The world needs to take a harder line on Russia after its annexation of Crimea, a Ukrainian minister said Monday at an international conference in Tokyo.
The two-day meeting involving Asian countries and members of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe comes as tensions flare between the West and Moscow over Ukraine, where pro-Russian forces are fighting against regular troops.
It also comes as Japan and some Southeast Asian countries voice disquiet about what they say is intimidation by China over disputed territories in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
“More vigorous measures are needed for the organisation to respond to the violations by the Russian Federation of the OSCE policy principles and commitments,” Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s Deputy Foreign Minister, said in the opening session of the conference.
“The latest developments in and around Ukraine, particularly ongoing escalation in eastern regions of Ukraine sponsored by an OSCE member (Russia) testifies to the ongoing breach of the fundamental OSCE principles… that means guaranteeing peace and security,” he said.
“They also indicated the need for readjustment of… mechanisms and instruments for crisis prevention and crisis management,” he said.
Envoys from Russia did not speak at the opening session, which was open to reporters.
The OSCE — a Vienna-based body that was first tasked with securing peace during the Cold War — has played a key role in the Ukraine crisis, sending 35 military observers to Kiev, and later sending monitors for the country’s presidential election.
A new diplomatic row exploded this weekend after Ukraine’s acting foreign minister called Putin “a prick” while trying to restrain protesters who attacked Moscow’s embassy compound in Kiev on Saturday.
The embassy protest came in response to the deaths of 49 servicemen killed Saturday when pro-Kremlin rebels downed their military transport plane with weapons Kiev believes were supplied by Moscow.
“The security environments of Asia as well as Europe are becoming more inseparable and are increasingly severe,” Japan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Shinsuke Sugiyama said, noting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has recently held talks with European leaders and the head of NATO.
“Japan’s comprehensive approach to security has a strong affinity to the OSCE’s approach” as Tokyo seeks dialogue with a broad range of countries, he said, referring to Abe’s desire that Japan play a greater role of “proactive contribution to peace”.
Japan is one of the oldest “Asian partners” of the OSCE, established in 1975 during the time of detente in the Cold War period.