Commenting on the differences between Russia and the West’s approaches to the peacekeeping mission, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a press conference on Wednesday that no UN peacekeeping mission will be sent to the Donbas in the form that Ukraine wants to see.
“When the OSCE observers’ mission began to experience safety problems – there were incidents, one mission member was killed – in response to the alarm from Germany and France, we proposed to arm the observers with light firearms, but the OSCE refused,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry cites Lavrov as saying.
The foreign minister noted that the Kremlin then proposed the idea of a protective mission, with armed UN security troops to accompany the OSCE observers, but this proposal was not supported either.
According to Lavrov, his western colleagues put forward “rules” which were supposedly invented by US Special Representative for Ukraine Kurt Volker.
“These ‘rules’ were not to facilitate direct dialog between Kyiv and the militia as envisaged by Minsk 2, but rather to bring a 30,000-strong UN military contingent to the Donbas with heavy weaponry and to take control of the entire perimeter of the Donbas territory we are talking about, and then to disband the local militia, police, the local administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk, and to send police and an administration from the UN there, who would deal with everything there. In this option, no elections would need to be held, and simply, instead of consensus and compromises between the Donbas and Kyiv, unilateral decisions would be enforced,” Lavrov remarked.
The Russian diplomat believes that a peaceful solution must start with direct negotiations between Ukraine and the occupation administrations in Donetsk and Luhansk.
“I think that everyone understands us, but again they want to pretend that the only way to deal with the Ukrainian crisis is to do the current government’s bidding and force the Donbas to surrender. This is unrealistic,” Lavrov concluded.
The format of the UN peacekeeping mission is a point of contention between Ukraine and Russia, which backs the militants.
Ukraine wants a full-scale mission, which would take control of the entire territory, including the state border, whereas Russia proposes only a “protective mission” to provide security for the OSCE observers along the demarcation line.