A peacekeeping mission should have access to the entire occupied area of the Donbas, including the uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian border. However, without compromises from Russia launching a full-fledged peacekeeping mission in the East of Ukraine will be unrealistic. This was discussed during a public discussion “What kind of Peacekeeping Mission does Ukraine need?” organized by the New Europe Center on October 17.
The speakers include Richard Gowan, Senior Fellow, UNU University Centre for Policy Research and European Council on Foreign Relations, and author of “Can the United Nations Unite Ukraine?” (The Hudson Institute); Robert Serry, diplomat, former United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, author of the report on peacekeeping mission in Ukraine; Oleksandr Motsyk, Ambassador, Representative of Ukraine to the political subgroup on the Minsk Trilateral Contact Group.
Leo Litra, Senior Research Fellow, New Europe Center, moderated the public discussion.
During his introductory speech, Leo Litra reminded that for the first time the idea of deployment of the peacekeepers in Donbas was announced by Ukraine in early 2015.
“There is a strong feeling that the process of conflict settlement in the Donbas between Moscow and Kyiv will be stalled until the elections in Ukraine take place”, – noted Mr Litra.
According to Richard Gowan, the idea that 50-70 thousand peacekeepers can be deployed in the Donbas, as it was in Kosovo, is unrealistic.
“The peacekeeping mission as such is not a solution to the conflict in the Donbas. The solution of this conflict is political decision that should be made by Russia”, – he said.
“The peacekeepers should have access to all occupied territory (of the Donbas) up to the border, have heavy weaponry and use limited force to deal with spoilers”, – Richard Gowan added.
In turn, Robert Serry stressed the need to unlock the Minsk agreements in order to achieve peace in the East of Ukraine.
“Peacekeepers should be located around the whole territory of the conflict zone in the Donbas, including the Ukrainian-Russian border”, – said diplomat.
He also drew attention to the need to introduce a “zero phase”, lasting from two to four months, in order to deploy a peacekeeping contingent:
“There is no real ceasefire in the Donbas, and we do not believe that it will immediately come as soon as UN peacekeepers are deployed. Parties to the conflict should fulfill their ceasefire commitments, according to the Minsk Agreements”.
Oleksandr Motsyk emphasized that the peacekeeping mission in the Donbas is needed, but not in the way in which Russia proposed: deploying peacekeepers only along the front line solely for protecting the representatives of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission.
“Peacekeepers in the Donbas should be placed on the front line, in the places of accumulations of military equipment in the occupied territory, as well as in the uncontrolled part of the Russian-Ukrainian border”- noted Representative of Ukraine to the political subgroup on the Minsk Trilateral Contact Group.
However, according to him, Moscow is not willing to talk about the deployment of peacekeepers in the uncontrolled section of the Ukrainian-Russian border.
“The peacekeeping mission in the Donbas should be balanced in its national component, otherwise it will not be accepted by Russia. However, European states should take the lead in this issue, for example, Finland and Sweden”, – Motsyk added.
In addition, he raised the issue of the possible number of peacekeeping mission in the Donbas: “Ukraine would expect the PKO to have not less than 20 000 peacekeepers and 5000 police personnel in the Donbas”.
“The goal of the peacekeeping mission should be the restoration of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine,” – the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary said.