Ukraine the special status of the region.

At the same time, the Ukrainian side focuses on the implementation of paragraphs “Minsk-2” in the field of security: to ensure sustainable ceasefire regime on the line of contact, withdrawal of heavy weapons and the withdrawal of foreign armed formations, the return of control over the boundary line.

Following the meeting in Berlin the leaders of the Quartet sparingly commented on the political part of the process of settlement of the situation in the Donbass. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the issue of military mission of the OSCE should be raised only after start of the electoral process in the Donbass, the mechanism of which the talks in Minsk are still not agreed upon.

“When will be the electoral law and the process of local elections will cook, then we can talk about the military mission of the OSCE,” — said the Chancellor. However, she believes that Ukraine needs to control its own border, “at the end of the process.” “Ukraine will have final control over their own border only at the end of the process, and before that we have the agreement that the OSCE observers can move freely to the border. Sometimes possible, sometimes problematic, and the Russian President noted” — said she.

Before the Quartet meeting in Berlin it was clear that the breakthrough will not be there, but certain steps in the direction of settlement is made, commented on the results of the negotiations RBC Chairman of the Board of the Ukrainian center of applied political studies “Penta” Vyacheslav Fesenko. In his words, for Kiev it is fundamentally important that worked “Ukrainian logic”, the sides mainly discussed security issues on the “Minsk-2”. “On the other hand, is clear: to sign a few documents, it is necessary to look at their implementation. And follow as the situation develops at the contact line, for example, is now intensively shelled Mariupol”, — said the expert.

According to Fesenko, if before the new year will be able to provide sustainable ceasefire on the contact line, the next step is consideration of the law on elections and entering the military OSCE mission, “And that’s progress from the point of view of Ukraine. After all, back in September the question was that the security during the elections should be provided to local law enforcement agencies”. According to Fesenko, to address the issue with the mission of Ukraine can also wait for the change of chairmanship of the OSCE: after Germany this place will be Australia.

More pessimistic folk MP from “Block Poroshenko” Vadim Denisenko. “The talks in Berlin completed. Armed with the OSCE mission should appear in the Donbas. In theory everything is fine. And very cool that Poroshenko, Merkel and Hollande forced Putin to reaffirm all obligations. There’s only one problem — while this is all nice words. In the Donbas nothing in the short term will not change. Armed with the OSCE mission is just a beautiful wrapper. No more,” he wrote in his Facebook.