Article by: Vitaly Portnikov
Vladimir Putin is not interested in having UN peacekeepers in the Donbas but in preventing Ukrainian proposals on the deployment of peacekeepers from becoming a topic of international discussion.
The Russian mission at the UN delivered Moscow’s proposal on the introduction of peacekeepers into the conflict zone in the Donbas to the UN General Secretary.
This demonstrated once again that the statement of Russian President Vladimir Putin was not spontaneous and that Moscow had carefully prepared another propaganda campaign designed to demonstrate its interest in resolving the situation.
But I would not place too much hope in a change in Putin’s approach to events in the Donbas, nor would I support his initiative, as the German Minister for Foreign Affairs Sigmar Gabriel has already done. A careful analysis of Putin’s statement suggests that the Russian president is not interested in having UN peacekeepers appear in the zone of conflict but rather in preventing Ukrainian proposals on the deployment of peacekeepers from becoming an important topic for international discussion.
Putin says that peacekeepers in the Donbas may be deployed only after a ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons. This is the first point of the Minsk agreements.
This is a point Moscow could have implemented many times already, but for some reason is in no hurry to do so. It is in no hurry because the Kremlin is perfectly aware that the cessation of the bombardment of Ukraine would greatly limit the opportunities to destabilize the situation in our country. And this is clearly not in Russia’s interests.
Putin wants the peacekeepers to appear exclusively on the line of demarcation of the occupied territories. Simply put, this would mean transferring the Russian border. The point of having peacekeepers is precisely that they would be able to control the part of the border between Russia Ukraine that is now under Moscow’s control.
This is the beginning of the transitional period for the return of Ukraine’s control. But Putin’s proposals do not even have the beginning of such a period in mind. He wants to secure the freedom to act in the Donbas for himself. And, at the same time, to be protected by the decision of the UN Security Council.
And, finally, what is most important is what Putin said at the very end. It is that the deployment of the UN peacekeeping contingent is possible only under conditions of direct contact with the leadership of the “people’s republics.” This is what the Russian ruler has been trying to impose on Ukraine literally from the first days of the war in the Donbas — the acknowledgement that the Russian puppets who were made leaders of the “people’s republics” in Donetsk and Luhansk really represent someone other than the invaders.
He wants to prove to the international community that there is no occupation in the Donbas but an “uprising,” a “civil war.” It is clear that discussions with Zakharchenko and Plotnytsky (heads of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics” — Ed.) about the possibility of deploying UN peacekeepers into “their” territory is a surefire step toward legitimizing the “people’s republics.” And, perhaps, it is precisely for this reasons that Putin began to talk about peacekeepers.