Russia’s proposed deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in eastern Ukraine makes sense in the light of recent reports that the US is stepping up its supply of lethal weaponry to the Kiev regime. The war is set to explode.
It is therefore prudent to deploy international monitors to try to restrain the violence, or at least offset the undoubted propaganda war which will ensue. The move to involve the UN is also a damning reflection of how ineffective the already-in-place monitors from the OSCE have been.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has stationed hundreds of international members in eastern Ukraine since March 2014, yet the OSCE has done little to restrain the offensive actions by the Kiev-controlled Ukrainian Armed Forces against the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The lack of restraint stems from the OSCE being evidently biased towards the Kiev regime and its reluctance to issue public criticism of Kiev’s daily violations of the Minsk Accord. In other words, despite claims of impartiality, the OSCE serves as a propaganda tool for the US-backed regime.
Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that increased American military support to the Kiev regime will result in an escalation of violence. When US defense secretary James Mattis was in Kiev last month, he said Washington was «considering» sending lethal weapons to the regime’s forces. As part of the public relations exercise, Mattis called the weapons «defensive» lethal weapons. Those «defensive» arms include Javelin anti-tank missiles.
Reliable reports say that lethal US weaponry has already begun arriving, including grenade launchers and the high-powered Barrett M-82 sniper rifles with a range of 1.8 kilometers. According to sources in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), the American military supplies are being delivered through private US firms, which obscures Washington’s official involvement.
Over the past week, DPR military chief Eduard Basurin has cited as many as 200 violations of the ceasefire supposedly in place under the 2015 Minsk Accord. Those violations were carried with heavy artillery and mortars, hitting 25 locations in the Donetsk province. The DPR also claims that Kiev forces are moving up heavy weapons, including Howitzers, to the Contact Line, in another breach of Minsk.
Meanwhile, a check on the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission’s latest reporting on the ground indicates «fewer ceasefire violations». Typical of the OSCE reporting, those violations that are noted are worded in vague fashion in such a way that it is not clear which party is committing the attacks. The OSCE reports cite explosions and artillery fire, but rarely assign blame or details that might allow readers to ascertain who is firing at who. The lack of details strongly suggests a deliberate effort by the OSCE authorities to obfuscate. Yet, it claims to be a frontline source for journalists to file reports on what is happening in Ukraine. No wonder Western media in particular are so vacant about the conflict, if this is their source.
Given the Pentagon’s move to openly step up lethal weapons to the Kiev regime, the implications for worsening violence in eastern Ukraine are ominous. Kiev’s forces, which include Neo-Nazi battalions, have been waging an «Anti-Terror Operation» (ATO) on the ethnic Russian population of Donetsk and Luhansk since April 2014. Up to 10,000 have died in the conflict. The ATO was originally launched at the same time that then CIA chief John Brennan visited the Kiev regime – two months after the CIA backed the coup that brought the regime to power.
The violence has continued despite the signing by Kiev and the separatists of the two-year-old Minsk Accord – brokered by Russia, France and Germany. The Kiev regime headed up by President Petro Poroshenko claims that the separatists are «terrorists» supported by Russian «aggression». The separatists view the Kiev regime as illegitimate having violently and illegally seized power from an elected government in February 2014.
Washington backs the illogical position of Kiev and its evident repudiation of the Minsk Accord in spite of its signature. Yet, perversely, the US imposes sanctions on Russia for allegedly not implementing the Minsk deal.
This week, Germany’s Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel gave his support to the proposal announced by Vladimir Putin for a UN peacekeeping force. The Donetsk and Luhansk separatists have also voiced their support for the initiative. Russia is putting the matter before the United Nations Security Council. But it is not clear if the US will scupper the proposal.
The Kiev regime and US government-owned Radio Free Europe quickly poured scorn on Russia’s proposal. Cynically, it is claimed that the deployment of UN peacekeepers on the Contact Line would bolster the separatists’ territorial claims. Instead, Kiev wants UN troops to be deployed all across the breakaway republics and on the border with Russia.
But this is the point. The Kiev regime cannot be trusted to uphold any ceasefire agreement or commitments to recognize autonomy in Donetsk and Luhansk, as it is obligated to do under Minsk. Having UN blue helmets stationed all over the breakaway republics would most likely give Kiev a cover to infiltrate its forces. Just a quick indicator of bad faith was the routine breaching of the so-called «schools truce» called on August 25 by Poroshenko. That truce was called at the same time that Pentagon chief James Mattis was visiting Kiev, suggesting it was a public relations stunt to ease the announced supply of «defensive» lethal weapons by Washington.
Thus, the Russian proposal for UN monitors at the interface between Kiev troops and the separatists is a reasonable move. It may not be effective in stemming the violence especially in light of US stepping up weapons supplies. But, at least, it is worth giving a chance. The other potentially positive effect is that the UN peacekeepers might be able to account more accurately on which side is stoking the violence. This is all the more important since the OSCE has shown itself to be totally ineffectual, or worse, complicit in giving the Kiev regime a cover for its depredations.
The OSCE comprises 57 participating nations, including the US, Russia and European states. But its membership is dominated by 29 countries belonging to the US-led NATO military alliance. Russia has long complained that the OSCE needs reforming to allow for more balanced representation.
In his 2007 landmark speech to the Munich Security Conference, Putin warned, among many global issues, that Washington and its NATO allies were «trying to transform the OSCE into a vulgar instrument to promote Western foreign policy interests».
Like many other multilateral institutions, including the UN, the European Union and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the OSCE has demonstrated a subservience to Washington’s geopolitical dominance.
This is clearly the case in Ukraine. The OSCE has never issued an unequivocal condemnation of Kiev forces, even though the latter have carried out countless violations and are the main obstacle to implementing a peaceful settlement.
In a must-read revealing interview, one former American member of the OSCE said that the organization routinely distorts the nature of the conflict in Ukraine and is «highly biased in favor of the Kiev regime». He said that field reports from rank-and-file OSCE officers were often suppressed by their superiors based in Kiev.
Alexander Hug, the ex-Swiss army chief of the OSCE operation in Ukraine, has in the past written opinion articles for the Kyiv Post, a news outlet that is stridently pro-regime and openly anti-Russian. In one of Hug’s articles, it bore the tagline «Russia’s war against Ukraine». Ironically, the OSCE chief introduced that article with the words: «The first casualty of war is the truth». For the OSCE chief to show such flagrant bias is contemptible and brings the so-called monitor into disrepute.
All the signs indicate that the war in Ukraine is set to escalate – especially given the increased supply of American weaponry to Kiev regime forces. Washington is acting recklessly. It is tacitly declaring war in Ukraine, with grave implications for US-Russia relations.
The deployment of UN peacekeepers to the conflict zone may not be sufficient to prevent the US-backed regime going on the offensive. But at least the presence of more international monitors might allow for more critical information on which side is pushing the violence.
Certainly, the OSCE monitors already in place are totally unreliable despite their claims of impartiality. Indeed, the OSCE as presently formulated and deployed is part of the problem for why a peaceful settlement in Ukraine is continually confounded.
Russia’s proposal for UN peacekeepers is being viewed cynically in the West as a hollow gesture. Such Western views are contorted and laced with their usual Russophobia instead of being objective.
The Russian proposal is simply because the OSCE is hopelessly derelict in its duties, and needs to be sidelined by some other more effective monitoring mechanism. The war-footing of the US-backed Kiev regime amid OSCE silence is testament to its dereliction.