Baltic states, along with Ukraine, have announced a firm boycott of an upcoming Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) meeting in North Macedonia. The move comes in response to the confirmation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's participation, a presence the boycotting nations see as a potential platform for Russian propaganda, and a risk of legitimizing Russia's ongoing aggression.
Asserting on European Security
The foreign ministers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have expressed their deep regret over the decision permitting Lavrov's personal attendance. They see this as lending legitimacy to Russia as a rightful member of the community of free nations. The ministers have stated unequivocally that they will not be part of this event and will not share responsibility for the potential consequences this might entail.
Critical Stance Against OSCE
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis leveled criticism at the OSCE for its ineffective handling of Russian interests versus European security. He highlighted Russia's continued obstruction of the OSCE's efforts and its disruptive influence on the organization's functioning. The Baltic ministers have called for an immediate and unconditional halt to Russian aggression, withdrawal of its forces, compensation for damages, and accountability for international crimes.
Ukraine Joins the Boycott
Ukraine, citing the same concerns, has also confirmed its boycott of the OSCE meeting. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba expressed concerns about the decision to authorize Lavrov's attendance, emphasizing the need to save the OSCE from Russia's undue influence. Ukraine has called for the removal of Russia from the OSCE, labeling it as the perpetrator of the largest armed aggression in Europe since World War II.
North Macedonia’s Stand and U.S. Involvement
North Macedonia, currently chairing the OSCE, has permitted Lavrov to participate despite joining Western sanctions against Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine. The meeting is set to take place later in the week, with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also slated to attend. Notably, no meeting between Russian and U.S. representatives is scheduled, and Blinken had a brief encounter with Lavrov at a G20 meeting in India, despite ongoing high-level contacts being generally avoided since Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine.