Russia blocks decision on the mandate extension of OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine: UK statement to the OSCE, 31 March 2022

Mr Chair

Thank you for your update on the situation around the extension of the mandate of the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. We are grateful to you and to the Secretary General for the efforts that you have made to maintain the Mission. We are also grateful to the Chief Monitor and all members of the Mission for the dedication that they have shown over the last 8 years, this includes in the days and weeks since Russia’s premediated, unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.

As we have said before, the Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) is the eyes and ears of the international community in Ukraine. Our dedicated monitors have been an embodiment of the vital role the OSCE can play in keeping us all secure and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. We mourn the losses of Joseph Stone from 2017 and Maryna Fenina this year and offer our condolences to their friends and families.

Sadly, we are not surprised at the approach taken by our Russian colleagues. Disappointed, but not surprised.

Russia’s campaign to undermine the role of the OSCE in Ukraine has been long in the making and has grown in intensity. Over recent years, they have picked away at the ability of the Special Monitoring Mission to operate; critically undermining the Mission’s freedom of movement, levelling unjustified criticisms at the Mission and making demands of the Mission which were unfulfillable. Last year, Russia unilaterally closed the OSCE Border Observation Mission.

The Russian government clearly fears impartial, facts-based reporting.

We heard here today a poorly disguised attempt to shift the blame for the failure to extend the Mission’s mandate onto others.

Making untrue allegations of bias and referring to a change in the security situation in Ukraine entirely of Russia’s making, does not absolve them of full responsibility for not extending the Mission’s mandate.

Mr Chair, we will continue to offer you our full support as we work to find a way forward that will ensure that the Mission is able to complete its work in an orderly manner.

I would like to recall the UK’s position, expressed many times in this room, that we condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s premeditated and unjustified invasion of Ukraine and offer our solidarity and support to the people and government of Ukraine.

I ask that this statement be attached to the journal of the day.

Published 31 March 2022

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