Armenia accused of brinkmanship over extension of OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine

Armenia is being accused of brinkmanship after failing to agree to an extension of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) in Ukraine until just hours before the deadline. After weeks of efforts by Swedish, European and US diplomats to urge Armenia to sign, the SMM was yesterday extended by a year.

Within the OSCE, decision-making is done by consensus, which means all 57 participating states must agree to budgets, mandates and their extensions in order for them to be confirmed.

Stephanie Liechtenstein reported in Security and Human Rights Monitor that Armenia’s actions are being seen as a protest against what it perceives as a prioritisation of certain conflicts in the OSCE region, and frustration over how the OSCE Minsk Group handled last year’s war in Nagorno-Karabakh. She notes that some have also suggested that it could also be to do with the growing strategic partnership between Baku and Kyiv. Whilst supporting Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity since the 1994, Ukraine has become more vocal on this issue since the 2014 annexation Crimea.

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and foreign minister of Sweden, Ann Linde, welcomed the decision on the budget and mandate of the SMM, stating:

“The mission plays a vital role in the OSCE’s conflict resolution efforts through its monitoring and reporting on the security situation in Ukraine and facilitating dialogue. I fully support the Mission in the implementation of its mandate throughout Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders.”

The Ukrainian SMM has a budget of approximately €100 million, involves 730 individual monitors, and plays a crucial role in monitoring the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine.

Related: GEU Podcast: What's going on with the OSCE? – with Dr Walter Kemp


Source: with Security and Human Rights Monitor (The Hague) and agencies.
Photo: A monitor from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine stands in front of OSCE convoy. (OSCE SMM Ukraine twitter)