In a letter obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, the head of the Ukrainian delegation to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Mykyta Poturaiev, wrote: “We are not in a position to attend the winter meeting in case of the participation of Russia.”
The letter, dated February 10 and addressed to the Speaker of the Parliamentary Assembly, Margareta Cederfelt, noted that Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine had broad support from Russian politicians, including members of the Russian delegation to the OSCE.
“We have no doubt that the Russian delegation will use the OSCE … to justify the aggression against my country and to condone numerous war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Ukrainian people,” Poturaiev wrote.
He suggested postponing the meeting “to preserve the integrity of the Assembly”, a separate body made up of 323 parliamentarians from the 57 OSCE member states.
The Vienna-based OSCE was established during the Cold War as a platform for dialogue between East and West. The group has a broad mission, including peace, human rights, arms control and other security issues. The invasion of Ukraine has complicated her work, with many Western countries joining Ukraine in protest against Russia’s participation.
The Austrian government has granted visas to the Russian delegates to the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, even though they are under sanctions from the European Union and despite protests from 20 countries, including Britain, France and Canada. As host countries, the Austrians say they are obliged to grant visas to representatives of all OSCE member states.
After meeting with members of the assembly and Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk on Tuesday, Cederfelt decided to go ahead with next week’s meeting as scheduled, given assembly rules that say the group’s winter meeting will be postponed during the first two weeks. months to take place. of the year.
Nat Parry, a spokesman for the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, said it was “too late” to postpone the meeting.
Lithuania is so far the only other country to publicly announce that it will boycott the meeting. Other countries are still weighing their options. Latvia will decide on Thursday, Katrina Kaktina, the country’s ambassador to the OSCE, told the AP.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine