Lugansk: Withdrawal of Western Observers From Donbass is Preparation for 'Large-Scale Provocation'
11:14 GMT 13.02.2022 (Updated: 09:07 GMT 16.02.2022)
LUGANSK (Sputnik) - The withdrawal of EU, UK, and US representatives from the OSCE special monitoring mission in Ukraine under the pretext of insecurity would mean that a provocation by Ukraine and its Western handlers is coming, Rodion Miroshnik, an envoy for the self-proclaimed Lugansk People's Republic in Ukraine's Donbass region, said.
"The recall of representatives by the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom from the OSCE SMM is a conscious step by the West to block the flow of official information from Ukraine, and the military danger has nothing to do with it. These are preparations for some kind of a large-scale provocation", Miroshnik said.
The decision to withdraw their SMM representatives means that the mission loses the opportunity to perform its duties under the mandate, Miroshnik added.
"Without the decisions of the OSCE, the West will close the international monitoring - albeit not all-seeing - eye that provides official data on the situation in Ukraine. This has not happened since March 2014, when the OSCE made the decision to form the Special Monitoring Mission. Its representatives were on the territory in periods of tough hostilities in both 2014 and 2015. Therefore, it is not a matter of military danger", Miroshnik noted.
Western plans to withdraw their SMM envoys was reported by CNN, citing officials.
Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic (DPR), which together with the LPR makes up Donbass, said on Saturday that US representatives in the OSCE SMM had already "packed their bags", being ready to leave any moment. He also said that their departure would mean that a Western-sponsored Ukrainian provocation is being plotted.
The conflict in Donbass between Ukraine's government and the breakaway Donetsk and Lugansk
republics has been going on since 2014. The Minsk agreements, designed to find a political resolution to the conflict, were negotiated by the leaders of France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine — the Normandy group — in February 2015. However, the agreement has not been observed so far and sporadic clashes continue. Moscow has repeatedly stated that Kiev is not fulfilling the Minsk agreements and is delaying negotiations to resolve the conflict.