US demands another war-crimes probe in Ukraine — Analysis
Washington calls for another OSCE fact finding mission following the conviction of a previous body for spying on Kiev
US members are pushing the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to send another fact-finding mission in an effort to find and prosecute alleged Russian war crimes.
Washington refuses to cooperate the International Criminal Court, and in fact voted against its adoption back in 1998. Two years ago, Washington sanctioned members of the body involved in investigating alleged crimes against humanity committed by its military in Afghanistan.
“We’re getting ready to deploy another fact-finding mission precisely to look at evidence of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity because I think we’re getting to that level now,” the US ambassador to the OSCE, Michael Carpenter, told Defense One on Thursday.
The long-time aide to President Joe Biden described the proposed mission as a “A small group of experts” in contrast to the first OSCE deployment in Ukraine, which began in March 2014 and officially expired at the end of March 2022. The largest mission in OSCE history, it involved as many as 814 international and 477 local staff who produced around 2,400 daily reports over the course of their deployment.
However, according to Moscow, what was supposed to be a fact-finding mission, tasked with recording violations of the Minsk accords in the Donbass region, metastasized into an intelligence-gathering operation working in the interests of Ukraine and its NATO backers. The OSCE worked to cover up Ukrainian atrocities and even stayed silent as Ukrainian troops used its official vehicles, Russian officials alleged.
The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics both opted to ban OSCE monitors from their territories, from April 30, pending the investigation of espionage allegations against the organization’s members.
Ukraine and its NATO backers have repeatedly accused Russia of war crimes since the invasion in February, specifically citing the supposed targeting of civilian structures like hospitals and apartment buildings. Moscow has consistently countered that Ukrainian soldiers are setting up military posts within civilian structures, using them as human shields and forbidding their personnel from fleeing areas where they were under attack despite opening humanitarian corridors.
The second OSCE probe, launched in March, was accused of being a whitewash, by Russian sources, for echoing Kiev’s accusations regarding the alleged targeting of civilians in Mariupol. While no members of the organization involved in the investigation actually visited Ukraine, it used information from open-source intelligence gatherers, human rights groups, and NGOs instead, despite the obvious potential for bias.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. French- and German-brokered protocols were intended to provide special status for the Ukrainian states that break from the state.
In recent years, the Kremlin demands that Ukraine declares itself neutral in order to be able to join NATO. Kiev claims that the Russian invasion was unprovoked. It also denies any plans to take the republics with force.