A new report scheduled to be delivered to top United Nations officials this week claims that the world body should consider sending a peacekeeping force of 20,000 troops and 4,000 police to eastern Ukraine.
The report suggests that these forces come from non-NATO-member countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has, in the past, suggested a limited UN peacekeeping presence in the region; many in the West see that as an opportunity to negotiate a broader, larger UN presence in the war-torn region.
“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.
Some have suggested that the number of troops be raised to 50,000, but it’s not likely Russia would accept the presence of such a large force on its border.
“Senior officials from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France will discuss the conflict on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference,” British media reported.
“If you were able to get a significant presence on the ground reasonably quickly, you would want to move toward local elections within 12 months, and then keep peacekeepers there for a cooling-off period, say two years in total,” Gowan said. [source]
Analysis: Russia is never going to accept two things in Ukraine — a large foreign military force and a large foreign military force with teeth that could and would actually enforce a peace deal. Putin is believed to be playing a long game in eastern Ukraine; he isn’t interested in widening the war there (which would be costly to him financially and in terms of political capital in the form of increased Russian casualties), but rather he seeks to influence and/or dominate Ukraine socially and politically for years to come. Putin has laid the groundwork for this by reshuffling his forces by facing off against Ukraine and surrounding it. We know this because Russia is constructing and completing new bases near the Ukrainian border that are designed to house troops long-term, not mass them for an invasion.
Essentially, Putin’s objective in Ukraine is to keep NATO out. Allowing in a modest UN peacekeeping force will not endanger that objective and, in fact, serves Putin’s geopolitical objectives of appearing to ‘soften’ his stance towards Ukraine.