Crisis and conflict management in the OSCE area will remain a priority in 2017. The OSCE has a crucial role to play in the settlement of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
As a member of the OSCE Troika (along with Austria and Italy), Germany has political responsibility for the work of important OSCE instruments, in particular for the work of the Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine and in the Trilateral Contact Group, the Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), the Observer Mission at the Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk (OM) and the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine (PCU). Germany also supports the work of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), of the High Commissioner on National Minorities and of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in Ukraine.
Germany is assisting the OSCE’s efforts in Ukraine by providing financial contributions and personnel. There is a focus on seconding staff to the SMM. In addition to that, Germany is supporting the projects run by the ODIHR and the OSCE PCU to foster national dialogue, to implement reforms, for example in combating corruption or the restructuring of the police and justice system, as well as mine and ordnance clearance.
OSCE activities in Ukraine
Until 2014, the OSCE’s chief representation in Ukraine had been a project office. In 2014, in the course of the spiralling conflict in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, the OSCE emerged as the most important multilateral player working to calm the conflict and resolve it politically.
Trilateral Contact Group: The OSCE’s key forum is the Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) established in June 2014, in which representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE consult one another and negotiate concrete steps towards implementation of the Minsk agreements. The TCG is headed by Ambassador Martin Sajdik of Austria, Special Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in Ukraine. In the TCG framework, four working groups meet regularly in Minsk to discuss politics, security, economic issues and humanitarian affairs. Ongoing political backing for the TCG has from the start been provided by the governments of the Normandy Format – Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine.
Special Monitoring Mission (SMM): In March 2014, the OSCE Permanent Council deployed a civilian Special Monitoring Mission initially comprising up to 500 monitors. The maximum size was raised to 1000 monitors in March 2015. There are currently around 700 monitors from more than 40 OSCE participating States taking part in the SMM. The SMM is represented by its head office in Kyiv and monitoring teams in Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Chernivtsi (western Ukraine) as well as Kherson, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Luhansk and Odessa (south-eastern Ukraine). The presence of the SMM is intended to reduce tensions, and its daily reports are meant to contribute to transparency and consequently stabilisation. With the Minsk documents of September 2014 and the Minsk package of 12 February 2015, the SMM took on additional and essential tasks relating to monitoring the agreed ceasefire and verifying the withdrawal of heavy weapons. The fundamental prerequisite for completing these tasks is that all those involved in the conflict need to cooperate with the SMM in order to ensure the safety and freedom of movement of the observers.
More information on the SMM is available on the OSCE website:
Observer Mission at the Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk (OM): A mission comprising 20 civilians has been observing traffic at the checkpoints on the Russian-Ukrainian border at Gukovo and Donetsk since July 2014. The OM operates on the territory of the Russian Federation.
More information on the OM is available on the OSCE website:
The OSCE institutions have conducted other activities at Ukraine’s invitation since the crisis began. These include a mission to assess the human rights situation in spring 2014 and election observation missions for the presidential elections in May 2014, the parliamentary elections in October of the same year and the local elections in October and November 2015.
Germany is providing personnel, training, technical equipment and funding to support the OSCE’s activities in Ukraine. Germany has seconded 35 experts to the SMM and OM and funds around 12% of the annual SMM budget. The German Government furthermore supplies the SMM with intelligence from satellite imagery analysis and offers weapons-recognition, equipment as well as additional equipment aid for the observers and for the mission’s technical capabilities.
Germany seconds experts to the SMM via the Center for International Peace Operations (ZIF).
More information on this is available on the ZIF website: