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Joke Gone Wrong

OSCE observers found nonexistent Russian airborne troops in Donbass

04.08.2015 21:45

A new OSCE report on Donbas situation came into focus of Ukrainian mass media, who reported about "Russian airborne troops" spotted by OSCE observers.

"OSCE found Russian troopers from Orenburg in Donbas", "OSCE observers spotted Russian airborne troops in Donbas", "OSCE: Russian Military from Orenburg Guard Ammo Depots of Donetsk People's Republic" were main headings of mass media of Ukraine after the OSCE published the report.

OSCE Report

The document says the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) met "an armed man", who claimed he belonged to 16th Orenburg airborne brigade of Russian Armed Forces.

Here is the textual quotation of the document where the observers report on withdrawal positions of DPR heavy armament: "An armed man guarding the facility at one of the sites claimed that he and those present at the site were part of the 16 th airborne brigade from Orenburg, Russian Federation. They did not wear identifying insignia."

As one can see, the observers made a conclusion on the man related to the Russian Armed Forces relying on his claims under very strange circumstances. What made this mysterious "armed man" call himself an airborne trooper from Orenburg? If he really was a Russian paratrooper, he would never tell the observers the truth. Another question is why did a man who was not a Russian paratrooper claim that he was?

Mysterious brigade

This is not the end of the story. The existence of the unit the OSCE reported is in doubt. Firstly, there is no "16th airborne brigade" on the list of units of the Russian Armed Forces. "There is no such unit in the Airborne Forces," affirmed Russian Airborne Force spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Yevgeny Meshkov.

Secondly, Orenburg mass media immediately pointed out that neither such a unit, nor any airborne unit, have ever been located in the city. But the Ukrainian journalists decided not to mention this "vexatious" fact.

It seems that the Ukrainian media once more seized the opportunity of accusing Russia and failed to run a fact check on "Russian troopers".

Selective attention

There were some other details that escaped the Ukrainian mass media reporters' notice. It is the information on Kiev's violations of Minsk Agreements and heavy armor withdrawal accordance. Here is another quotation of the report: "The SMM revisited six Ukrainian Armed Forces sites and found that two continued to be abandoned; another had more weapons than previously recorded by the SMM; one surface-to-air missile system 9K35 (SA-13 Gopher) Strela-10 was missing from one site; some weapons were missing from another; all weapons previously recorded by the SMM at one location were missing." There is no need to say that this part of the report was ignored by the Ukrainian journalists too.

Noteworthy is the fact that such a selectivity works both ways: "an armed man" from the OSCE report became "Russian airborne trooper" only in Ukrainian mass media.

Probably, this situation can be a result of the DPR militiaman's unfortunate joke, who decided to "help" the Ukrainian armed forces to finally find "Russian troops". It seems that they are not able to do it without help.