The Conflict In and Around Ukraine: The Role of the Civilian OSCE Mission
Alexander Hug, principal deputy chief monitor for OSCE's Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine, offers an on-the-ground perspective on the SMM's efforts to reduce tensions and promote normalization in the country's east. The SMM was deployed on March 21, 2014, following a request to the OSCE by Ukraine’s government and a consensus decision by all 57 OSCE participating states. The SMM is an unarmed, civilian mission, present on the ground 24/7 in all regions of Ukraine.
As the conflict continues in eastern Ukraine, achieving lasting peace remains challenging. However, there are some grounds for optimism. OSCE SMM “mirror patrols” are facilitating localized adherence to the September 2014 ceasefire agreement. Mirror patrols involve conducting simultaneous patrols on both sides of the contact line to monitor a temporary cessation of hostilities, following an agreement with the Ukrainian and Russian representatives in the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC) and the sides on the ground. Maintaining an OSCE presence also reduces the chance of conflict, creating a “window of silence.”