Yesterday, in merely the latest indication the eastern, pro-Russian region of Ukraine will hardly succumb to Kiev authority, a group of OSCE military observers who had been dispatched to supervise events in the city of Slavyansk were taken hostage by local separatist milita. Soon thereafter even Russia itself chimed in saying it "will take all possible steps to free detained OSCE military observers in the Ukrainian town of Slaviansk, Russian news agencies reported on Saturday, citing Russia's envoy to the Vienna-based Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe." "We think that these people need to be freed as soon as possible," Andrei Kelin said in comments cited by ITAR-TASS. "Russia as a member of the OSCE will undertake all possible steps in this matter."
Of course, there are words and there are actions: it was the same OSCE observers who were promptly kicked out of Crimea on the eve of the local independence referendum which saw the territory overwhelmingly vote to join Russia.
As such, it is certain that any further attempts by the west (and Russia which ironically is a member of the OSCE) to inject third parties in what is a clear conflict between Russia and Ukraine, will be met with failure. Which is why we read with amusement that in the latest attempt to de-escalate violence, now that diplomacy has failed, the OSCE has dispatched a negotiating team to try to secure the release of the first OSCE group, a German government source said on Saturday. "A negotiating team from the OSCE is on the way to the region," said the source, declining to give further details, including exactly where they were heading.
So what happens when the OSCE rescue team, too, is captured and held hostage? Will a third OSCE team be unleashed to seek the release of the team that was sent out previously to liberate the original OSCE team, and so on? Hopefully this farce will be avoided, as the separatists made it quite clear they simply intended to hold on to the OSCE hostages as a bargaining chip:
A leader for pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine said Saturday that a group of foreign military observers who have been detained as suspected “NATO spies” could be released in exchange for jailed pro-Russian activists.
“They are officers from NATO member states,” said Vyacheslav Ponomaryev, self-proclaimed mayor of the eastern city of Slovyansk. “As we found maps on them containing information about the location of our checkpoints, we get the impression that they are officers carrying out a certain spying mission.”
The German-led, eight-member team was traveling under the auspices of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe when they were detained in Slovyansk.
And just so Russia doesn't feel like it is the only one engaging in shady activity, at the same time as the OSCE mini drama was unfolding, Russia itself voiced a complaint that its journalists were being assaulted and intimidated, and requested they be protected. RT reports that representatives of Russian TV channels have urged international organizations, including the UN, UNESCO and the OSCE, to protect the rights and dignity of journalists covering the Ukraine crisis from illegal actions of the Kiev authorities.
Disturbed by intensified assaults and intimidation of journalists in Ukraine, their detentions and deportations, the heads of all Russia's major TV corporations, including RT, have called on human rights organizations to “defend the professional rights of journalists working in Ukraine.”
“Ukraine’s Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov, Dnepropetrovsk and other regions are witnessing the ruthless suppression of civil liberties on a daily basis. Journalists are being threatened with their lives if they continue to report from Ukraine,” the letter reads, signed by the heads of All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK), NTV, REN TV, Channel 5, RT and News Media.
“The new Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly taken illegal actions barring our staff journalists covering the Ukraine crisis from performing their professional duties and violating their human dignity,” the letter says.
In the latest incident on Friday morning, Lifenews journalists Julia Shustraya and Mikhail Pudovkin, were detained and later deported to Russia. The crew was abducted by armed Ukraine Security Service members, after they filmed an interview with one of the leaders of the pro-federalization movement in Ukraine.
“[Journalists] are being watched, their phone conversations wiretapped. There were cases when journalists were forced to get down on their knees, beaten during detention and illegally deported from Ukraine,” the joint address to UN, OSCE and UNESCO reads.
Or, in other words, the fog of pre-war is rapidly falling, and quite soon nobody will know what the truth (or lies) coming out of Ukraine is.