BERLIN, April 27. /ITAR-TASS/. Germany’s government did a silly and highly unprofessional thing as it sent a group of Bundeswehr experts to Ukraine upon an arrangement with the Kiev authorities, Alexander Neu, a deputy of Bundestag representing the Left Party said Sunday at a meeting of the parliamentary committee on defense.
He believes an agreement on “a verification operation”, or on the sending of military specialists to the east of Ukraine that was reached by Berlin and Kiev, is doing an obvious disservice to the properly diplomatic observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that is currently doing its job in Ukraine.
Charges of espionage that have been issued to the group by the pro-Russian activists in the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk cannot be dismissed altogether as a minimum and, in addition to it, a question arises on why the detained officers are traveling the east of Ukraine precisely at this moment, Neu said.
The group that supposedly includes three German military experts, a translator and observers from Denmark, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Sweden, one person from each country, arrived in Ukraine under the cover of the OSCE at the invitation of Ukrainian government. It was arrested by people’s self-defense forces near the eastern town of Slavyansk Friday, with the city officials saying the group had been engaging in espionage.
On Sunday, Bundeswehr Colonel Alex Schneider, one of the group’s members, appeared at a news conference in Slavyansk to tell the reporters that he and other members of the group were getting fair and friendly treatment from their detainers in the rebellious East-Ukrainian city, where the population is demanding a referendum on the future status of the Donbass Coalfields area and Ukraine’s changeover to a federated state structure.
Col Schneider said the military experts making up the group were in good health and no one had done physical harm to them after their detention. He added he did not known when their release might take place.
He said members of the group had spoken much to the people who had been guarding them since their arrival in Slavyansk and they had learned much about how the situation was affecting the locals’ families and how the current situation was exerting impact on people’s lives.
Col Schneider also said the group members had been stunned upon seeing the level of impoverishment of the local people.
In the meantime, a spokesman for Bundeswehr said Sunday the dispatching of observers to Ukraine by a number of member-states of the OSCE had been coordinated with the security organization’s steering bodies.
He said the case in hand was not a bilateral measure of any kind but, rather, a coordinated mission at the invitation of the Kiev authorities, adding that inspections of this kind began last month.
The spokesman said that Germany was the fourth country to take on the leadership of a mission, the alleged purpose of which was to build up transparency and to steer the formation of trust.