Ukrainian military expert and politician charges OSCE Observers with bias

After reading various anodyne OSCE observer reports which note, for example, that so many columns of tanks and military vehicles without license plates or insignia were observed moving within the eastern Ukraine, or so many trucks carrying soldiers with no identifying insignia were similarly on the move, one must question whether the observers are adequately fulfilling their assigned role, or are going out of the way not to report evidence that the tanks, artillery, GRAD rocket launchers, troops and material they are observing are in fact Russian, and in fact part of a continuing influx of Russian weapons and troops into the Donbas.

It seems elementary that members of the observer teams should not include individuals from the country which is allegedly invading the Ukraine, but this is apparently not the case.

There appear to be grounds to suspect that the OSCE observer mission, charged with overseeing the ceasefire established by the September 5 Minsk Protocol, and overseeing the integrity of the Russian-Ukrainian border, are not performing their duties in a vigorous and impartial manner.

Why else would their reports be so lacking in conclusions and indeed in utility? The border is wide open, according to NATO and Ukrainian sources, and the ceasefire has broken down as military clashes escalate in Donetsk and also other areas of the Donbass.

Why are the OSCE observer reports telling us so little about what is going on in the Donbas and who is responsible for the violations of the ceasefire and other provisions of the Minsk Protocol?

A leading Ukrainian military expert and politician has now changed that the OSCE observers have been biased, citing a number of specific instances.

See “‘Einseitige Berichte’: Ukrainische Kritik an OSZEDer Militärexperte und künftige Abgeordnete Dmytro Tymtschuk erhebt schwere Vorwürfe gegen die OSZE,” Die Presse (Wien), 11. November 2014 (19:36 Uhr).

Why are we not getting full, informative and unbiased reports from the OSCE on ceasefire violations and who is responsible for them, and on compliance with the other commitments among the 12 points of the Minsk Protocol, including monitoring of the border and border incursions?

Instead of reporting on intensive observational and investigative activities, with a view to finding out who is responsible for violations, what we are getting are essentially reports on what the observers heard when they went and met with different people on visits that sound arranged. There is no overarching narrative, and no easy way to access all of the reports that have been filed by searching on the OSCE website. The information provided in the reports is not aggregated, either geographically or on a time line.

It would be useful for the terms of reference to be piblished on the OSCE website.

Perhaps it is time to take the Minsk Protocol to the U.N. Security Council, and to table a resolution for adoption which would provide for additional and much more vigorous monitoring of the Minsk Protocol’s provisions by U.N. monitors, who would reinforce the efforts of the OSCE.

for that matter, given the lackluster performance of the OSCE in the Ukraine, it may be time to question the utility of the organization itself, in Europe today, when countries like Russia no konger demonstrate through their actions any commitment to the principles upon which the organization was founded,

Has the OSCE become an anachronism, an organization which now only serves to feed the illusions of European pacifists and appeasers who refuse to look current realities in the face and call them by their true names?

in a word, does the OSCE today only operate, in effect if not intent, to serve the purposes a Russia now bent on military aggression and conquest?


“Full text of Minsk Protocol on Ceasefire in Ukraine (September 5, 2014),” The Trenchant Observer, September 7, 2014.

“Poroshenko’s capitulation: The new “special status” law and implementation of the Minsk Protocol,” The Trenchant Observer, September 17, 2014.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.