Alexander Vershbow, an American diplomat, former Deputy NATO Secretary General, shared his idea of a peacekeeping force to Donbas and Normandy Format in his exclusive interview to the 112 Ukraine TV channel's Elina Beketova on the sidelines of the YES conference, which took place in Kyiv on September 15.
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 comments on the current situation.
Commenting on UN peacekeeping mission, Alexander Vershbow said:
“I recognize that Russian proposal by its own terms is not adequate. It would potentially freeze the conflict, which is the opposite of what is needed. But at least it's a start of a possible conversation, which should take place in the United Nations Security Council on what could be the mandate for the real peacekeeping force that would stabilize the situation, create conditions for the implementation of Minsk and get Russia out of the Donbas. So that would be a very different peacekeeping mission than Russians have proposed. It would ultematly need to extend across all the occupied territory and that includes the international border so that the political aspects of Minsk could be implemented because with the UN force there, all the Russian troops, the illegal militias should be disbanded, the heavy weapons should be not only locked up, they should be removed. So that you could envisage the establishment of legitimate local government through elections, humanitarian aid and the return of refugees, - all with the support of international community. So that's my idea of the peacekeeping force for Donbas.”
"It's a good timing that Ukraine is not Permanent member right now and so it can speak very directly on these issues. I think that permanent members are all studying the Russian proposal, consulting with Ukraine and with themselves on what if anything could be done with this proposal to actually set in motion a process that would implement the Minsk agreements. I think some people share the sceptisism that we heard a lot at this conference that it's all a trick, it's a trap and so no one, I think is going to make any hasty moves to embrace the Russian proposal. But as a former diplomat I would say you have to test every possibility at the negotiating table because there will not be a military solution in Donbas, there will be a political solution. And for better or worse, Minsk is the framework that we have and UN peacekeeping force could fill in one of the blank spots of Minsk which is an implementation mechanism,” he noted.
Answering about the expectations from the meeting of Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and U.S. President Donald Trump, he said:
“I expect it's going to be one of the big subjects. They (Poroshenko, Trump) had a very good initial discussion in May and i' think the administration's policy has evolved in a very positive way. I would say contrary to earlier expectations it's been very strongly supporting Ukraine's sovereignty, very robust on maintaining the sanctions until the Russians end their aggression and it also reflects this new diplomatic activism by the United States which could help the Normandy format gain a little bit more political weight than was possible when the U.S. was hanging in the background. And I don't think it's necessary to be in the Normandy format as long as this close coordination among all the different actors. The Russians may actually like to deal with the United States face to face, one on one. I think Germany and France understand that but the key is not to cut any deals behind the backs of Ukraine.