Russia accuses West of undermining OSCE security body

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov waits before a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with members of the Security Council in Moscow
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov waits before a meeting of President Vladimir Putin with members of the Security Council at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia November 18, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Pool via REUTERS

Dec 1 (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday big problems had accumulated in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, accusing the West of spurning the chance to make the OSCE a real bridge with Russia after the Cold War.

Poland denied a Russian delegation visas to attend a meeting of OSCE foreign ministers in Lodz on Thursday and Friday, and said Moscow would be represented by its permanent representative to the OSCE instead.

At a news conference timed to coincide with the meeting, Lavrov recited a list of Russian historical grievances against the West, saying the "reckless enlargement" of NATO had devalued the basic principles of the 57-nation OSCE, Europe's top security and rights watchdog.

"Taking advantage of its numerical superiority in this organisation, the West has been trying for many years to, if you like, privatise it. Or perhaps it's more correct to say it is trying to carry out a takeover raid on the OSCE, to subjugate this last platform for regional dialogue," Lavrov said.

Later on, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was asked whether Russia could leave the pan-European body.

"By virtue of the position that the OSCE takes, the organisation automatically loses its effectiveness. And the organisation loses the opportunity, not in words but in deeds, to address issues of security and cooperation in Europe," Peskov was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

Ukraine has called for Russia to be expelled from the OSCE for invading its neighbour. Kyiv also objected to the title of an event at the Lodz meeting that referred to the OSCE being at a crossroads.

"I dared to disagree with the title. OSCE is on a highway to hell because Russia abuses its rules and principles ...," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

"Everything has been tried in regards to Russia: to please, to appease, to be nice, to be neutral, to engage, not to call a spade a spade. The bottom line: it would be better for OSCE to carry on without Russia."

Speaking in Lodz, U.S. Under Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said Russia had "failed demonstrably to break the OSCE".

"On the contrary, this organisation, like the U.N., has said 'No' to Moscow's efforts to divide it, to paralyse it, to destroy it," she said.

Reporting by Reuters, Editing by Andrew Osborn, Timothy Heritage and Mark Heinrich

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