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OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine

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OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine
Formation21 March 2014
Dissolved31 March 2022
HeadquartersKyiv, Ukraine
Region
 Ukraine
Parent organization
Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe
Staff (2020)
700
Websitewww.osce.org/special-monitoring-mission-to-ukraine-closed
OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine in 2015
OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine in 2015

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine was an international civilian observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mandated to contribute to reducing tensions and to help foster peace in Ukraine. The mission was deployed in March 2014, following the Russian annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of open conflict in eastern Ukraine.[1][2] Following the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine, the mission discontinued its operations on 31 March 2022.[3]

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Background

OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine
OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine

In late 2013 protests began in Kyiv as a response to the decision of the then-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, to abandon the planned Ukraine–European Union Association Agreement.[4] After months of protests, the government fell and unrest spread to other regions in Ukraine, in particular the Russian-speaking eastern and southern regions.

On 1 March 2014, In response to the developing crisis, the Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE, Didier Burkhalter, proposed establishing an diplomatic contact group and an international observer mission during an address to the United Nations Human Rights Council in order to support Ukraine in facilitating a diplomatic solution to the crisis.[5][6]

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Euromaidan

Euromaidan

Euromaidan, or the Maidan Uprising, was a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on 21 November 2013 with large protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv. The protests were sparked by President Viktor Yanukovych's sudden decision not to sign the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement, instead choosing closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. Ukraine's parliament had overwhelmingly approved of finalizing the Agreement with the EU, but Russia had put pressure on Ukraine to reject it. The scope of the protests widened, with calls for the resignation of Yanukovych and the Azarov government. Protesters opposed what they saw as widespread government corruption, abuse of power, human rights violations, and the influence of oligarchs. Transparency International named Yanukovych as the top example of corruption in the world. The violent dispersal of protesters on 30 November caused further anger. Euromaidan led to the 2014 Revolution of Dignity.

Kyiv

Kyiv

Kyiv, also spelled Kiev, is the capital and most populous city of Ukraine. It is in north-central Ukraine along the Dnieper River. As of 1 January 2022, its population was 2,952,301, making Kyiv the seventh-most populous city in Europe.

Viktor Yanukovych

Viktor Yanukovych

Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych is a former politician who served as the fourth president of Ukraine from 2010 until he was removed from office in the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, after months of protests against his presidency. From 2006 to 2007 he was the prime minister of Ukraine; he also served in this post from November 2002 to January 2005, with a short interruption in December 2004. He currently lives in exile in Russia, where he has lived since his removal from office in 2014.

2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine

2014 pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine

From the end of February 2014, demonstrations by pro-Russian and anti-government groups took place in major cities across the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine in the aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity, which resulted in the success of Euromaidan in ousting then-President Viktor Yanukovych. The unrest, supported by Russia in the early stages of the Russo-Ukrainian War, has been referred to in Russia as the "Russian Spring".

Didier Burkhalter

Didier Burkhalter

Didier Eric Burkhalter is a Swiss politician who served as a Member of the Swiss Federal Council from 2009 to 2017. A member of FDP.The Liberals, he was President of the Swiss Confederation in 2014.

United Nations Human Rights Council

United Nations Human Rights Council

The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) is a United Nations body whose mission is to promote and protect human rights around the world. The Council has 47 members elected for staggered three-year terms on a regional group basis. The headquarters of the Council are at the United Nations Office at Geneva in Switzerland.

Mandate and structure

The mission was mandated to:

  1. Gather information and report on the situation in the area of operation;
  2. Establish and report facts in response to specific incidents and reports of incidents, including those concerning alleged violations of fundamental OSCE principles and commitments;
  3. Monitor and support respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights of persons belonging to national minorities;
  4. Establish contact with local, region and national authorities, ethnic and religious groups, and representatives of the local population;
  5. Facilitate dialogue on the ground in order to reduce tensions and promote normalisation of the situation;
  6. Report on restrictions of the mission's freedom of movement or other impediments to fulfilment of its mandate;
  7. Coordinate with and support the work of other OSCE bodies, including the High Commissioner on National Minorities, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, as well as cooperate with the United Nations, the Council of Europe and other international bodies.[7]

The mandate of the mission covered the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders. In 2020, the SMM consisted of around 700 Observers from 53 OSCE member states and additional local and international staff.[8] The headquarters was located in Kyiv and the mission was headed by the Turkish diplomat Yaşar Halit Çevik who followed Ertuğrul Apakan in this post.[9][10] The SMM used modern equipment to monitor the adherence of the parties to the ceasefire including drones and stationary cameras.[11][12]

The mission shared its observations publicly in different formats. This included daily reports, spot reports on specific incidents and thematic reports about general trends in their area of operation e.g. on the effect of the conflict on the access to education.[13][14] The mission also has its own YouTube channel where it shares videos of its observations. The most popular of those videos shows a Russian convoy clandestinely entering Ukraine and has amassed over 300.000 views.[15]

Timeline of events

OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine in 2015
OSCE SMM monitoring the movement of heavy weaponry in eastern Ukraine in 2015

The crisis deteriorated further with the intervention of the Russian Federation and its annexation of Crimea in March 2014.[16] The unrest in the industrial, Russian-speaking Donbas region of eastern Ukraine would later escalate[17] into the war in Donbas between Ukrainian government forces and separatist pro-Russian forces, including regular Russian troops.[18]

OSCE SMM engaging with the local population in 2015
OSCE SMM engaging with the local population in 2015

In an attempt to calm the situation, the OSCE decided to send the first one hundred observers of the Special Monitoring Mission on 21 March 2014.[7] The conflict, however, continued to escalate regardless until on 5 September 2014 when the first Minsk Protocol was signed between parties to the conflict, including Ukraine and the Russian Federation. This established a ceasefire and included provisions that the Special Monitoring Mission would monitor the ceasefire.[19]

This ceasefire was never fully implemented e.g. the separatists in eastern Ukraine refused to give up control of the border to Ukraine.[20] Accordingly, the ceasefire only held for a limited time and in early 2015 the war escalated again[21] until the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Protocol was signed on 12. February 2015 by the Normandy Format and reaffirmed the monitoring role of the Special Monitoring Mission.[22] Following this, the mandated maximum strength of the mission was extended to 1000 on March 12, 2015.[23]

Since then the conflict has stabilized but ceasefire violations still regularly occur and are reported by the SMM.

In 2017 one monitor was killed and two more wounded when their vehicle struck a landmine.[24] Subsequently, SMM patrolling was limited to asphalt and concrete roads. SMM monitoring effectiveness suffers from the presence of mines, unexploded ordinances and the low rate at which they are cleared, and from shelling by artillery and threatening behavior of armed personnel. This hinders SMM's ability to monitor the implementation of Minsk Protocol effectively because it restricts their access to areas and presents big risks to the security of SMM's civilian monitors.[25]

On 13 February 2022, a number of countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Canada, Slovakia and Albania began withdrawing their observers from the non-Ukrainian government controlled areas of eastern Ukraine.[26] The United States withdrew its observers from Ukraine entirely.[27] The final daily report including mapping of ceasefire violations was made on 23 February 2022, which recorded the observation of 1,420 explosions the previous day. The report recorded that in the previous year the mission had observed "36,686 explosions, 26,605 projectiles in flight, 491 muzzle flashes, 524 illumination flares, and at least 54,330 bursts and shots".[28]

On 24 February 2022, following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Secretary General Helga Schmid announced the temporary evacuation of SMM staff, with a view to resuming work as soon as circumstances on the ground permit.[29]

On 31 March 2022 consensus for the extension of the Mission's mandate was not reached, due to Russian opposition.[30]

On 19 September 2022, Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine have sentenced two former OSCE staff members to 13 years in prison on charges of treason. The OSCE regional authority body, consisting of Ukrainian and Russian representatives, protested the sentencing and urged "their immediate and unconditional release.” The arrests came after the OSCE invoked the Moscow Mechanism, condemning Russia's human rights violations.[31]

The mission discontinued its operations on 31 March 2022 following the 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine.[32]

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Russo-Ukrainian War

Russo-Ukrainian War

The Russo-Ukrainian War is an international conflict between Russia and Russian-backed separatists, against Ukraine, which began in February 2014. Following Ukraine's Revolution of Dignity, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and supported pro-Russian separatists fighting the Ukrainian military in the Donbas war. The first eight years of conflict also included naval incidents, cyberwarfare, and heightened political tensions. In February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation

Annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation

In February and March 2014, Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula, taking it from Ukraine. This event took place in the aftermath of the Revolution of Dignity and is part of the wider Russo-Ukrainian War.

Crimea

Crimea

Crimea is a peninsula in Eastern Europe, on the northern coast of the Black Sea, almost entirely surrounded by the Black Sea and the smaller Sea of Azov. The Isthmus of Perekop connects the peninsula to Kherson Oblast in mainland Ukraine. To the east, the Crimean Bridge, constructed in 2018, spans the Strait of Kerch, linking the peninsula with Krasnodar Krai in Russia. The Arabat Spit, located to the northeast, is a narrow strip of land that separates the Syvash lagoons from the Sea of Azov. Across the Black Sea to the west lies Romania and to the south is Turkey. The largest city is Sevastopol. The region has a population of 2.4 million, and has been under Russian occupation since 2014.

Donbas

Donbas

The Donbas or Donbass is a historical, cultural, and economic region in eastern Ukraine. Parts of the Donbas are occupied by Russia as a result of the Russo-Ukrainian War.

War in Donbas (2014–2022)

War in Donbas (2014–2022)

The war in Donbas, or Donbas war, was an armed conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine, part of the broader Russo-Ukrainian War.

Normandy Format

Normandy Format

The Normandy Format, also known as the Normandy contact group, is a grouping of states who met in an effort to resolve the War in Donbas and the wider Russo-Ukrainian War. The four countries who make up the group—Germany, Russia, Ukraine, and France—first met informally in 2014 during the 70th anniversary of D-Day celebrations in Normandy, France.

Helga Schmid

Helga Schmid

Helga Maria Schmid is a German diplomat who has been serving as the Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) since 2020.

Moscow Mechanism

Moscow Mechanism

The Moscow Mechanism, established in 1991, is a confidence and security-building measure among the 57 participating States of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). It complements and strengthens the Vienna mechanism, adopted in 1989. The two tools together constitute the so-called Human Dimension Mechanisms.

Monitoring restrictions

OSCE monitoring frequently faces access restrictions and signal jamming of the monitoring UAVs. In 2021 OSCE reported that 62.5% long-range UAV flights "encountered GPS signal interference" with jamming so strong, it occasionally prevented UAV from even taking off.[33] OSCE has on numerous occasions reported presence of Russian electronic warfare equipment in the separatist-controlled areas[34][35][36] including specifically anti-UAV Repellent-1 systems.[37] On 30 April 2021 OSCE further reported two members of armed formations approaching the monitor team as it prepared to launch an UAV and threatening it will be shot down if launched.[38]

Source: "OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, December 26th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OSCE_Special_Monitoring_Mission_to_Ukraine.

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References
  1. ^ "OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine - The Facts". OSCE. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Archived from the original on 9 October 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  2. ^ von Twickel, Nikolaus (2017). "Zwischen den Fronten: Was die OSZE Beobachter in der Ukraine leisten können, und was nicht" [Between the Fronts: What OSCE Observers Can and Cannot Do in Ukraine]. Internationale Politik. 2 (15): 48–53.
  3. ^ "OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (Closed)".
  4. ^ Zelinska, Oksana. "Ukrainian protesters flood Kiev after president pulls out of EU deal". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 11 November 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  5. ^ "OSZE-Vorsitzender Burkhalter schlägt Ukraine-Kontaktgruppe vor" [OSCE Chairman Burkhalter proposes Ukraine Contact Group]. Blick. 24 February 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  6. ^ Bradley, Simon (3 March 2014). "Swiss push OSCE 'contact group' to defuse crisis". swissinfo. Archived from the original on 16 November 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  7. ^ a b "Permanent Council Decision No. 1117". OSCE. Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Archived from the original on 26 October 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  8. ^ "As of 21 September 2020 Status Report" (PDF). OSCE. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 October 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  9. ^ "Ambassador Yaşar Halit Çevik". OSCE. Archived from the original on 10 October 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  10. ^ "New OSCE SMM chief monitor in Ukraine to take up office". UNIAN Information Agency. 31 May 2015. Archived from the original on 27 February 2021. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  11. ^ "News OSCE drone shot down while spotting Russian surface-to-air missile in Ukraine". Deutsche Welle. Deutsche Welle. 1 November 2018. Archived from the original on 13 October 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  12. ^ Gricius, Gabriella (25 April 2018). "OSCE Drones Reintroduced into Ukraine's Donbass and Donetsk Warzones". Global Security Review. Global Security Review. Archived from the original on 1 December 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  13. ^ "THEMATIC REPORT IMPACT OF THE CONFLICT ON EDUCATIONAL FACILITIES AND CHILDREN'S ACCESS TO EDUCATION IN EASTERN UKRAINE" (PDF). OSCE.org. OSCE. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 October 2020. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  14. ^ "New OSCE Report: Firing Increasing in Eastern Ukraine". Glasnost gone. Glasnost gone. 17 October 2020. Archived from the original on 16 November 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  15. ^ "OSCE SMM spotted convoys of trucks entering and exiting Ukraine in Donetsk region". YouTube. OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. Archived from the original on 11 January 2021. Retrieved 25 January 2021.
  16. ^ Salmen, Harriet; Walker, Shaun. "Kiev announces plans to withdraw Ukrainian troops from Crimea". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  17. ^ Salem, Harriet. "Deep divisions split Donetsk as tensions simmer across Ukraine". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 9 April 2016. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  18. ^ Sutyagin, Igor. "Russian Forces in Ukraine" (PDF). Royal United Services Institute. RUSI. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 January 2021. Retrieved 12 January 2021.
  19. ^ "Protocol on the results of consultations of the Trilateral Contact Group (Minsk Agreement)". United Nations Peacemaker. United Nations. Archived from the original on 24 September 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  20. ^ "Donesk and Luhansk People's Republics refuse to cede control over Border with Russia to Ukraine". Kiyv Post. 30 June 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  21. ^ Walker, Shaun (23 January 2015). "Pro-Russian rebels in Donetsk keep on the attack as war of words intensifies". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  22. ^ "Package of measures for the implementation of the Minsk agreements" (PDF). UN Peacemaker. United Nations. Archived (PDF) from the original on 18 October 2020. Retrieved 6 October 2020.
  23. ^ "DECISION No. 1162 EXTENSION OF THE MANDATE OF THE OSCE SPECIAL MONITORING MISSION TO UKRAINE" (PDF). OSCE. OSCE Permanent Council. Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 January 2021. Retrieved 21 January 2021.
  24. ^ "OSCE SMM car damaged in anti-tank mine blast in Donbas, casualties reported". UNIAN information agency. UNIAN information agency. Archived from the original on 26 February 2021. Retrieved 15 December 2020.
  25. ^ Haug, Hilde (2016-09-09). "The Minsk Agreements and the osce Special Monitoring Mission". Security and Human Rights. 27 (3–4): 342–357. doi:10.1163/18750230-02703004. ISSN 1874-7337. S2CID 168698517. Archived from the original on 2021-01-22. Retrieved 2021-03-19.
  26. ^ Zverev, Anton (13 February 2022). "OSCE monitoring mission staff pull out from eastern Ukraine". Reuters. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  27. ^ Choi, Joseph (13 February 2022). "US staff at OSCE withdraw from rebel-held eastern Ukraine city: report". The Hill. Washington DC. Retrieved 15 June 2022.
  28. ^ "Daily Report 42/2022" (PDF). Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. OSCE. 23 February 2022. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  29. ^ "Statement of the Secretary General on the temporary evacuation of OSCE staff from Ukraine". www.osce.org. Retrieved 2022-03-09.
  30. ^ "Chairman-in-Office and Secretary General expressed regret that no consensus reached on extension of mandate of Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine". www.osce.org. Retrieved 2022-03-31.
  31. ^ "Russian separatists in Luhansk convict ex-OSCE staff of treason" aljazeera.com. Retrieved 20 Sept 2022.
  32. ^ "OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (Closed)".
  33. ^ "Spot Report 6/2021: SMM long-range UAV unable to take off due to dual GPS signal interference". www.osce.org. Archived from the original on 15 April 2021. Retrieved 15 April 2021.
  34. ^ "Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 19:30 (Kyiv time), 16 August 2015". www.osce.org. Archived from the original on 9 June 2021. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  35. ^ "Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine, based on information received as of 19:30, 15 June 2016". www.osce.org. Archived from the original on 16 April 2021. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  36. ^ "OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 60/2020 issued on 12 March 2020". www.osce.org. 12 March 2020. Archived from the original on 16 April 2021. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  37. ^ "Latest from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), based on information received as of 19:30, 10 August 2018". www.osce.org. Archived from the original on 15 February 2022. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  38. ^ "Daily Report 99/2021" (PDF). OSCE. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2021-05-02. Retrieved 2021-05-07.
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