Day 727: Head Of OSCE Says There’s “Circumstantial Evidence” Russia Is Again Arming Militants In Ukraine

February 14, 2016
OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier

Both Ukrainian soldiers and a civilian have been wounded after a night of heavy shelling west of Donetsk, with attacks continuing this morning in the Lugansk region.

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


Head Of OSCE Says There’s “Circumstantial Evidence” Russia Is Again Arming Militants In Ukraine

Lamberto Zannier, the Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has told The Wall Street Journal that fighting in eastern Ukraine has reached a new low point, with heavy weapons now streaming into the zone of demarcation. Most concerning, however, Zannier also says that there is “circumstantial evidence” that Russia is once again supplying weapons to militants in the Donbass:

“Now it’s really a low” point, Lamberto Zannier, the Secretary-General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said during an interview in Munich on Sunday. “I would say it’s the worst since September 1, what we are seeing now.”


He said there have been “systematic violations” of the cease-fire, with both sides redeploying heavy weapons that had been withdrawn in line with the Minsk deal. He said pro-Russian separatists have significantly tightened access in the east to OSCE monitors and stopped them from traveling at all to the Russian controlled border–which has been the crossing point for weapons, kit and fighters over the last two years.

He also pointed to “circumstantial evidence” that equipment is again flowing over the Ukrainian border from Russia, although his monitors haven’t been able to verify that as they have been aggressively and repeatedly blocked from visiting rebel-held territory around the borders, he said.

“Now we are being pushed back every time which raises suspicion that something is going on,” he said. “Why are they blocking us so systematically? But of course we cannot… report on anything specific because we are not there.”

This is not the first time Zannier has questioned Russia’s motivations in eastern Ukraine. In September, in an interview with The Interpreter, Zannier said “you should really ask the Russians why they are suddenly becoming more cooperative” with the international efforts to end the crisis in Ukraine diplomatically. Within weeks of that interview, Russia’s air campaign in Syria was in full-effect, and it became clear to many observers that, at least temporarily, Moscow’s sights were focused on the Middle East. Now, however, the Syrian rebels are in retreat, and Russian military commanders may be realizing that it may not be necessary to further increase Russian involvement in that crisis.

Read our interview with Zannier here:

Exclusive: Russian-Backed Fighters Are Still Getting Stronger, OSCE Observers Say

On Friday, September 11, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took to the stage at the Yalta European Strategy (YES) Conference, which is now held in Kiev since Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea. Poroshenko proudly pronounced that in the previous 24 hour period, and for the first time in a year and a half, there was not a single ceasefire violation across the entire country.

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Feb 15, 2016 08:53 (GMT)

James Miller