OSCE police mission in Donbas: how to agree on key points?

Author : Henneadiy Maksak

Source : 112 Ukraine

Russia proposes to keep the observers with pistols along the boundary line, while Ukraine insists on extensive powers of the OSCE police
14:32, 12 May 2016

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Once again, Ukrainian media has risen wave of interest concerning the armed OSCE police. The issue was voiced by the OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier. May 3, at a press conference in Vienna he said about creating of the mission.

But he hinted diplomatically: a quick decision on this armed OSCE police would not be quick. Find the consensus of 57 countries to offer Ukraine will be difficult.

How to agree the caliber?

The reason is on the surface. Kyiv and Moscow have very different opinions on the mission and its main tasks. A recent Putin’s statement that armed international observers can only be on the contact line, does not add much optimism.

Relatively speaking, not the right caliber.

Ukraine makes OSCE do everything possible and impossible: the armed observers throughout the territory which is not controlled by Kyiv.

It should be immediately noted that the format of armed international mission offered by the Ukrainian authorities, does not, actually, means the OSCE police mission.

Related: Ukraine peace talks: OSCE Mission in Donbas is necessary

The tasks and mandate implementation phase are different.

This is not the fault of Ukrainian diplomats and negotiators. They have elaborated an understanding of the problem. They are searching the format, which would not be called “peacekeeping,” but essentially would serve as peacekeeping.

Russia imitates at least some minimal discussion within the OSCE. We should not forget about the approving the UN program by the separatists. Formally, they are the part of the conflict.

So what is the difference between the stated positions that are currently the subject of the discussion at the OSCE level? Try to see it through the light of the proposed mandate of the mission, its territory and weapons, which the parties wish to provide.

The view of Russia: observers with pistols along boundary line

Russian position forms the lower bar of all the possiblities.

The least acceptable solution is not to make any decision, because there is no common denominator in the debate.

Related: Zannier: "Issue of giving weapons to OSCE employees in Donbass will be discussed"

Russian president declared the possible measures: the expansion of the mandate of the OSCE Special monitoring mission along the demarcation line. To enhance security he proposed using small arms.

This position may well meet the current behavior of Russia in terms of its approach to the implementation of the Minsk agreements.

The cease-fire is the first point, so the Kremlin formally agrees to support such a step.

Although in reality, this step adds no security. It is not an additional constraint for the offenders. This is a slight modification of helplessness of Special monitoring mission.

The armed missions on the occupied territories of Donbas would be immediately blocked by Russia as a threat to residents.

The time frame for such a mission could be discussed, but does Kyiv benefit from it?

Ukrainian position: heavy weapons and extensive powers

Unlike Russian opponent, Ukrainian president proposes a fundamentally new mandate. However, such proposals have less chance for consensus within the OSCE.

Related: Hug: OSCE Mission counts 699 monitors

Kyiv offers a new Special mission armed with a wide scope of powers.

Security component for international police contingent has three main components: monitoring of the contact line, withdrawal of heavy weapons, and the uncontrolled border area.

In some applications, Petro Poroshenko speaks about the ability to control withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied territory of Ukraine.

Humanitarian component includes preparation for the local elections in some regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. It should be based on international standards of the OSCE and Ukrainian legislation, control of security during the elections, and the transfer of authority from illegal groups to elected representatives of local government.

This approach means ensuring the security of the staff mission and the rule of law on the areas that are currently not under the control of Ukraine.

Ukrainian side proposes that SMM must have "heavy weapons." Now it is difficult to describe the quantitative and qualitative composition of such weapons. Although the set of tasks is logical and systematic, this position of Kyiv is unlikely to get support.

After all, it is a direct threat to Russian parity of forces within the uncontrolled areas. It virtually eliminates channels for rotation of separatists. The period of stay of an international mission should last for indefinite period.

Is consensus possible?

Consensus between Ukraine and Russia is hardly possible in terms of current positions of the parties.

The pressure of Western partners on Russia is unlikely to make Russia take some Ukrainian propositions, while pressure on Ukraine could cause a significant change.

Therefore, we can witness the modification Ukrainian position in security and humanitarian sectors.

The question is what is the "red line" for Ukraine, what is the critical point for the national interests? To provide these limits is impossible in principle. We cannot predict these possible changes, but we should identify their weaknesses and hidden threats.

Related: OSCE: Situation in Donbas getting worse

Related: OSCE: Ceasefire in Donbas neglected

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