American OSCE observer killed in Donbass: Who benefits?

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April 25, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

By Eduard Popov – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

On April 23rd, in the village of Prishib, an OSCE vehicle was blown up, as a result of which one observer from the Special Monitoring Mission, an American citizen, was killed. Two other employees were wounded. According to the first deputy head of the Special Monitoring Mission, Alexander Hug, the road down which the mission’s car was traveling had been used by observers before. There is thus the suspicion that this was an intended provocation. Someone probably made the death of an observer a political goal.

On the day of the observer’s death, Ukrainian President Poroshenko took advantage of the occasion to call US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Upon expressing regret in connection with the death of the American citizen, he expressed concern over the disruption of the Minsk Agreements. According to the Ukrainian President’s press secretary, Poroshenko “proposed to more actively consider the question of deploying an international peacekeeping force in Donbass under the auspices of the UN.”

The telephone conversation between Poroshenko and the US Secretary of State did not go without consequences. On April 24th, the US State Department published a statement which read: “The United States calls on Russia to use its influence on the separatists to allow the OSCE to conduct a full, transparent and timely investigation.” Thus, all basic principles of an impartial investigation were violated from the get go. The blame for the death of the observer was a priori assigned to the Donbass militia (“separatists”).

Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has insisted on an impartial and transparent investigation of the incident with the blown up car of OSCE SMM. According to Lavrov, the investigation should involve representatives of the OSCE, the Contact Group on Donbass, and the Joint Center for Coordination and Control.

In turn, Ukraine has rushed to seize the moment and extract maximum political gain from the death of an American. On April 25th, Ukraine disrupted a planned meeting of the subgroup on security in Minsk, and insisted on the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to Donbass. Kiev hopes for US support.

The persistence and vehemence with which Ukraine is trying to rely on US assistance leaves one to recall and ponder the classic principle of “cui prodest” (who benefits?).

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On April 24th, the spokesman of the Ministry of State Security of the Lugansk People’s Republic said that Ukrainian special forces had been tracking the OSCE observers for the purpose of a provocation. My sources in the LPR’s military and political circles are also sure that the death of the OSCE SMM officer was arranged by the Ukrainians, who have rich experience in organizing acts of sabotage in Donbass. In fact, a special saboteur unit operates within Ukraine’s military intelligence agency which organizes terrorist attacks on the territory of the DPR and LPR as well as Russia. It is probable that the OSCE car’s explosion was the handiwork of saboteurs from Ukraine’s GUR.

For the sake of objectivity, it should be emphasized that this is only logical reasoning based on experience. There is no hard evidence that the OSCE car was blown up by saboteurs from Ukraine’s military intelligence. And there is unlikely to be any, since investigators would have to conduct their investigation in shelled and mined areas.

Even in Ukraine, some political analysts openly admit that Poroshenko is only pretending to fulfill the Minsk process. For example, Dmitry Korneychuk forecasts that Poroshenko will use the government changes in Paris and London in his interests to, in the very least, gain a few months more to simulate and stall the Minsk process. The OSCE car’s explosion and the death of the observer (a foreigner at that) put into Kiev’s hands a perfect occasion to blame Minsk 2’s failure on Donbass and, of course, Russia. Although even Ukraine’s Western allies have criticized it for such cynicism, if Ukraine is really lucky, then it will achieve the deployment of an armed international peacekeeping force in Donbass.

Yet this idea is not new. The author of these lines has since May 2015 periodically commented on the possibility of this development. Kiev’s goals are obvious: it wants to Balkanize the conflict, just as the deployment of “blue helmets” essentially legitimized the partition of former Yugoslavia, stole victory from Republiska Srpska, and created the unsustainable confederation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This “internationalization” of the conflict is beneficial to Ukraine, which is incapable of coping with the republics of Donbass. And it is beneficial to Poroshenko personally, for whom it is essential that the American elite’s favor towards him return. 

For Poroshenko, returning Donbass to Ukraine would actually be a political defeat. He needs to keep the conflict in Donbass alive for as long as possible and even lose the region forever. Otherwise, he’ll be met with several million protest voters (as Korneychuk discusses) and tens of thousands of neo-Nazi militants who would return home from Donbass and turn their guns on Kiev.

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I am sure that even speculations on the feelings of Americans (in very strange circumstances objectively profitable for Kiev)  for their lost compatriot will hardly help Kiev. What’s more, the very idea of deploying peacekeepers to Donbass contradicts the basic principles of the Minsk process, as Russia has repeatedly said. And Russia will not allow the sad Balkan experience to be repeated at its borders. Not only the Kiev regime, but also the United States, will have to take this into consideration. 

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