War­keep­ing

Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

Al­most three years ago, on Sept. 12, 2014, the U.K. news­pa­per The Guardian pub­lished a photo and re­port fea­tur­ing a Rus­sian ar­mored per­son­nel car­rier well in­side Ukraine, in Lu­tuhyne, near the city of Luhansk.

In­ter­est­ingly, the ve­hi­cle was marked with a blue cir­cle around yel­low Cyril­lic let­ters “MC” — the Rus­sian ab­bre­vi­a­tion for “Mirotvorch­eskie Sily” or “Peace­keep­ing Forces.”

Such ve­hi­cles had ear­lier been spot­ted in Rus­sia, in Au­gust, head­ing to­wards or sta­tioned near the Ukrainian bor­der. At the time, it was widely feared that a Rus­sian in­va­sion was im­mi­nent, and that Rus­sia would seize the Don­bas, and per­haps more of Ukraine, un­der the guise of in­sert­ing a peace­keep­ing force.

In the end, the Krem­lin con­tented it­self with cross-bor­der shelling and covert de­ploy­ment of reg­u­lar units to halt Ukraine’s ad­vance against Rus­sian proxy forces, thereby pre­vent­ing the col­lapse of the two rogue statelets it had set up in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

De­feated on the bat­tle­field, Ukraine was forced to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble in Minsk, Be­larus, and the war set­tled into the lower-in­ten­sity con­flict that it is to­day.

Ukraine has called sev­eral times for a United Na­tions-man­dated peace­keep­ing mis­sion to be sent to the Don­bas, but Rus­sia has never agreed. Then Rus­sian dic­ta­tor Vladimir Putin on Sept. 5 came up with his own pro­pos­als for a peace­keep­ing force in Ukraine. How­ever, Putin’s plan is not a peace­keep­ing of­fer -- it’s a way to keep the war sim­mer­ing.

The Rus­sian pres­i­dent wants UN troops to pa­trol the front line be­tween Ukraine’s army and the Krem­lin’s proxy forces, pro­vid­ing cover for the un­armed Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Se­cu­rity and Co­op­er­a­tion in Europe mon­i­tors. The part of the Ukrainian-Rus­sian bor­der that is not un­der the con­trol of Kyiv would re­main wide open for Rus­sia to con­tinue send­ing weapons, am­mu­ni­tion, sup­plies and men to keep the war go­ing.

That is war­keep­ing, to coin a word, and typ­i­cal of Krem­lin cyn­i­cism. Ukraine and most in the West un­der­stand this and will op­pose Putin’s plan. Al­most in the same breath as voic­ing his sup­port for peace­keep­ers, Putin sug­gested that his proxy forces might go on the of­fen­sive again if the United States sup­plies Ukraine with lethal de­fen­sive weapons.

Putin’s real in­ten­tions are clear: He wants to keep the war go­ing on his terms.

A better plan would be to de­ploy peace­keep­ers through­out the Rus­sian-oc­cu­pied area. Only then will there be a chance of real peace re­turn­ing to the Don­bas.

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