Monitors from the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine during a briefing. Photo: OSCE/Evgeniy Maloletka
The first Austrian military specialist will join the OSCE mission to observe the fragile ceasefire in Ukraine's civil war on Sunday, reported the Austrian Press Agency (APA).
Major Patrick Kremer, an officer in the Austrian army, will join the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMMU) initially for a six month period, to help with monitoring of the ceasefire agreed between the Ukrainian government and Russian-backed rebel forces.
Kremer will relocate on Sunday to begin his operational tour in the east of the country, together with another 260 OSCE observers, including four civilian experts from Austria.
Born in Salzburg, Kremer speaks five languages, is married with three children, and lives in Lower Austria.
"Austria as a neutral country has always campaigned for a political solution to the conflict. The ceasefire is a prerequisite for serious peace negotiations. It makes me proud that the Austrian Armed Forces, through the use of Major Kremer, can contribute to de-escalation
," said Austrian Defence Minister Gerald Klug.
Foreign Secretary Sebastian Kurz said that "Austria continues to make an active contribution to the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine. The current ceasefire is the chance! This we have to secure and protect by all means. If successful, diplomacy can try again to find a solution beyond military conflicts."
Major Kremer is a highly experienced officer. He has been a Mine Awareness trainer (where soldiers are trained in the proper handling of mines and the correct conduct in mine-related accidents) and worked as an instructor at the Military Observer Course of the German national army (Bundeswehr).
Austrian observer drones are also being deployed
to monitor the Ukrainian conflict. OSCE has contracted with the Austrian company Schiebel, announced the OSCE on Friday. "The Camcopter is not armed and will never be armed. It was solely designed and built as a platform for reconnaissance and surveillance," said the OSCE.
"It is the first time that we have technology and equipment of this type in our work in the field."