A Federal Foreign Office spokesperson issued the following statement in Berlin today (27 April) in response to reports on alleged plans for an armed OSCE mission to eastern Ukraine:
The OSCE monitoring mission currently in place in eastern Ukraine is a civilian, unarmed mission. This was decided by the 57 participating States of the OSCE, and neither Germany nor France are involved in any agreement about changing the civilian nature of the mission – neither within the OSCE nor in the Normandy format.
It is true that we have, in our capacity as Chair of the OSCE and following consultations within the Normandy format, asked the Secretariat to develop options for improving security at the planned local elections. It is too early to say what the findings will be.
Without wishing to pre‑empt any decision, we can say that we find it difficult at this time to imagine what an armed OSCE mission might look like that had the objective of effectively ensuring the security of the elections in the separatist areas and enhancing the security of OSCE observers.
The OSCE currently has no precedent for an armed mission. On the contrary, being civilian in nature is a particularly important feature of OSCE monitoring missions, which require the consent of conflict parties to operate.
When you take the idea of an armed mission to its logical conclusion, it raises a whole range of difficult legal, political, practical and military issues.
We plan to arrange another meeting in the Normandy format in the foreseeable future, which will include the foreign ministers. A meeting of this kind would be the right opportunity to raise all the issues relating to the OCSE monitoring missions for discussion among the Normandy partners.