Foreign Policy Research Institute

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Foreign Policy Research Institute

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INTERNATIONAL WEEKLY № 14 (01.03.2017 — 15.03.2017)

All for a peacekeeping mission in the Donbass, but with different purposes and intentions.

From the beginning of September continues the debate about question of the UN peacekeeping troops deployment on the territory of Ukraine. The North Atlantic Alliance has not escaped this topic. The position of Moscow in this matter is that the peacekeeping troops should be deployed onlyalong the Inter-Entity Boundary Line and this issue can not be solved without direct contact with representatives of pro-Russian militants in the Donbas. Later, Putin adjusted the goal and agreed to peacekeepers to protect the OSCE mission in the conflict zone, which practically does not change the essence. In this case, there are great doubts about the feasibility of the «blue helmets» deployment, since their main mission is not to protect the OSCE monitoring mission in the conflict zone. Ukraine opposes to such a scenario and insists that peacekeepers should be deployed throughout the occupied Donbas area, not only along the Inter-Entity Boundary Line.

NATO's position on this issue is as follows. The Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg, said he supported the proposal to deploy the United Nations peacekeeping contingent on the territory of Eastern Ukraine. ‘I welcome the proposal to deploy the UN peacekeeping force to Ukraine’, – the NATO Secretary General said on Thursday, September 21, after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in New York. He also added that the important is deployment of the UN ‘blue helmets’ not only along the Inter-Entity Boundary Line, as Russia proposed, but also throughout the whole conflict zone in the East of Ukraine [1].

The former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and former deputy head of the Alliance Alexander Vershbow urge the UN Security Council to decide on the deployment of a peacekeeping mission on the occupied territories of the Donbas. At the same time, they criticized Vladimir Putin's proposal for a peacekeeping mission, which in their opinion was intended to undermine its effectiveness. In particular, Rasmussen stated: ‘The devil always lies in details. However, the question of the UN peacekeeping forces is currently in the process of discussion’ [2]. NATO Former leader Anders Fogh Rasmussen also said: ‘We are all for peace, and in order to create peace, peacekeeping forces are needed. However, the proposal of President Putin is unacceptable, since it will not restore peace, but only legitimizes the presence of Russian troops in the east of Ukraine. But let's work on it. Let's make a decision that would create a proper peacekeeping force that will be monitored the border between Russia and Ukraine’, – said the former Secretary-General [3].

Vershbow and Rasmussen offer three-step peacekeepers deployment in Ukraine:

1) along the Inter-Entity Boundary Line;

2) deeper in the occupied territories;

3) on the last phase, peacekeeping forces must fully cover the occupied territories and the border of Ukraine [4].

The US, as the most powerful member of NATO, also supported the Ukrainian format the UN peacekeepers deployment. The President of Ukraine on the results of the meeting with Donald Trump announced this. According to Poroshenko, the United States supported the position of Kyiv, according to which the UN peacekeeping mission should operate throughout the whole occupied territory of the Donbas and on an uncontrolled border with Russia [5].

Most NATO leaders do not believe in Putin's good intentions to resolve the situation in the East of Ukraine, because it is obvious that without his initiative such a situation would not have developed at all. However, the Kremlin does not recognize itself as a side of the conflict, and Kyiv has not fastened legally the status of the war and Russia as a party to the conflict, so de jure this conflict looks more like an internal one. Moreover, the UN peacekeepers are not being deployed at and during the anti-terrorist operation. Therefore, the question remains whether the UN peacekeeping mission will be effective and whether the UN will give its consent for it. In fact, in order to obtain the UN mandate for such a mission, at least requires the consent of both sides.. At the same time, who besides Ukraine is the second belligerent side: DPR / LPR or Russia? – it is unknown. Again, let's recall the experience of Georgia and Abkhazia. Events in Georgia show that even if the mission has a mandate from reputable international organizations (UN and OSCE), but has no military component and the ability to protect itself, it becomes vulnerable and dependent on the sides of the conflict. The UN mission in Abkhazia and the OSCE mission in South Ossetia relied on the ‘peacekeeping forces of the CIS’, which in fact consisted of the Russian Armed Forces, thus legitimizing their presence in the conflict zone [6]. However, NATO has confirmed that it will not allow the Russian troops to be legitimized on the Ukrainian territory and the terrorist organizations of the LPR and the DPR, which Putin was counting on in his draft resolution of the UN Security Council.