Comment by Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on the end of mandate of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM)
1 April 2022 15:23
The mandate of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine expired on March 31. For eight years (the SMM was established by the OSCE Permanent Council's Resolution 1117 of March 21, 2014), Russia was rendering it all-out political, financial and personnel support. We regarded the Mission as an important part of the international toolbox intended, among other things, to help normalise the situation and achieve a political settlement in eastern Ukraine.
Given the current political and legal realities, it is no longer possible for the Mission to perform its functions under the former mandate, which covered the territory of the now independent Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR). In this connection, Russia did not support its extension to the next year. This means that the Mission's further activities lack the consensus support of the member states and consequently cannot be carried out de jure. We call on the OSCE Secretariat to immediately begin phasing out the SMM, selling its property, ending employment contracts with its personnel, and settling the contractual obligations to the suppliers of services and landlords.
De facto, all of the SMM's monitoring and reporting functions were terminated on March 7, when all its foreign employees were pulled out of Ukraine, the DPR and LPR. We would like to point out that any new cases in which OSCE property temporarily remaining in Ukraine, specifically armoured cross-country vehicles, falls into the hands of Ukrainian armed units are unacceptable.
We give credit to the work done by the SMM employees. The SMM's international monitors included Russian nationals, who selflessly performed their duty.
Regrettably, faced with constant opposition on the part of Kiev and its Western patrons, the SMM leadership failed to get across to the international community the full amount of information collected by the monitors, information about ceasefire violations as well as destruction and civilian casualties in the DPR and LPR as a result of the punitive operation pursued by the Armed Forces of Ukraine and nationalist battalions. Over time, professionalism and impartiality in the Mission's work increasingly gave way to a selective approach to facts and political bias.
The SMM leadership clearly played up to Kiev and failed to comply with the mandate where it prescribed to establish normal working contacts with the authorities and residents in Donbass. The Mission mostly neglected to monitor the human rights situation, including the status of ethnic minorities and media freedom throughout Ukraine, yet another task within its sphere of responsibility. It in no way reacted to the spreading plague of aggressive, Russophobic nationalism and neo-Nazi ideology. There was a striking contrast between the benign picture painted by SMM reports and the real state of affairs, which is being increasingly revealed today.
This approach has done serious damage to the reputation of the SMM and the OSCE as a whole, making it seem like the monitors are blind and deaf. And so, the important practical results of the Mission's effort, including providing the necessary security conditions for repairs on the critical infrastructure in Donbass, were not so notable against this background.
We hope that the member states and the OSCE Secretariat will learn the necessary lessons by analysing the achievements and shortcomings of the eight years of the SMM's work.
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