Reuters reported today on a ‘report’ to be presented to ‘officials’ Saturday at the Munich Security Conference. The article reads like the document is an official work of the United Nations or some other governmental body. However, as you read further, one notices the report was commissioned by President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, and written by an American academic at Colombia. Perhaps the title should have been changed to “Petro Poroshenko wants 20,000 peacekeepers in Donbass”.
“A report commissioned by former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen – now an adviser to Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko – will be presented to officials including the U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, Kurt Volker, at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday,” reported Reuters.
“The operation would need a mix of some European countries, such as Sweden, countries with a track record in peacekeeping, such as Brazil, and countries that have Russia’s trust, such as Belarus,” said Richard Gowan, author of the report and an expert on the United Nations at Columbia University.
“If you were able to get a significant presence on the ground reasonably quickly, you would want to move towards local elections within 12 months, and then keep peacekeepers there for a cooling-off period, say two years in total,” Gowan said.
The document seems to call for the force to facilitate local elections with military police as well.
There are other opinion pieces and information placed in the Western media on the Ukrainian situation which I find curious. One article by Taras Kuzio in The Hill laid out an argument why ‘Ukraine fatigue’ is misplaced in Washington. “We should not dismiss criticism of Ukraine’s progress, but it is important to also take into account the context in which reforms are being undertaken and the dangerous regional neighborhood.” ‘Ukraine has made progress in fighting corruption, and by the way, we’re fighting a war with Russia’ is the takeaway.
Another piece by the Ukrainian news agency discusses the need for more Western military aid.
All of these carefully placed pieces of propaganda belie the fact that the war will only be solved when Russia wants it to be. Thousands of peacekeepers will not bludgeon Moscow into accepting a deal and implementing the Minsk accords. This is a conflict on Moscow’s border with a former satellite state that Russia sees as within its sphere of influence.
The only way forward for Ukraine is to clean up its internal act and finally pull the plug on corruption and oligarch control of the country. Only then will the population see the benefit of moving away from the Russian system and towards the rule of law. Reduced corruption would also allow for faster economic growth. So far, Ukraine has refused to do this.
There has been disagreement between Moscow and European leaders over the peacekeeper issue. Merkel and Macron support a large force that deploys all the way to Russia’s border to monitor weapons shipments and other supplies entering Donbass from Russia. Russian President Putin has suggested a much smaller force deployed only along the forward line of troops.
The secret to ending the conflict is to making the war no longer profitable for Moscow in a geopolitical sense. Right now, it is merely a civil war, supported by larger powers on each side. If Ukraine were to end corruption and put the nation on the way to enforcing the rule of law, the whole region would benefit and perhaps the residents of Donbass could see the difference between the two systems. However, to this point, this outcome is not in sight.