Ukraine's insufferable expectations of peacekeepers in Donbas

Author : Mykyta Sinitsyn

Source : 112 Ukraine

OSCE monitors or UN peacekeepers cannot return Donbas to Ukraine, they might only monitor the situation and prevent it from aggravation
23:14, 7 September 2017

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For a long time, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko have been talking about possible deployment of peacekeepers into Donbas (in terms of the UN General Assembly decision, which is expected to be taken in September in New York). Russian President Vladimir Putin said that presence of peacekeepers in the territory of Donbas is quite a good idea. Moreover, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs even received an order to prepare an appropriate resolution, although peacekeepers in this case will protect the OSCE mission in Donbas.

Such restrictions have caused dissatisfaction among Ukrainian politicians and experts who said that in this way Russia wants to freeze the conflict and repeat "Transnistrian scenario" (an unrecognized state).

Politicians and experts are either unfamiliar with the specifics of the activities of UN peacekeeping missions, or are simply dishonest. President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko often calls for the UN peacekeeping contingent, and it sounds almost like a panacea for all troubles. The same words he said about involvement of the OSCE Monitoring Mission, but now president blames OSCE for inaction, thereby contradicting himself and embarrassing residents of the country, who are not familiar with mechanisms of UN conducts peacekeeping missions.

Related: OSCE confirms presence of Russian militaries in Donbas

First of all, it should be clarified that the UN missions are of two types: unarmed, monitoring the ceasefire, disarming processes, and armed missions, the so-called "blue helmets." In the second case, the peacekeeper units usually occupy positions between the opposing sides and try not to allow a clash between them. However, it is difficult to do this, having in its arsenal only small arms and light armored vehicles. Nevertheless, even their use is authorized by the UN military only for self-defense.

A memorable case of this kind is the siege of Jadotville in Democratic Republic of Congo (now Republic of Zaire) in September 1960. Then a company of peacekeepers from the 32nd Irish peacekeeping battalion for 5 days have been fending off attacks of one of the opposing sides and finally gave up, having exhausted all possibilities for resistance.

However, such cases are exceptions to the rules, the routine work of peacekeepers is patrolling and monitoring, without participation in hostilities, taking control of disputed territories and transferring them to the parties to the conflict.

Related: DPR and LPR order militants to not limit OSCE observers actions

That is, presence of peacekeepers in Donbas can only reduce the level of violence in the region, but if one of the parties would like to inflame the conflict, peacekeepers armed with small arms and light armored vehicles are unlikely to be able to prevent from starting a war.

July 11, 1995 became a black day for peacekeeping. Dutch peacekeepers left the city of Srebrenica, allowing ethnic cleansing by the Serbs, which resulted into death of thousands of Bosnians.

The main task of UN peacekeepers is "conservation" of the conflict, launching it from a "hot" stage to a more "cold" and peaceful one, during which the main role goes to the diplomats.

So, the first UN peacekeeping mission in the Middle East after the first Arab-Israeli war continues until now, without affecting the subsequent emergence of numerous wars and armed conflicts in the region.

In 1964, the UN peacekeeping mission began its work after the clashes between the Greeks and the Turks on the island of Cyprus. However, it could not prevent clashes in 1967, and in 1974, when army of Turkey by occupied northern part of the island. In fact, everything that peacekeepers could do was protection and evacuation of foreign citizens from the island. Since 1974, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus exists on the island, which is partially recognized (only by Turkey), and 1200 UN peacekeepers control the buffer zone and ensure that the ceasefire is not violated.

Related: New OSCE Secretary General to visit Kyiv before September 12

Since 1978, the UN Interim Force stands in Lebanon (since the withdrawal of the Israeli military), but their presence has not prevented the creation of enclaves controlled by various factions in the country and the heyday of the terrorist group Hezbollah. Since 1999, UN peacekeepers have been working in Kosovo, where they deployed after the end of the active phase of the fighting and the operation of NATO forces for "forcing peace" in Serbia.

In a word, the introduction of peacekeepers does not mean resolving a conflict, rather, preventing active hostilities.

Related: OSCE calls on Ukraine not to arrest, deport foreign journalists

On the whole, the peacekeeping mission can repeat the fate of OSCE Joint center for control and coordination, which was expected to resolve the conflict in 2014, or at least completely ensure ceasefire. When this did not happen, OSCE observers were accused of sympathy for one of the parties, betrayal, blindness and deafness. For some reason, they forgot that the mission staffs were unarmed ordinary civilians, who could not influence the whole situation, they could only record what was happening.

A vivid example of overstated expectations from OSCE observers and UN peacekeepers is the story of South African photographer Kevin Carter. In 1993, he has got the Pulitzer Prize for a photo of a starving child in Sudan, exhausted from hunger, and a vulture, waiting for a death of the baby to eat it. Although the photographer's colleagues said that after taking this photo Carter drove away the bird, he was accused of cruelty and inhumanity. Three months after receiving the Pulitzer Prize, Carter committed suicide, unable to withstand attacks and forget the notorious cadres of Sudanese famine. The hero of the photo, who brought the award to the photographer, died 15 years later.

Related: OSCE announces new patrol bases in Donbas

Photographer Kevin Carter, OSCE monitors, UN peacekeepers are ordinary people who will do what they are supposed to do at work. Returning the territory of Donbas is Ukraine’s obligation, the main goal of its military and diplomats.

Related: 27 civilians died, 62 got injured in Donbas, - OSCE SMM

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