5 Percent of OSCE SMM Monitors Russian Citizens; Hug Response to Bild Reporter’s Query About OSCE Salute to LNR

February 23, 2018
A sign carrying the bodies of 3 fallen Ukrainian soldiers in a DNR vehicle with the Russian-language sign "Cargo 200" which means military dead.

Ukraine Day 1466: LIVE UPDATES BELOW. Alexander Hug, first deputy chief of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, answered a reporter’s query about a troubling incident involving a salute to a Russia-backed fighter by a Russian OSCE monitor.

Yesterday’s coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.

An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine


5 Percent of OSCE SMM Monitors Russian Citizens; Hug Response to Bild Reporter’s Query About OSCE Salute to LNR

LNR vehicle carrying the bodies of 3 fallen Ukrainian soldiers. Screen grab from video by self-declared Lugansk People’s Militia 

Russia-backed forces attacked 13 times, the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] reported in their night dispatch. They fired 122-mm mortars on Luganskoye. Several homes were damaged. The environs of Pervomaysk and Podlesnoye (Pidlisnoe) were also shelled by 152-mm artillery. Near Troitskoye, 120-mm mortarys were used and an armed BMP. Grenade-launchers were fired on Novoaleksandrovka, Novgorodskoye and Zaytsevo.

Earlier, the ATO reported 3 attacks on the Lugansk line

No casualties were reported.

Reports by Ukrainian Chief Military Prosecutor Anatolii Matios on 112 TV that there were “one or two suicides a week” among Ukrainian armed forces were “PR and manipulation,” Maj. Gen. Oleg Hruntkovsky, head of the morale and psyhological support department announced, according to a report from Liga.net citing Hromadske TV.

These are reports from bureaucrats who do not work directly with the personnel, this is PR and manipulation,” Hromadske cited Maj. Gen. Hruntkovsky as saying.

He said the rate of suicides was the same as last year, and was not as high as “one or two a week,” but declined to give the exact figures, citing them as a classified by the military.

According to a Liga.net report, Alexander Hug, first deputy head of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission said in an interview February 22 with Ukrainform that the 700 mission personnel were taken from many countries, including Russia; that Russians are in the mixed patrols, and he did not believe there was a conflict of interest.
“There are no ‘mono-national’ teams in which there would be only citizens of Switzerland, France or Russia,” he said. The patrols write joint reports which he believed was a means of ensuring objectivity.
Hug said mission members hailed from 40 countries in the OSCE; of these 39 Russian citizens were in the mission (5 percent).

According to Liga.net, Hug responded to a query about a November 2017 incident by Julian Ropcke of the German daily Bild, where a Russian OSCE mission member greeted and saulted the Russian-backed fighters when they turned over the bodies of Ukrainian ATO soldiers killed.

Hug said the incident had been “studied carefully” and all personnel are subject to a code of conduct. “We made it known to them that only observance of these high demands are acceptable in their workd,” said Hug.

Russia-backed fighters from the so-called “People’s Militia” of the self-declared Lugansk People’s Republic  (LNR)made a video showing the OSCE monitors greeting the LNR fighters.

At 0:21, an OSCE monitor is seen in a blue jacket and hat, who speaks such fluent Russian he evidently is a Russian national. He shakes hands and hugs one of the LNR fighters and says “Ah, my dear man” to him in Russian, which can be seen as overly fraternal and indicating a past relationship. This civilian Russian OSCE monitor then salutes the LNR fighter.

Ropcke also reported that Andrei Marochko, representative of the self-described LNR People’s Militi, telephoned the mother of the dead Ukrainian soldier to inform her of his death. 

Members of the pro-Russian Society of Afghan Veterans who assisted in the transfer of the bodies of the UAF said that silence is always observed on these occasions, although the video of the monitor greeting the LNR shows that it was not.

At the end, Marochko said both sides observed international humanitarian laws regarding the bodies of the fallen and said:

“Every warrior has the right to be buried, and returned to the earth according to all the Christian laws.”

We could also note that the Hug interview February 22 was published by many media on February 23, known as “Red Army Day” in the Soviet era and today known in Russia as “Fatherland Defenders’ Day.”

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick