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Title: Ukraine, Protracted Conflicts and the OSCE
Author: Philip Remler

Ukraine, Protracted Conflicts and the OSCE [Remler]


Aspects of the Ukraine crisis present enormous problems for the future of OSCE and other international conflict mediation. Annexation, “hybrid” warfare, the proliferation of non-recognized separatist polities, the absence of a shared baseline of facts and, therefore, the sharp divergence of narratives, and perhaps most of all, the development of fortress mentalities – all of these have challenged the “Helsinki acquis” on which the OSCE is based. Developments in the protracted conflicts – greater Russian control over three of the separatist polities to the point of crypto-annexation and the spread of the idea that democracy and human rights are no more than tools of Western imperialist domination – affect the way in which the OSCE and its mediators are perceived. The cycle of Russian assertiveness and Western response has created a self-reinforcing spiral that consolidates alliances among those who share a fortress mentality, is used to justify past actions, discourages “weakness” in the face of pressure, and encourages ever more aggressive responses to it. In the face of this discouraging picture, OSCE mediators should build on the remaining areas of co-operation – especially on the Karabakh conflict – and emphasize OSCE impartiality. The OSCE has always been a “big tent,” a forum of diverse equals, none of whom has a perfect record on democracy and human rights. Criticizing and being criticized is not, therefore, a “double standard,” but a dialogue that enriches all participating States.


protracted conflicts – Karabakh – Abkhazia – South Ossetia – Transdniestria – Azerbaijan – Armenia – Georgia – Moldova – Ukraine – Russia


Title: Ukraine, Protracted Conflicts and the OSCE
Author: Philip Remler
Language: English
Year: 2015
Volume: 26
Issue: 1
Pages: 88–106
In: Security and Human Rights
E-ISSN: 1875-0230