The Netherlands brings back five employees of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from eastern Ukraine. The West fears that a Russian raid is imminent.
Three other Dutch OSCE employees are in Kiev. It is uncertain whether they will stay, says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs against Nieuwsuur.
OSCE observers are the independent eyes and ears of the international community in places where a conflict is or is imminent. In eastern Ukraine, they have been active since 2014, where hundreds of OSCE people are monitoring a ceasefire between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russian separatists.
Theyve been getting harder and harder in recent months. “The observers have been hindered by both sides in their work,” says Alexander Hug, who was the leader of the OSCE mission there for years. “She was blocked and technology was sabotaged. That hinders the mission to clearly observe what is happening on the spot.”
Without OSCE people more likely to be violence
Until recently, there were about 515 OSCE people in the area. But under the Russian threat, the United States and Britain are also retiring their employees. Hug hopes that those people will be replaced by others. He calls it crucial that the mission continues.
“The mission is also a means to keep dialogue open. That can only be a success if people convey facts on the spot so that the negotiators and diplomats in the capitals have documentation in their phone calls that is irrefutable and verified. Then there can be no misunderstandings. Then nothing can come on the table that could be reason for more violence and aggression.”
In addition to the eight OSCE observers, the Netherlands has eight employees of EUAM, the EU Advisory Mission, in Ukraine. Seven of them also return to the Netherlands.