The visit of the head of the OSCE Kurtz Donbass: can Austria to turn the tide in favor of Ukraine

Today ends a two-day visit of the head of the OSCE, Minister for foreign Affairs of Austria Sebastian Kurz to the Donbass. The main Austrian diplomat with the delegation saw with my own eyes the consequences of Russian aggression in the Grape and, together with SMM, the OSCE has traveled on human settlements Donetsk region on the boundary line.

The Ukrainian question Kurtz called the main agenda of the OSCE’s work this year Germany gave Austria the chairmanship of the Organization. In General, the plans of the Austrian presidency of the OSCE ambitious: the de-escalation of the existing conflicts, restore inter-state confidence-and counter-radicalization, which is a threat to many States. Ukraine insists on expanding in the Donbass armed police of the OSCE mission. This requires the consent of all the 57 countries members of the Organization. But most importantly, your voice gave, and Russia. This task failed during Germany’s chairmanship in the OSCE. Cope if Austria is also a big issue, since in addition to the consent of the 57 member countries considerable funds are required to Finance police mission – more than 1 billion euros. And the attacks of the same Kurtz in the direction of Russia, his statement about the possible lifting of sanctions can say that Austria is more likely to be on the side of the Kremlin, which is his vision of the mandate and size of the police mission.

Officially, the priorities of the Austrian presidency in 2017 Sebastian Kurz will announce on 12 January in Vienna at the permanent Council of the OSCE. Previously the head of the Austrian foreign Ministry said that the OSCE will be able to find the way to solve “conflicts on the continent, including Ukrainian”. For this, Kurtz decided to personally visit the Donbass.

“Clearly able to see the situation in the East of Ukraine, visited the checkpoint, “Food” together with the Special monitoring mission of the OSCE (and also passed the city hall of Mariupol anti-tank decals – Ed.). Our goal, as the OSCE is that the agreement on ceasefire is respected fully and the situation for local people has improved. We need to continue the negotiations, and the Minsk agreement – a single database, a single document, based on which we can do it… I am completely dissatisfied with the status quo that is now, but, for want of any other basic document, we must do everything to implement them”, – said today Kurz.

The head of the Ukrainian foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin said that everyone understands that we need to force Russia to fulfill the Minsk agreements, “It looks simple: stop the shooting, grant the mission of the OSCE full access to the Donbass, uncontrollable the Russian-Ukrainian border. In the end, give hostages, let at least the Red Cross international humanitarian organizations, to help give the occupied Donbass”. According to him, Sebastian Kurz again will come to the Donbass in less than two weeks from January 15 – 25th anniversary of relations between Ukraine and the OSCE. “We agreed to mark this anniversary event and concert Lugansk Symphony orchestra, which is now in Severodonetsk,” – said Klimkin.

The Ukrainian foreign Ministry on the eve of the visit of the OSCE Chairman stated that speech at negotiations will go on unfolding in the Donbas armed police of the OSCE mission. But this was during a small press briefing, the parties did not say a word. Armed police mission – the Ukraine’s initiative. She replaced the “blue helmets” of the UN. In the security Council, Russia has veto power, so will never allow peacekeepers to the Donbass. But the decision about the deployment of police armed mission to knock out the OSCE is not so easy. This requires the consensus of all the 57 countries members of the Organization, including Russia. During the last meeting of leaders “channel four” in Berlin on 19 October Vladimir Putin made a preliminary agreement on the deployment in the Donbas police mission.

“Armed police, the OSCE mission… It can be called whatever you like. In General, the location of such a mission Putin in the negotiations agreed. And there is a common understanding. In this situation, Vladimir Putin spoke of the need to use the current German presidency in the OSCE to enhance its work on this issue”, – said Putin’s press Secretary Dmitry Peskov.

But Germany, as we have seen, has not coped with this task, as Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that nobody in the OSCE supports the establishment of a military mission, despite the prior consent of Putin. In fact, as previously wrote “Segodnya” that is his vision of the mandate, size and equipment of the police mission. “Preliminary agreement has been, including Vladimir Putin, just the maintenance of armed police mission, which invests each of the parties, namely Russia and Ukraine, different. Russia is interested to devalue, discredit the very idea of the mission, to make it with a very limited mandate, without heavy weapons, small, to make it a minor factor for the development of further events in ORDA”, – said the representative of Ukraine in the political subgroup of the Trilateral contact group with the speaker.

Now part of the special monitoring mission (SMM) of the OSCE in the Donbass employs 600 people. But, first, they do not monitor the situation at night, when the militants opened fire on our positions, and secondly, their number and mandate are limited, they do not have access to the occupied territories and to the border. “Of course, the work of the mission could be improved. Still has room to grow mission. The main thing I’ve heard to complain that the mission’s works around the clock. It should be noted that the situation would be much worse if it were not for this mission. We will fully support the work of the mission not only by technical means. We will do everything to ensure that observers could perform their task as efficiently as possible,” promised Sebastian Kurz.

Ukraine has repeatedly raised the issue of increasing the number of today’s OSCE SMM to at least 1.5 thousand people. But as always against Russia. As for armed police mission, reluctantly teeth, the Kremlin can only agree with the weapons, but not tolerance of “peacekeepers” on the border and all occupied by Pro-Russian militants Donbass. Sources “Segodnya” in the presidential Administration of Ukraine said that the Russian side proposes on the site of an uncontrolled border in the 462 km to place only three or four transmission, which will allow police officers to the OSCE. Similarly, the Kremlin proposes to make and the occupied territories, allowing the OSCE tolerance only in points of withdrawal of heavy equipment and weapons. Besides, according to Olga Aivazovska, unfolding in the Donbas this mission, it is expensive – it takes about 1 billion euros per year.

“From the budget, which is today the OSCE, 170 million euros, 100 million euros pledged for Ukraine. And now a very important question, will they be able to allocate such huge funds for further financing of the finding of representatives of the OSCE in the Donbass, as the line of control and for the Humanities. When they took the decision to send representatives here, they had an understanding that this conflict should not take a long time. And we for the third year have. For them the challenge of how to continue funding this issue remains open”, – he told Segodnia” vnefraktsionnyh MP Serhiy Taruta, who was part of the Ukrainian delegation at the negotiations with the Austrian diplomats.

It is unlikely that such European heavyweights as France and Germany on the eve of elections have themselves agreed to the financing of the mission, and most importantly – its police to send to the Donbas, where the war is. Besides Austria, which is chairing the OSCE, is already preparing for the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2018. This, according to experts, can be attributed to the recent statement by Sebastian Kurz in an interview with Der Spiegel about a possible gradual lifting of sanctions against Russia. After all, the last at the end of last year in Austria’s presidential election showed the popularity of right-wing politicians: in the second round together with the winner, the former leader of the “Green” Alexander van der Bellekom went Pro Norbert Gopher. He is the representative of the “Austrian freedom party”, which in early December 2016, signed a cooperation agreement with “United Russia”.

Today’s rhetoric of Kurtz is strongly reminiscent of the behaviour of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who did not want to ratify the Association Agreement with Ukraine. Yes, on the one hand because of the results of the referendum, on 6 April 2016 in the Netherlands, when the Association voted 61% of participants in the referendum, more than 38% (the turnout was of 32.28%). On the other, the referendum was Advisory and more than half a year, EU leaders urged Rutte to ratify the Agreement. But in pursuit of the votes of the opposition electorate (not just the extreme right in the Netherlands did not want the ratification of the Agreement with Ukraine) Rutte speculated on the Ukrainian question and agreed to ratify the Agreement only with the adoption of an additional document, which Ukraine doesn’t apply for EU membership, EU money, and the Ukrainians – to work in the EU etc.

In Austria as in the Netherlands, Germany and France are gaining momentum ultra-right forces and policy. And rhetoric, Sebastian Kurz sanctions may be associated with the game to the opposition electorate. In fact, according to the Ambassador of Ukraine in Austria Alexander Scherba, Kurtz has all chances to become the new Austrian Chancellor. In addition, the possibility of easing sanctions against Russia to date, due not only to the implementation of the Minsk agreements, but also with the position of the Administration of Donald trump. In fact, according to experts, if the United States will begin to ease sanctions against Russia, the European Union to keep unity on this issue will be extremely difficult.