24,000 armed personnel needed for UN peacekeeping in Donbas, report says
A UN peacekeeping force in Ukraine will require 20,000 armed soldiers and 4,000 police officers to help resolve the armed conflict in the Donbas region, according to a report produced by former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is currently serving as an advisor to President Poroshenko. The report will be presented this week to key officials at the Munich Security Conference, including U.S. Special Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker, reported the Reuters news agency on Feb. 13. “The operation should include several European countries, such as Sweden; countries that have experience in peacekeeping operations, such as Brazil; and countries that Russia trusts, such as Belarus,” said Richard Gowan, a co-author of the report. As a non-NATO member, Sweden should lead the mission, Gowan said.
The UN peacekeeping mission will enable holding elections in adherence to the Minsk Accords, which would grant autonomy to the separate territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Ukrainian state. Such elections could be held with a year of the mission’s introduction, Gowan said, as reported by Reuters. The peacekeepers would be kept for another two years during a cooling period to stabilize the situation, he said.
Zenon Zawada: The UN mission being described could be the largest in its history. Certain diplomats and experts even estimated a mission should involve as many as 50,000 armed personnel, which Gowan reportedly said is unrealistic and wouldn’t be supported by Russia. We have doubts that even a mission of 24,000 armed officials will be supported by Russia. Moreover, we see too many points of contention at this point for a peacekeeping mission to be agreed upon, which the Reuters report acknowledges.
We continue to believe that Putin will agree to a UN peacekeeping mission in Donbas only if the Ukrainian parliamentary elections (scheduled for October 2019) don’t produce a strong result for Russian-oriented parties. But we see the Russian-oriented parties potentially forming the opposition in the parliament, which will encourage the Russians to continue to lobby EU legislatures for the relaxation or removal of sanctions. In the meantime, the Russians will use these peacekeeping discussions to buy time and stall with any compliance with the Minsk Accords.