Overseas Minister Alexander Schallenberg.
Thierry Monasse, Getty Pictures
- Of their first journey to the EU since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian MPs are due at a world assembly in Austria.
- EU member Austria stated it could not bar the Russian delegation from a gathering in Vienna by the Group for Safety and Co-operation in Europe, citing its authorized obligation as host to the OSCE seat.
- The UK and Poland refused visas to Russians attending OSCE conferences they hosted final yr.
Of their first journey to the EU since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, Russian MPs are due at a world assembly in Austria on Thursday regardless of sanctions and a deliberate boycott by Kyiv.
EU member Austria stated it could not bar the Russian delegation from a gathering in Vienna by the Group for Safety and Co-operation in Europe, citing its authorized obligation as host to the OSCE seat.
However Ukraine and European Union member Lithuania have stated they’d boycott the assembly over the participation of the Russian delegation headed by Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy chairman of the Russian parliament’s decrease home, who’s beneath worldwide sanctions.
“They (Russians) aren’t concerned about dialogue, dialogue. They’re coming just for propaganda,” Ukraine delegation head Mykyta Poturaiev informed reporters in Vienna on Wednesday.
It’s unacceptable to have in widespread conferences people who find themselves accountable, who voted for this conflict.
Ukraine was joined by 19 different international locations to protest the Russian parliamentarians’ attendance in a letter despatched to the Austrian authorities originally of February.
It’s the first time Tolstoy and one other sanctioned parliamentarian will journey formally to an EU nation since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, precisely one yr in the past.
The UK and Poland refused visas to Russians attending OSCE conferences they hosted final yr however Austria has stated it’s “obliged beneath worldwide regulation to grant entry to the delegates” as host to the OSCE headquarters.
“The date may be very unlucky,” Overseas Minister Alexander Schallenberg conceded in an interview with broadcaster ORF forward of the invasion anniversary.
However on the identical time, we should not disregard the truth that we want platforms. The OSCE has by no means been an organisation of like-minded individuals.
The OSCE was based in 1957 to foster relations between the Western and Jap blocs and its present 57 members embody NATO international locations and allies of Moscow.
Austria can be a member.
As a militarily impartial nation that’s not a member of NATO, it has nonetheless firmly condemned the invasion.
And although it has not supplied arms to Kyiv, it has despatched humanitarian support to Ukraine and hosts tens of hundreds of refugees.
Chancellor Karl Nehammer is likely one of the few Western leaders who has met Russian President Vladimir Putin because the invasion, saying he wished to push for an finish to the battle.
However ties with Moscow additional soured earlier this month when Austria expelled 4 Russian diplomats, together with two accredited with the United Nations in Vienna, saying they acted “in a fashion incompatible with their diplomatic standing”.
Moscow reciprocated by expelling 4 Austrian diplomats, saying Vienna’s motion “causes critical injury to bilateral relations, that are already in disaster”.
Gerhard Mangott, professor of worldwide relations on the College of Innsbruck, stated the Austrian authorities has reversed course within the final yr.
“In truth Austria very clearly broke with Moscow after the beginning of the conflict,” Mangott stated. “Earlier than, there was a really pleasant coverage.”
Austria’s hyperlinks to Russia have repeatedly made headlines previously, similar to when a former overseas minister invited Putin to her wedding ceremony and danced with him in 2018.
For the reason that starting of the conflict, Austrian firms have additionally come beneath scrutiny over their hyperlinks to Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has denounced the continued actions of the Raiffeisen financial institution in Russia.
Austrian oil and fuel large OMV has stated it is not going to make investments additional in Russia, including it “will not be a core area for us”.
Austrian and Russian fuel ties date again a long time: In 1968, the Soviet Union signed a fuel contract with Austria, making it the primary western nation to get fuel from there.
Austrian fuel trade specialists insist Russian fuel will proceed to be essential for the nation, which earlier than the conflict imported some 80 % of its fuel from Moscow.