Now, intimidation of the OSCE by Russia’s forces is nothing new. Not a day goes by when their daily reports don’t include incidents where monitors have either been ordered to leave an area, or refused passage through a checkpoint. However, over Christmas we saw a rise in armed aggression directed at several OSCE patrols. Remembering that OSCE monitors are unarmed and include women, this does not bode well.
Dec 24th 2018: A drunken soldier vandalized a patrol vehicle and was abusive towards the monitors inside.
Jan 2nd 2019: Two armed soldiers were abusive towards monitors. They then followed a patrol vehicle, with one the men threatening those inside by saying – “This is the last time I’m going to tell you to leave.”
These ugly threats and intimation stem from Russia’s twofold need to stop the OSCE from seeing their military activities, and the Kremlin’s own anti-OSCE agenda. Russia’s propaganda often labels the OSCE as mere informers for Ukraine, NATO and western governments. In addition, they’re falsely accused of never reporting anything about the Ukrainian army.
This labeling of the OSCE as the enemy or people who must be obstructed, understandably effects the perception of them by Russia’s soldiers in Ukraine. With a good many made up of migrant mercenaries with poor discipline, it means there are lots of drunken bums with guns trying to prove they’re tough.
Note: The OSCE label Russia’s forces in Ukraine as “armed formations and Armed members.” The OSCE daily reports website.