The Sunday’s deadly incident involving a patrol vehicle of the OSCE monitors that blew up on a mine in the militant-occupied part of Donbas that killed an American paramedic and injured another two monitors is a serious challenge for the mission, which performs a peacekeeping function in eastern Ukraine. This may be a reason to review the mechanisms of action of the OSCE mission in Donbas, their functions, as well as the mechanisms to ensure their safety. However, the question of arming the OSCE mission is unlikely to arise because it will change nothing in the current situation. Arming the monitors is simply not relevant to this format of risks. After all, when it comes to the risk of being blown up on mines, such step would be of no help.
We can now expect increased requirements for OSCE SMM safety and responsibility of the parties. To achieve the latter, pressure will increase on Russia, the militants, and Ukraine (Kyiv also has to ensure safety conditions for the OSCE).
A clear task will also be set to investigate the incident and to establish those responsible to hold them accountable.
Unfortunately, in this situation, it will be extremely difficult to get 100% evidence of Russian and militants’ guilt as the area where the incident occurred is controlled by the Russian proxies. And we will have to wait long for any results of the probe.
Unfortunately, in this situation, it will be extremely difficult to get 100% evidence of Russian and militants’ guilt as the area where the incident occurred is controlled by the Russian proxies
But if it turns out that the militants deliberately led the OSCE patrol to the minefield, expanded sanctions will be introduced as well as some more powerful means of ensuring security and possibly even a broader format of conflict settlement.
Although proving the guilt of Russia and its proxies would be difficult to prove, we should not exclude this version. And if this was a deliberate act, it should be considered as a provocation for the purpose of accusing Ukraine (as if the mine was planted intentionally by Ukrainian forces). Incidentally, this is what the militants claimed immediately following the incident, echoed by the Russian Federation. Russia has deployed all resources to voice these allegations – Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the administration of the Russian president stated that this might have been the case.
In spite of the incident, representatives of the EU and the U.S. in the OSCE mission said that they will continue their work in Donbas, so there will be no curtailing of their activities in the east of Ukraine
It should also be noted that, in spite of the incident, representatives of the EU and the U.S. in the OSCE mission said that they will continue their work in Donbas, so there will be no curtailing of their activities in the east of Ukraine. Perhaps, the mechanisms of action and the patrol routes will be now worked out more thoroughly. However, representatives of the mission can refuse from going on specific high-risk patrol missions which will not be properly controlled and tested for mines if no action is taken to prevent accidental attacks (as is so often the case) and targeted provocative fire.
Army General Mykola Malomuzh is a former head of the Foreign Intelligence Service of Ukraine