Kurt Volker: There is no difference between Crimea and Eastern Ukraine

Author : Elina Beketova

Respondent : Kurt Volker

Source : 112 Ukraine

The idea of the UN peacekeeping force with broad area responsibilities, with control of Ukraine-Russia border and the cantonment and monitoring of heavy weapons, is certainly something we should be exploring
19:44, 21 September 2017

112 Agency

Special US Envoy to Ukraine Kurt Volker spoke to the 112 TV Channel's Elina Beketova on the sidelines of the YES meeting that took place in Kyiv on September 15. He speaks of the necessity of the UN peacekeeping mission and the terms of its deployment.

The series of interviews 112 International Insight introduces the viewpoint of influential Western experts, who are the source of a new, fresh point of view, different from the one of the Ukrainian experts, who usually comment on the current situation.

Related: Fareed Zakaria: Americans feel very strongly that Ukraine should be supported

'It is still hard work going on, the levels of violence are downed a little bit in the past few weeks but it is still a very serious conflict. And as we know over 10 000 people have been killed, millions of people have been displaced. This has an urgency to it. We need to bring peace; we need to resolve this conflict. The issue here is that Russian forces are occupying a part of Ukrainian territory and that is perpetuating a conflict. The only place in Ukraine where Russian-speaking people are not safe is where the Russian forces are. If we can find a way to improve security, to have Russian forces withdrawn providing international peacekeeping force throughout the area there would provide for the safety of people. That could be a way forward. As there is a lot of 'ifs' in all that if we can really get there. But the idea of the UN peacekeeping force with broad area responsibilities, with control of Ukraine-Russia border and the cantonment and monitoring of heavy weapons, is certainly something we should be exploring'.

Related: Bernard-Henri Lévy: Ukraine is one of the beating hearts of Europe

Volker also expressed his opinion on the offer by Russia on the resolution of the UN peacekeepers and the way to treat it.

'Russia has opened the discussion in New York. They have proposed a resolution about the UN protection force in Eastern Ukraine. It does not do all those things that I have just said. It is a protection force, not a peacekeeping force. It is on the cease-fire line not throughout the area; it is protecting monitors rather than protecting the population. It has a lot of things that would have to be adjusted. But that is said it is an opening for discussion. I think we should avoid trying to draft resolutions at this point and focus instead on the principles. What would a peacekeeping force need to do? As I said key principles are area security, cantonment and monitoring of heavy weapons and control of international border'.

Related: Marieluise Beck: Idea of UN peacekeepers is correct because OSCE SMM is too weak to stop fighting

Moreover, the US Special Envoy revealed the issues that will be discussed at the meeting of the Ukrainian and American presidents.

'There are a lot of issues to be talked about, including what is going on here in Ukraine, with reform, with fighting corruption, with US support for Ukraine. Particularly, this idea of UN peacekeeping force will also be on the table'.

Related: Lavrov: UN peacekeepers needed in Donbas only to guard OSCE observers

112 TV Channel's Elina Beketova also asked Volker whether he would like to visit the occupied territories or not.

'I would love to visit Donetsk. Let's try to be successful on restoring Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. As far as visiting the conflict zone again, I haven't had an opportunity to schedule that, I have been doing a lot of other meetings with different parties whether it is with Russia, the UN, French and Germans the EU, NATO, OSCE and I am trying to keep all these things in motion. But I do hope to go back'.

Kurt Volker explained the attitude to the issues of Crimea and Donbas.

'There is no difference between Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. It is a Russian invasion, occupation. Russia has claimed annexed Crimea but that is the only difference. Otherwise, it is the same thing. If we are able to make any progress in any area we should take it. Let's not wait, let's see if we can bring peace to some part of Ukraine'.

Related: Russia violates fundamental UN principles in Georgia and Ukraine, - Duda

At the end of the interview, he revealed his opinion on the possibility of joining the Normandy Format by the US.

'I don't think there is a need for that. Normandy Format is doing its job. I mean close contact with my Russian, German, French and Ukrainian counterparts. I know they are talking they have the phone calls, they have their dialogue. We are very closely coordinating about that I do not think the US joining the Normandy Format is evaluated. But I do think the US is evaluated, bringing a bilateral US-Russian dynamic to the discussions and seeing if we can get to a higher level of strategic decision-making by Russia'.

Yalta European Strategy (YES) was founded by businessmen Viktor Pinchuk in 2004 and usually took place in the Livadia Palace in Yalta but after the annexation of Crimea, it was relocated to the capital of Ukraine. The opening of the 14th Yalta meeting took place at the Besarabsky Market in the downtown of Kyiv for the first time. YES meetings have brought together heads of state and government such as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Bill Clinton, Dalia Grybauskaitė, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Bronisław Komorowski, Mario Monti, Shimon Peres and Donald Trump. This year the partakers of the forum have concentrated on such global issues as the shifts in the geopolitical allocation of forces and changes in the global economy.

Related: YES forum in Ukraine: the participants and topics of discussion

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