UN peacekeeping mission: opportunities and risks for a safe peace
On 13 February 2018, a roundtable “UN Peacekeeping Mission: Opportunities and Risks for a Safe Peace” was held in Kyiv.
This was the first event within the framework of the newly established National Dialogue on Peace and Safe Reintegration, a platform for discussion of the Donbas reintegration and security problems, initiated by a number of public organisations.
“It is important that the question of the peacekeeping contingent in Ukraine be as depoliticised as possible,” said Yulia Tyshchenko, an analyst at UCIPR, at the beginning of the discussion. – Red lines and possible trade-offs have to be determined solely on the basis of national interests and their own strategic vision of the prospects for resolving the conflict in the Donbas. To strengthen our own subjectivity, we need a clear vision of what we want from an international peacekeeping mission”.
“Compulsion to peace is often an unnecessary expenditure of forces and resources; therefore, the work of peacekeepers should be preceded by an agreement on the terms of a truce, which will be monitored by the UN contingent, “said Yakko Oksanen, an international expert on UN Peacebuilding.
Hryhoriy Nemyria, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and International Relations, believes that the composition of the mission should be increased to 30-40 thousand, and MP Andriy Teteruk believes that peacekeepers should be strengthened not only by police but also by the Armed Forces and National Guard.
The participants of the roundtable also expressed their views on the composition of the peacekeeping contingent.
Hryhoriy Nemyrya argues that the principle should be followed when neighbouring countries are not represented there. Olena Snigir from the National Institute for Strategic Studies believes that the presence in the peacekeeping contingent of Russia’s military allies, Belarus and Kazakhstan, is unacceptable for Ukraine.
Instead, the Deputy Minister for temporarily occupied territories and internally displaced persons Heorhiy Tuka and international expert Anna Shelest do not see this as a serious problem, since no country can have a majority in the mission.
As Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of Ukraine Roman Bezsmertny noted that the question of the number of peacekeepers is not critical. The question is “which functions they will perform in the Donbas?”. The participants of the discussion agreed that Ukraine should take a more proactive stance. Of course, we can count on the support of the West, which squeezes sanctions on Russia, but they will cause tangible losses to the Russian economy only after 5-10 years.
According to the Chairman of the Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on Foreign Affairs Hanna Hopko, a certain step towards strengthening our subjectivity is the adoption by the Verkhovna Rada of the Law “On the peculiarities of the state policy of ensuring the state sovereignty of Ukraine in the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts”. Thanks to it, the conflict in the East is now described in terms of international law. Ukraine should take the same principled position when discussing the mandate of the future peacekeeping mission, since “Russia will try to impose Donbas on conditions that we can not accept”.
In addition, peacekeeping forces need to be considered in the wider context – as part of the efforts to form the International Transitional Administration in the East. The next step is Ukraine’s operational engagement in coordinating UN, EU and OSCE missions. In particular, political scientist Volodymyr Lupatsy mentioned this.
But in the present situation, it should be realistic. Most likely, Ukraine will return to the practical aspects of the issue of peacekeepers only in 2019, after the presidential and parliamentary elections. This was stated by Volodymyr Fesenko, Chairman of the Center for Applied Political Studies.