Experts say this may be a sign that Moscow has been making concessions on the conflict in Eastern Ukraine
PHoto: REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko
Deploying armed UN peacekeepers in Ukraine’s south-east might in fact be a good idea, Russian president Vladimir Putin said in his speech at the Eastern European Forum, adding that their mission, as he saw it, would be to protect the OSCE representatives patrolling the conflict zone.
It was Ukraine who was the first to call for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in Donbas. It cited the Minsk Agreement [the deal to end the armed conflict in Ukraine signed in September 2014] as it did so, saying that having the peacekeepers on the now separatist-controlled territories would be the first move towards ensuring that the local government elections to be held there will be according to Ukrainian law.
Putin, however, stressed that the peacekeepers could only be deployed on the demarcation line [the buffer zone between the Ukrainian army and the rebel forces], whereas Kiev wants them on the Ukraine-Russia border as well, saying that would stop Russian military assistance and mercenaries from getting into Donbas.
“Russia is trying to distort the idea and purpose of the peacekeeping operation,” the Ukrainian foreign ministry said. The Ministry further stated that it was yet another attempt by Moscow to downplay the Russian aggression and to present the situation as an internal Ukrainian conflict.
At the same time, the ministry said it ‘has taken note of the Russian president’s statement about the possibility of having UN peacekeepers deployed in Donbas’.
Meanwhile, international experts have interpreted Putin’s words as an obvious concession. Having armed UN peacekeepers in Donbas will put an end to the hostilities, prevent provocations and reduce the risk of new outbreaks of the conflict.