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Peacekeepers Wont Bring Peace

Published: August 13, 2014 (Issue # 1824)


Ofcourse, theres not going tobe awar. But there will be such astruggle forpeace that it will leave nothing but rubble. This Soviet-era quip comes tomind when observing Russias feverish calls forpeacekeeping actions inUkraine inrecent days.

Last week, TheUN Security Council held anemergency meeting inNew York atRussias request. There, Russian representative Vitaly Churkin spared no effort indescribing thehumanitarian catastrophe insoutheastern Ukraine.

Besides thenearly 1,500 deaths, several hundred thousand refugees including children andthe elderly have been left tothe mercy offate. This requires immediate intervention fromthe global community, Churkin said. Kiev, atleast according toMoscow, has failed toprovide safe passage fornon-combatants, andso Russia should step into lead convoys ofhumanitarian aid forthose trapped inthe conflict zone.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu recently visited the15th Motorized Rifle Brigade, amilitary unit specifically created forpeacekeeping operations. He praised thesoldiers training, andnoted significantly: The world has changed drastically. As you know frompast incidents, including theexperience ofthis brigade, peacekeeping units can be called upon unexpectedly.

Atpractically thesame time, troubling announcements came out ofvarious Western nations. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said he had information that therisk ofa military intervention byRussia inUkraine had risen sharply. NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said ina statement that Russia had amassed about 20,000 troops onits border with Ukraine andcould use thepretext ofhumanitarian aid or apeacekeeping mission tosend them intoits neighbors territory.

Kiev, however, has been ignoring this ploy andcontinuing military actions, regardless oflosses. Although its highly unlikely that Ukraine will achieve asmooth military victory, theseparatists have nothing good tolook forward toin thecoming weeks.

Thelikely chaos ofthe next few weeks could, though, provide thepretext needed forRussia tosend introops under theguise ofprotecting humanitarian convoys. Military accompaniment fora convoy will force Ukrainian troops intoa temporary cease-fire, giving themilitants abreather.

But who exactly is Moscow trying tofool, calling aRussian invasion peacekeeping?

Formilitary action tobe considered peacekeeping, it must meet aminimum oftwo requirements.

First, both opposing sides must agree toa cease-fire andthe arrival ofa peacekeeping force. Inthis situation, anagreement fromKiev can be easily ruled out as impossible. Second, thepeacekeeping operation should have amandate froman international organization (preferably theUN). Keeping inmind that even allies like Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko disapprove ofRussias Ukraine policy, it seems highly unlikely that Moscow will receive such amandate even from, say, theCIS.

So theonly groups calling aRussian military intrusion apeacekeeping operation will be thecountrys own Foreign Ministry andtelevision anchors. Why go through all this song anddance, then?

If such aplan really exists, then theonly explanation is that all these games are meant toconvince theRussian public ofthe necessity ofintervening. Ofcourse, they are ready togive their all forOur Crimea andNovorossia. But surveys show that Russians are emphatically against amilitary conflict; they dont want to invade Ukraine. But perhaps theKremlin believes that they would support anintervention if it were called peacekeeping.

Alexander Golts is deputy editor ofthe online newspaper Yezhednevny Zhurnal.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Jan. 30 through Wednesday, Feb. 4



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of Repulsion at 7 p.m. and Rosemarys Baby at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy The Tenant, the cult comedy The Fearless Vampire Killers and Cul-de-sac among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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