The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is being forced to change how it operates as a result of Russia’s refusal to cooperate.
US Ambassador to the OSCE Michael Carpenter stated: “When Russia puts up roadblocks, there’s no more trying to abide by rules of procedure that were formulated when we operated as a consensus-based organization.”
Moscow has been delaying the organization’s budget clearance over the past few months, putting the 57-member security body’s global operations in danger.
The OSCE, which was established during the Cold War, is the only European security forum that brings together Europeans, Russians, Americans, and Ukrainians. Its main responsibilities include conflict resolution, peacekeeping, and election monitoring.
Russian Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin was quoted as saying in April that Russia has chosen to “suspend the payment of 2023 contributions and to re-offset for this year the contribution Russia paid in 2022.”
“We shouldn’t pay for activities in which we weren’t involved. We will demand a refund of the prior donation if we are further prohibited from working this year, Volodin continued.
At this point, it is obvious that Russia has no interest in adhering to the core principles on which we operate, Carpenter added, so we will work around them.
Moscow can veto any actions that would go against its interests because all decisions must be supported by agreement.
NOT ONLY ONE ISSUE
The OSCE members have devised inventive ways to get over Russia’s veto to avoid collaborating with their Russian counterparts.
“We’ve managed to work around Russia’s obstructionism since the start of the war, and I’m convinced that we’re going to do it on the budget as well,” Carpenter said.
Carpenter noted that Russia is throwing several stumbling blocks in the OSCE’s path, but the funding issue is just one of them.
He claimed that Moscow had “kidnapped three OSCE national staff members who used to work for the special monitoring mission, […] stolen OSCE vehicles, and […] transgress[ed] every single one of the Helsinki Final Act principles,” calling that “possibly the least significant of the things it has done.”
Carpenter claimed that the act of pursuing an aggressive war against Ukraine was likely the most significant component of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe is being attacked, he continued.
He told that “we have established a Support Program for Ukraine that is funded through voluntary contributions and that Russia cannot veto” after Moscow blocked the expansion of the OSCE field operations in Ukraine that were already in place before the war.
According to him, the strategy is to focus on humanitarian demining, psychosocial support, reducing the effects of the war on the environment, and building capacity for accountability.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for Russia’s suspension from the organization, in response to the war, but it remained unanswered.
Helga Schmid, secretary-general, emphasized that the parties’ lines of communication must stay open.
“One day, we will need conversation means again. Additionally, the OSCE is the only security organization where all key players in the European security architecture are seated at the same table, according to the speaker.
After the invasion, Moscow was banned from or suspended from several international organizations and forums, including the Council of Europe, the UN Human Rights Council, the Financial Action Task Force against money laundering, and the Eurovision Song Contest.
EFFECTS BEYOND UKRAINE
“We’ll find a way to follow through on our promises and support the Ukrainian people. We’re going to make it clear that we can deliver for the people in every other nation where the OSCE has field missions, the US ambassador said.
However, some activities may be impacted by the budget issue, according to Margareta Cederfelt, president of the Parliamentary Assembly.
“We can’t spend money we don’t have because the budgets need to be balanced”, she said.
The OSCE’s activities should not be using the reserves provided in the budget Cederfelt stated, “There needs to be adjustment in our spending and how we can increase our financial resources,” such as by raising the membership dues”.
Cederfelt also emphasized the importance of “prioritizing” work being done in Ukraine and election monitoring, both of which are “very, very important.”
She said that one region of the world to concentrate on is the nations of Central Asia, along with Armenia and Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Georgia.
“What else can we do differently? Is there anything we may exclude that is less significant? But this needs to be talked about,” she continued.