Dmitry Peskov, President Putin’s spokesman, has given short shrift to a Ukrainian proposal to deploy UN peacekeepers to the border between Russia and the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic.
Ukraine has been lobbying for this proposal for years but it recently re-floated it in response to President Putin’s recent proposal that a lightly armed UN force be sent to Ukraine to protect the OSCE observers in the conflict zone, and especially on the contact line separating the armed forces of the two People’s Republics and the Ukrainian army.
Peskov’s comments as reported by the official Russian news agency TASS shows that the Russians are in no mood to drop their longstanding opposition to this Ukrainian proposal
A UN security mission could ensure the security of the OSCE personnel but there are no plans to deploy such mission to the Russian-Ukrainian border, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
“The Russian initiative is about a UN mission that would ensure the security of the OSCE mission members in areas where they perform their duties,” the Russian presidential spokesman said. He added that “they are mostly active along the line of control.”
When asked if the OSCE mission’s mandate stipulated visits to various parts of Ukraine, including those adjacent to the Russian border, Peskov answered in the affirmative. “Definitely. The plan is to ensure the OSCE mission members’ security in areas where they are active.” “However, there are no plans to deploy a UN mission to the border,” he stressed.
“Actually, the Minsk Agreements tackle the deployment of any missions to the border, and it [the deployment of a UN security mission to the Russian-Ukrainian border] would run contrary to the Minsk Agreements,” the Kremlin spokesman explained.
According to Peskov, “the most important thing is that in any case, the modalities of any missions should be agreed on by the parties to the conflict, that is, Kiev and the unrecognized Donbass republics.”
In saying that the Ukrainian proposal contradicts the provisions of the Minsk Agreement Peskov is absolutely correct. The relevant provision is Point 9 of the Minsk Agreement which reads as follows
Restore control of the state border to the Ukrainian government in the whole conflict zone, which has to start on the first day after the local election and end after the full political regulation (local elections in particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts based on the law of Ukraine and Constitutional reform) by the end of 2015, on the condition of fulfilment of Point 11 – in consultations and in agreement with representatives of particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts within the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.
(bold italics added)
Point 11 of the Minsk Agreement, says that before the complete fulfilment of the Agreement’s constitutional and political provisions the return of full control of the border to the Ukrainian government cannot take place. It reads as follow
Constitutional reform in Ukraine, with a new constitution to come into effect by the end of 2015, the key element of which is decentralisation (taking into account peculiarities of particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, agreed with representatives of these districts), and also approval of permanent legislation on the special status of particular districts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in accordance with the measures spelt out in the attached footnote, by the end of 2015.
In other words the Minsk Agreement requires a ceasefire and negotiations between the Ukrainian government and the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic, elected on the basis of an electoral law negotiated by the two People’s Republics and Ukraine, with such negotiations leading to a new constitution and new elections and the formation thereafter of a new government. Only once this process is completed can full control of the border be transferred to the new government which will have been formed as a result of it.
Ukraine has failed to implement any of the political or constitutional provisions of the Minsk Agreement, which were they ever implemented would spell the end of the Maidan project. Instead it is seeking to regain control of the border under the guise of a UN peacekeeping force so that it can relaunch its stalled offensive and reoccupy the territories of the two People’s Republics.
That this is the true purpose behind the Ukrainian demand for “peacekeepers” to patrol the border can be illustrated easily by a simple point: there is no logic to “peacekeepers” “patrolling” the border since this is an area where no “conflict” is taking place so that “peacekeepers” are not needed there.. The logical place to deploy actual peacekeepers is in the area where the conflict is actually taking place, which is the contact line.
All the parties involved in the Ukrainian conflict – the Russians, the Ukrainians, the leaders of the two People’s Republics, the German and French governments, the NATO bureaucracy and the senior officials of the US governments apart possibly from Donald Trump himself – understand this perfectly well. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov alluded to it in the comments he made on 21st September 2017 to the UN General Assembly
Despite the efforts being undertaken in the Normandy format and the Contact Group, Kyev invents more and more tricks to bog down the implementation of its obligations on implementing the Minsk Package of Measures of 12 February 2015, endorsed by the UN Security Council.
(bold italics added)
Until and unless the Western governments which have so far been supporting the Maidan government in Ukraine change their stance, and begin to insist that it implement the political and constitutional undertakings which it took on itself in Minsk in February 2015, the Ukrainian conflict will remain deadlocked.
In that case it will eventually be ‘solved’ not through diplomatic action in which the Western powers are involved, but through development of the situation on the ground.
The support some Western officials (including notably the US State Department and NATO secretary general Stoltenberg) have given to the Ukrainian proposal however shows that the Western powers continue to resist this logic.