The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has decided to close down its special monitoring mission for Ukraine amid Russia’s ongoing full-scale invasion and war. The decisions was announced by acting head of OSCE, Poland’s foreign minister Zbigniew Rau, and secretary general of OSCE Helga Maria Schmid on April 28.
However, OSCE will continue operating in Ukraine in accordance with its other mandates, said Rau.
“The current Polish presidency (of the OSCE) will keep cooperating with participating states in order to seek alternative options for further OSCE activities in Ukraine,” the Polish foreign minister said.
OSCE’s Schmid added that the organization will start immediate operational, administrative and financial steps to close down its monitoring mission in a responsible and economically efficient manner.
The personal security of mission employees on all Ukrainian territories remain a key priority, she said.
“We’re continuing to do everything possible day and night to support our Ukrainian colleagues, we’re continuing through all channels at our disposal to stop arrests, intimidation and disinformation that are harmful for the mission servants coming from different countries,” she said.
The OSCE launched its special monitoring mission for Ukraine on March 21, 2014 after receiving a request from the Ukrainian government. All of the 57 member-states of the OSCE voted in favor of the decision.
The mission was tasked with monitoring and reporting the situation in the Donbas region to the OSCE hierarchy. Besides collecting information, the OSCE promoted peaceful dialogue between Ukraine and the Russia-occupied territories of the Donbas.
After Feb. 24, 2022, when the Russian army invaded Ukraine, the Kremlin blocked the work of the OSCE special monitoring mission in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, and detained some of its employees in the Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine.
Lyudmyla Denysova, Ukraine’s human rights commissioner, said that by blocking the OSCE’s work in the Donbas Russia is trying to hide evidence of the war crimes it has committed in that region.
On April 24, Russian invaders took several OSCE missioners as hostages. That happened in the Russian-occupied parts of both Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. The OSCE is asking for their immediate release.
Ten days prior to this, an independent expert commission initiated by the OSCE Moscow Mechanism filed a report that provides well documented evidence of the human rights violations as well as violations of international humanitarian law during Russia’s war against Ukraine. The list includes a number of war crimes committed by Russian soldiers.
This report is 100 pages long and is a basic document for analyzing the human rights violations committed during Russia’s full-scale invasion on Ukraine.