Russia is cooperating with their Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) fellow members and will allow international observers free access to Ukraine, but not Crimea, which began to annex this week. Didier Burkhalter, the OSCE Chair says "all sides will benefit from the decision."
The 57-member-nation organization will open a special monitoring mission to “contribute to reducing tensions and foster peace, stability and security” in Ukraine.
The OSCE works on human-rights issues, economic topics and anitterrorism across Europe. It has member nations from around Europe, Asia and North America. Russia and Ukraine are both members.
The mission will monitor human rights in the country and report on situations “concerning alleged violations of fundamental OSCE principles and commitments.”
The OSCE is already heavily monitoring the state of media in Ukraine and has called numerous times for the freedom for journalists to report and for the release of kidnapped journalists.
Observers will be deployed “throughout Ukraine, to the east, south and west of the country,” but it is unclear whether they will be allowed in Crimea, which Russia has occupied since late February. Andrei Kelin, Russia’s chief envoy to the OSCE, said observers will not be welcome in Crimea, which he said was “a part of the Russian federation.”
That isn’t surprising, the Russian federation has staunchly resisted OSCE presence in Crimea since they took control of the peninsula. They wouldn’t allow observers to monitor the referendum that gave them justification for annexing the previously autonomous region and have blocked entry at least once because the OSCE acted “without considering the opinions and recommendations of the Russian side, without waiting for official invitations from the Crimean side.”
The U.S. thinks differently and released a statement saying "it is clear that with the adoption of this decision this mission has a mandate to work in Crimea and in all other parts of Ukraine." U.S. envoy Daniel Baer said that the OSCE should have access to Crimea because it is part of Ukraine.
Whether or not observers will be allowed in Crimea, Russia’s endorsement brings some relief to Ukrainians and peace advocates across the world. It is in stark contrast to Russia’s aggressive seizure of the Crimean peninsula, recent troop buildup and military exercises near the Ukrainian border.
For now it appears the Russian Federation is content with Crimea and doesn’t look to further snag territory from Ukraine, which still reeling from violent street protests and the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych in February.