Row over UN peacekeeping deployment in eastern Ukraine escalates

DAILY SABAH
Istanbul
Published 23.02.2019 13:18

Tensions between Moscow and Kiev have further escalated this week over the possible deployment of U.N. peacekeeping forces in the eastern Ukraine. After the Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko's call for a multinational peacekeeping operation under a U.N. mandate in the region at the U.N. general assembly, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov slammed Poroshenko's proposal, saying that it would mean "the occupation of Donbass."

"And now President Poroshenko declares that the only way to solve the Donbass quagmire is to introduce U.N. armed forces there, along the entire perimeter, even on the border with Russia, essentially to occupy it," Lavrov said, while recalling the Minsk accords "that the border with Russia will be under the jurisdiction of the Ukrainian leadership only at the very end, when the region receives its special status, when elections are held there and when all this is fulfilled," as reported by TASS news agency.

The February 2015 Minsk Agreements, agreed by the leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany, set out the necessary steps to stop violence against civilians in eastern Ukraine, however, the U.N. warned last week that the agreements have remained "largely unimplemented." Under the agreement, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) special mission to Ukraine has taken up the tasks in its activities of ceasefire monitoring and border monitoring.

Assistant Secretary-General Miroslav Jenca told the U.N. Security Council that negotiations "appear to have lost momentum," with Russia and Ukraine "either unable and, or unwilling to reach an agreement on the key steps forward or being distracted from focusing on the implementation of agreed steps." "The conflict in Ukraine is first and foremost tragically affecting the Ukrainian people," he said, but it also "continues to test the credibility of international and regional organizations."

The mediating efforts between European countries, Ukraine and Russia have led to no significant improvement in ending the years-long pro-Russian separatist rebellion in eastern Ukraine. The peace talks could not produce a breakthrough over issues relating to the settlement of the Ukraine crisis. The gap between the parties is still too wide to reconcile, therefore conflicting interests at the heart of the Ukrainian crisis are preventing a sustainable settlement between Kiev and the eastern Ukrainian separatists.

Despite numerous reconciliation attempts to settle the conflict, the crisis continues to claim more civilian lives as they suffer under deteriorating humanitarian conditions, which also reveals the ineffectiveness of a series of international agreements to restore peace. According to the U.N., more than 3,300 civilians have been killed and up to 9,000 injured since the conflict began in 2014, with many of the 3.5 million civilians needing humanitarian assistance and protection services in 2019.

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