by Karl Pomeroy
July 26, 2015
Edited July 27, 2015
The United States Mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has posted on its website a document flaunting deliberate and malicious misinformation about Russia, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics, and the Minsk Agreements for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in Ukraine. The document contains a transcript of a speech made by Daniel Brooks Baer, US Ambassador to the OSCE, at a meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on July 23, 2015.
Baer alleges: “It has become a refrain of the Russian Federation to insist that the government of Ukraine must ‘engage in direct dialogue’ with ‘representatives’ of Donetsk and Luhansk. It is important that everybody around this table here recognizes that there is no such thing right now as ‘representatives’ of Donetsk and Luhansk. There are only representatives of the Russian Federation who are perpetrating a reign of terror in Donetsk and Luhansk.”
This fabrication is not just slanderous, it negates the spirit of the Minsk Agreements signed by envoys of Baer’s own mission. He should be fired for denigrating a legal instrument of his office. Or possibly it is traitorous for a US ambassador to willfully subvert the mandates of his diplomatic assignment.
The Minsk Protocol of September 2014 assigns as representatives of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions those envoys from the regions who attended the meeting in Minsk, Belarus. These were Alexander Zakharchenko and Igor Plotnitsky. The Minsk 2.0 Package of Measures signed February 2015 requires approval from these representatives for Ukrainian consitutional reform. To secure that approval, it’s obvious some form of dialogue is needed between Kiev, Donetsk and Lugansk. Russia is right to insist on this.
Assuming Baer has read the Minsk documents in the course of his duties, he knowingly twisted the intent of the Agreement, apparently to further his own career at the murderous US Department of State.
He goes on to purport, “The reason why special local elections were first foreseen last September, before they were disrupted by Russia and their proxies, was to have legitimate representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk.”
Elections were not disrupted by Russia. They were disrupted by Kiev leader Petro Poroshenko, who insisted they be held after the Minsk November 2014 deadline. Ignoring Poroshenko’s Minsk Agreement violation, the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics held their own elections ahead of the deadline. But the salient point is, elections weren’t needed to have representatives in the first place. The representatives were already established in Minsk.
Baer is distorting the intent of the Agreements with full knowledge of his misdeeds. For an ambassador, that constitutes a dereliction of duty. The US needs ambassadors that promote the country’s interests with dignity, intelligence and good faith. Distortion, slander and lies further tarnish America’s rapidly eroding image.
Baer makes a further wild claim: “The Russian Federation [is] perpetrating a reign of terror in Donetsk and Lugansk.” No, Mr. Baer, it is Kiev, NATO and the United States who are perpetrating a reign of terror, to which international war crime you have now become an accomplice. Terror was unleashed by Poroshenko’s own armies, who began bombing civilians in June 2014 after the violent US-assisted coup that exiled Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovich.
Why does Baer peddle misinformation on an issue he’s obligated to thoroughly understand? Baer holds a doctorate in international relations from the University of Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar. His dissertation was entitled The ultimate sacrifice: death, duty, and heroism in just war theory and in the ethics of intervention. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University (Wikipedia). Apparently Baer is not mentally deficient.
So what excuse does he have? Did the OSCE forget to give him a copy of the Minsk Agreements? Did the US State Department fail to tell him that Minsk 2.0 was mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 2202, and that it is binding on the United States of America? It’s difficult to imagine a “war theory” scholar dissembling due to sheer ignorance. His misinformation therefore must be deliberate. He has misrepresented a UNSC resolution while holding a US ambassadorship to the very organization charged with implementing that resolution. What could be more egregious?
Baer’s final allegations against Russia are sufficient to warrant a Senate investigation into his motives. Daniel Brooks Baer deserves to be interrogated, reprimanded, fired or worse. Such malicious misrepresentation should not be allowed among United States diplomats.
The full OSCE Permanent Council document is as follows:
Right of Reply to Russia on its ongoing violations in Ukraine. As delivered by Ambassador Daniel B. Baer to the Permanent Council, Vienna, July 23, 2015.
I hadn’t intended to take the floor a second time but since the distinguished representative of the Russian delegation has reiterated a point that runs counter to a fact that was in our statement, I felt the need to respond. It has become a refrain of the Russian Federation to insist that the government of Ukraine must ‘engage in direct dialogue” with “representatives” of Donetsk and Luhansk. It is important that everybody around this table here recognizes that there is no such thing right now as “representatives” of Donetsk and Luhansk. There are only representatives of the Russian Federation who are perpetrating a reign of terror in Donetsk and Luhansk.
The reason why special local elections were first foreseen last September, before they were disrupted by Russia and their proxies, was to have legitimate representatives of Donetsk and Luhansk. And the Ukrainian government has made clear on multiple occasions, that at such time as there are free and fair local elections in specific areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, there will be engagement with those who emerge from those local elections. But I would like to repeat: there is no such thing as ‘representatives’ of Donetsk and Luhansk today. There are only representatives of the Russian Federation who act violently and illegally in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Second point, without reference to any specific incidents, I would just make the point that all of us have seen over the last few months how the Russian Federation treats its own citizens – including its soldiers, whom the Kremlin shames, by denying them the burials they are due, denying them the honor they are due as soldiers, after they have been killed in the battles that Russia has sent them to fight in. So it doesn’t take so much of a stretch of imagination to suspect that Russia would be equally careless with the lives of those living in the neighboring countries.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.