By withdrawing from JCCC, Russia trying to force Ukraine into dialogue with militants
Russia's withdrawal from the Joint Center for Control and Coordination (JCCC) undermines the work of the Organization for Security and Co-operation's Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (OSCE SMM) and is intended to force Kyiv into dialogue with militants, Ukraine's Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories and Internally Displaced Persons, Vadym Chernysh, said.
"We have long observed Russia saying that the JCCC format is inconvenient for it, for which it cited various reasons: its military officers were being either mistreated or restricted. We have been seeing this since the summer [of 2017]," Chernysh told Interfax-Ukraine on Tuesday.
Claims about Russian JCCC officers being restricted and mistreated were a preparation for the blocking of this body's work, he said.
"If you look at all of these activities together, it clearly shows that Russia wants to do everything possible even on this level to not even appear to be a party to the conflict and make us go down the path of dialogue with incomprehensible people who were installed by Russia itself in these breakaway areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions," Chernysh said.
The JCCC is not part of the Minsk Agreements, he said. Now Russia can say that because it has no representatives or observers in Donbas, the international community must work out an agreement to secure Russia's presence in the conflict zone in the form of observers or peacekeepers, with that agreement also stating that Russia is not a party to the conflict, the minister said.
"The presence of Russian officers in the JCCC guaranteed, among other things, the safety of the OSCE mission's staff," Chernysh said.
The mission's fulfillment of its monitoring mandate relied on safety assurances provided by the JCCC, he said.
In addition, the minister believes that the withdrawal from the JCCC and the concentration of Russian troops on the borders may also indicate the threat of the use of military force.
It was reported that the Russian JCCC officers quit on December 19 and are planning to leave Ukraine.