This week's series of security talks between Russia and Western nations concluded on Thursday within the framework of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) without the tough positions on both sides having been softened.

On the contrary, the Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau, who took over this year's chairmanship of the security organization for his country, took the opportunity to issue a drastic warning: “It looks as if the danger of war in the OSCE is greater than it has been for 30 years more, ”warned Rau, alluding to the Russian troop deployment near the Ukrainian border.

However, several sides emphasized the will to use the organization as a platform for equal discussion.

Stephan Löwenstein

Political correspondent based in Vienna.

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The OSCE, based in Vienna, with its 57 participating states “from Vancouver to Vladivostok” and the principle of unanimity, is an extremely clumsy and easily paralyzed organization. But it is the only one in which the United States, Russia and Ukraine sit at the table on an equal footing, permanently represented by their ambassadors. OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid referred to the role of the organization in resolving conflicts. The former German diplomat said that it was “urgently necessary to de-escalate and rebuild trust,” that is what the OSCE is there for.

"We have to firmly reject blackmail"

Rau pointed out that there has been a "major military escalation in Eastern Europe" for weeks. The crisis threatens "the stability and security of the entire European system". The American OSCE Ambassador Michael Carpenter was even more specific: "We see the unprovoked action by Russia against Ukraine as an immediate and urgent challenge for peace and security in the OSCE region." ready how security could be strengthened in the interests of all. But “we must firmly reject blackmail and never allow aggression and threats to be rewarded”. The American therefore clearly rejected the Russian demand that NATO should not accept any further members in the vicinity of Russia:"No tolerance for declared or unexplained spheres of interest, no restriction of the sovereign right of nations to choose their own alliances, no preference for the security needs of one state over those of another."

The Russian representative Alexander Lukashevich insisted on Moscow's demands. In his statement circulated on Twitter, he said: “If we do not receive a constructive response to our proposals in a timely manner and we continue aggressive behavior against the flag of Russia, we must take the necessary measures to ensure strategic balance and unacceptable threats for our national security. "

The OSCE has civilian observers in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-controlled and supported separatists control the Donbass region.

However, this SMM mission is increasingly hampered.

At the end of December she reported almost daily that "armed groups" had barred the observers from entering.

OSCE Secretary General Schmid also said she was concerned because far fewer civilians were crossing the so-called line of contact between Ukraine and the separatist areas.

This also means that people have no access to schools and other facilities.

Rau called for the mandate of the OSCE ceasefire monitoring mission to be extended beyond March 31.

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