The West is attempting to turn the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) into a subsidiary organisation of NATO, which is paradoxical because it is meant to be concentrated on peacebuilding, unlike the Atlantic Alliance which fosters tensions to justify its existence in a post-Soviet world. It is for this reason, among others, why Poland refused to grant a visa to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, thus barring him from attending the OSCE meeting held on December 1 and 2 in Lodz.
Poland claims it refused to grant Lavrov a visa because he is on the list of people who have been sanctioned. However, this does not explain why many from the Russian delegation were also denied visas despite not being on a sanctions list.
This weak excuse is to justify Warsaw’s consistent policy of provocation against Moscow, especially in the context of the current war in Ukraine. Poland and the West are hoping that by humiliating Russia, the country will withdraw from the OSCE. The West are desperate for Russia to withdraw as a hurdle from being able to implement and impose whatever it wants on the OSCE will be removed.
It is recalled that Moscow very effectively blocked the 2022 OSCE budget. Without a Russian withdrawal, the West will not be able to put the OSCE under its complete control, something that should be avoided as it would undermine the very foundation of the organisation – serving as a platform where Western and Eastern Europe could discuss and resolve issues.
Rather, the OSCE today has turned into a political tool of the West and effectively has no meaning or role anymore. With the OSCE descending into childlike behaviour by barring Russian delegates and top diplomats, it does seem that the organisation has become redundant as it is appearing more like a Euro-focussed political wing of NATO.
The OSCE meeting in Poland was essentially a two-day event for speakers to bash Russia.
None-the-less, Moscow is unlikely to be deterred by these provocations and will remain committed to its responsibilities as an OSCE member. This is likely to ensure that paths of reconciliation are always open despite Western attempts to close them.
The Kremlin might also believe that the OSCE’s uptick in provocations is because Poland is the current chairman. Russian policymakers might also believe that tensions will relax when North Macedonia takes over the chairmanship in 2023. It could be for this reason that Lavrov called out Poland by highlighting that its “anti-chairmanship” was taking the OSCE to its “most miserable place ever in this organisation’s history.”
It can be argued though that the OSCE has always been geopolitically against Moscow. It is recalled that the American establishment boasted that they had inserted a Trojan horse into the Eastern Bloc with the signing of the Helsinki Accords in 1975, the roots of today’s OSCE.
The Helsinki Accords stresses the respect for human rights and equal rights, a result of Western insistence because the Soviets were instead mostly interested in finalising Germany’s borders. The West is not interested in human rights though, and rather their main interest is ideological, economic and military hegemony all over the world, with human rights only being weaponised as one vehicle of achieving this goal.
Effectively, it can be argued that the OSCE was born as a trap for Moscow. When “security”, “cooperation” and “Europe” are in the name of the OSCE but it turns into an organisation completely dominated by promoting US interests, the argument is made that the organisation now resembles something like a branch of NATO.
Playing its own role in serving Western interests, Ukraine continues to call for Russia to be kicked out of the OSCE entirely, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba claiming in a tweet that the “OSCE is on a highway to hell because Russia abuses its rules and principles.”
“Everything has been tried in regards to Russia: to please, to appease, to be nice, to be neutral, to engage, not to call a spade a spade. The bottom line: It would be better for OSCE to carry on without Russia,” he added.
However, this is once again an example of Kiev’s classic projection of portraying their own illiberal values as that of Russia. In fact, it is Europe’s own unwillingness to “call a spade a spade,” such as whitewashing Ukraine’s fascistic policies and pretending it was a Western-styled liberal country, which ultimately led to war.
Proving that the OSCE is now nothing more than a branch of NATO, US Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said, when speaking in Lodz, that Russia had “failed demonstrably to break the OSCE.”
If the OSCE is not nothing more than a branch of NATO, it must be questioned why the US Under Secretary of State was an honoured guest at a Europe-focussed and Europe-based organisation, which was initially established to connect Western and Eastern Europe together, while Russia’s top diplomat and other officials were barred.
Ahmed Adel, Cairo-based geopolitics and political economy researcher