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The OSCE in Ukraine: How to Make a European Country into a New Afghanistan

Officials from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, who modestly remained silent during the coup d'état in Ukraine and have not said a word about the tragedies in Odessa and Mariupol, have begun to raise a storm of activity around the «road map» for Ukraine. Some provisions of this document (it has not been presented to the general public, which, according to Sergei Lavrov, is the fault of Kiev and Washington) were discussed during negotiations between Swiss president and chairman of the OSCE Didier Burkhalter and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on May 7. However, on May 11 in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine referendums were held which confirmed the choice of the people in favor of the state sovereignty of the new republics which have arisen there. A fundamentally new political situation has taken shape...

In commenting on the results of the expression of the people's will, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized the need for comprehensive dialog between Kiev, Lugansk and Donetsk, as well as the need for real action on the part of the Kiev government to establish dialog with the regions. As Sergei Lavrov noted on May 12, «without involving the opponents of the regime in a direct conversation on coming out of the crisis, nothing will be accomplished».

However, Kiev stubbornly refuses to talk with the citizens in the Southeast and, strangest of all, OSCE mediators are understanding of this position. The abovementioned «road map» calls for four blocs: refraining from violence, disarming, national dialog and elections. «Ways of OSCE support for the Round Tables and the National Dialogue are being elaborated with the Ukrainian authorities. The Monitoring Mission continues to scale up and strengthen its capacities for facilitation, mediation, and disarmament support. Rapid Response Teams of the Monitoring Mission are being set up, as is a hotline for alerting the Monitoring Mission. A trust fund for a disarmament program is also being established,» says a report on the OSCE site. Meanwhile, Catherine Ashton's press office has stated that it has no information on specific steps being taken toward the implementation of the «OSCE road map». Turchynov and Yatsenyuk are advertising so-called «national unity round tables» which involve «dialog» only with forces under the junta's control under the watchful eye of the Right Sector militants, who have not disarmed; this renders them meaningless. Especially considering Turchynov's most recent statements that «antiterrorist operations» will continue.

Mr. Burkhalter, who for some reason hastened to call the referendums in the Donets Basin «unlawful» (apparently he considers the junta which came to power as a result of an armed uprising «lawful»), references the support of Moscow, among others, for his «initiative», but the organization he leads considers Russia to be to blame for all Ukraine's misfortunes. A report by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the High Commissioner on National Minorities places the blame for the events in the Southeast on «violent organized groups» which supposedly began arriving there in February. Citing «credible sources», the authors of the document assert that «many of these individuals came from neighbouring small cities or from across the border with the Russian Federation».

The ODIHR report also contains assertions of «human rights violations against journalists» and execrations of the corruption of the Yanukovich era, while totally ignoring the key role of the «Maidan» oligarchs - Poroshenko, Kolomoisky and others - in unleashing the crisis.

The report also speaks of a deterioration of human rights in the «Crimean region of Ukraine» after the «Russian incursion». «ODIHR's assessment of the situation in the regions of Ukraine visited by the HRAM found a significant number of serious violations of human rights. These include murder and physical assaults, as well as cases of intimidation and enforced disappearances. The victims were primarily pro-Maidan activists and journalists, and those in Crimea also included Ukrainian military personnel and members of the Tatar community,» says the OSCE paper. There is not a word in this document about the activities of terrorist gangs encouraged by the Kiev government and its minions at the local level. Neither the Crimean referendum, which averted a bloody conflict on the peninsula; nor the mass killings in Odessa and Mariupol; nor the use of heavy weaponry near Sloviansk and Kramatorsk by the junta's punitive troops - none of these exists for the OSCE functionaries.

The American representative to OSCE, Mr. Baer, who ardently supports the pathos of the report, makes note of its role in the context of facilitating «full access for international human rights monitors» in Crimea. Here one might recall the persistent attempts of certain people with OSCE mission mandates to insinuate themselves into the territory of Crimea in early March, as well as their contacts with Mejlis leaders. Then it was possible to prevent the appearance of these provocateurs, but their planned «mission» on the territory of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics could do a lot of damage. It is sufficient to recall the recent detention of 11 «OSCE observers», who turned out to be officers from NATO countries, by the Sloviansk militants. The well-known activities of the «OSCE missions» (essentially prereconnaissance parties) in Kosovo, South Ossetia and other conflict points leave no grounds for optimism in this regard. The OSCE's intention to deploy «to the full» in Ukraine creates the sensation that this could lead to new tragedies like the ones in Odessa and Mariupol...

The most recent statements of OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier are also puzzling. Having hailed «the efforts of the Ukrainian government to hold a dialog with Russia» (I wonder where the OSCE saw such efforts?), Mr. Zannier began expanding upon the upcoming «Ukrainian presidential election» on May 25, calling it «an important step in overcoming the crisis» and «the largest operation in the history of the OSCE». Hundreds of «observers» will be recruited to «monitor» it, among whom there will obviously be colleagues of those who were ejected from Sloviansk.

The election, which will most likely result in Pyotr Poroshenko being declared the head of state, will not lead to a resolution of the problems which are tearing Ukraine apart. On the contrary, they can only stir up the crisis; it is sufficient to recall Yulia Tymoshenko's recent statement that she is prepared to go to the end if she does not win the election.

In these circumstances, the referendums on the independence of Donetsk and Lugansk are an understandable, natural act of self-preservation, an attempt to build new state structures (including defensive forces) to protect themselves from the chaos which is building in Ukraine, damage to infrastructure, and the absolute power of local magnates and «private» bands of thugs, like those in Afghanistan or the rebel-occupied parts of Syria. Pashynski, the head of the administration of the Kiev junta, has stated that the experience of Afghanistan will be used in organizing the May 25 elections. Let us note that many attributes of this experience are already present, but the role of the Taliban is being played by Right Sector militants, the disarmament of whom is not even mentioned in OSCE recommendations, and American mercenaries from private military companies. Incidentally, in the OSCE «road map» a vague structure called the «trust fund for a disarmament program» is mentioned; who can explain just what that is? For instance, will the fund facilitate the return of weapons stolen from depots in Western Ukraine in February, or is this talking about unilateral disarmament of the defense forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics?

In a word, questions, questions... If a respected European organization is going to draw Ukraine into a bright «Afghan» future with a stubbornness worthy of other use, its «mission» in this country will face a devastating failure. And those who do not want their regions turned into «wild lands» like the Syrian «emirates» or the Afghan «tribal zones» will most likely follow the example of Donetsk and Lugansk.

[Source: By Andrey Areshev, Strategic Culture Foundation, Moscow, 17May14]

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