How Lavrov Made It to OSCE Meeting and Why No One Was Satisfied
Friday, 1 December 2023
Western OSCE foreign ministers found themselves at the same event in Europe as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov for the first time since February 2022.
North Macedonia, which currently chairs the OSCE, wanted to move beyond the crisis and avoid the potential collapse of the organisation, which would be possible in the event that Russia were once again banned. The country agreed to host the Russian Foreign Minister and fulfiled all his ultimatums.
Undoubtedly, it is the Macedonian authorities who are responsible for breaking Lavrov's boycott.
But Moscow is a master of blackmail. It skillfully played on the indecisiveness of many Western diplomats and their favouritism towards old, even almost non-functioning "dialogue platforms," such as OSCE.
Was there really no way out? The answer is: there was!
Ukraine explained to its partners that Lavrov would continue to undermine OSCE regardless of the actions of other states.
Sergei Lavrov, through all his actions in Skopje, demonstrated that he was not bound by the rules. For example, he spoke for almost 15 minutes despite three allowed.
After a long and very boring report on the "Kyiv regime," which focused on new Russian twists like "EU eagerly accepts Nazis," Lavrov moved on to the main point. He refuted the expectations that actions would appease the Russian diplomat and announced that he no longer thought that OSCE was needed.
It became evident that even if Russia eventually votes for all the necessary decisions, it will only be temporary relief.
Therefore, Ukraine offered colleagues from European countries another option, according to Dmytro Kuleba. As he believes the only way to save OSCE is to kick out Russia from the organisation. Either by excluding Russia or by rebooting OSCE without it.
Anything is possible if the will is there.
Was there support for Lavrov? Yes, undoubtedly.
But it was very limited. And from those who did not surprise us.
Lavrov's support was very low. For example, the mouthpiece of Kremlin ideas, Hungarian Minister Peter Szijjarto, who called for stopping arms supplies to Ukraine, traditionally worked on Russia's behalf. He also met with Lavrov again, demonstrating that he is not in the diplomatic boycott. Or the traditional "peacemaker," Austrian Foreign Minister Schallenberg, who also had a meeting with the Russian minister "at the request of OSCE" and called for "not being afraid of dialogue."
Greece's actions in support of Russia came out of the blue. After even Bulgaria refused to let the Russian plane pass through its airspace until all sanctioned individuals were removed from the passenger list other than Lavrov himself, Greece agreed to provide an air corridor without any demands.
However, most other countries unequivocally supported Kyiv in Skopje.
Lavrov faced a real avalanche of protests and demarches, and Western ministers made their decisions at the last moment.
The scale of Kyiv's support was truly impressive.
After the statements of the Russian minister, there is no clarity even on whether he will fulfil his promise and whether the decisions that would save OSCE from collapse will be approved right now.
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