KYIV - Ukraine said Tuesday it will "boycott" an OSCE meeting in the North Macedonian capital Skopje this week after the invitation of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said he plans to attend.
The Ukrainian Foreign Minister "Dmytro Kuleba will boycott the OSCE ministerial meeting over the decision to allow Lavrov to attend," Kyiv's foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko told AFP.
The foreign affairs ministers of the three Baltic states also said in a joint statement on Tuesday that they will boycott the upcoming OSCE Ministerial Council in Skopje should Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov participate.
Estonian Foreign Minister Margus Tsahkna stated that Lavrov belongs under a special tribunal, not at the OSCE table.
"Over the last two years, we have seen Russia, an OSCE member state, continuously conduct a brutal, full-scale aggression and genocide in Ukraine, including the deportation of thousands of children,” Tsahkna said at the NATO foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.
"Russia's aggression against its independent and peaceful neighbor Ukraine violates international law and is also an attack against the OSCE and its fundamental values."
Foreign Minister Tsahkna strongly condemned the decision to allow Lavrov to participate in the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Skopje.
“Russia will use this opportunity to spread its propaganda and weaken Western unity. The fact is that while the OSCE meeting in Skopje is underway, Russia's war machine will be killing innocent Ukrainians and deporting children without batting an eye," Tsahkna said.
"Lavrov's participation diminishes the horrific crimes that Russia continues to commit. Estonia cannot sit at the same table with the aggressor and bear responsibility for the consequences that Lavrov's participation may entail. It goes against our fundamental principles," the minister said.
Tsahkna emphasized the need to unconditionally stop the aggression, withdraw Russian forces from occupied territories, compensate for the destruction, and hold criminals accountable. However, there are no signs that Russia would even consider acting in accordance with international law and OSCE principles.
"The OSCE was created to rebuild European security, prevent conflicts, and maintain peace. Russia has repeatedly proven with its illegal and brutal actions that it is not a security partner for Europe. In reality, Europe now needs protection from and against Russia," Tsahkna stressed. "Estonia is ready to continue cooperating in upholding the core values of the OSCE and standing against Russian aggression."