Bloomberg View | 07Sep2017 | Editors,  W.Z.
Putin's Ukraine Peace
Offer Is a Trojan Horse
Russia wants UN
peacekeepers to keep its
latest "frozen conflict" from thawing.
See my response below.]
No, Vladimir Putin has not suddenly become a man of peace. His
recent overture in Ukraine should be seen for what it is -- an effort
to further his own interests -- and treated as such.
After the Russian president called for bringing United Nations
peacekeepers into the Ukraine conflict, Germany's foreign minister said
he was "very glad"
about the "surprising" development from a Kremlin that had previously
shunned calls for an international force. Nobody who knows Putin well
should be so gullible.
While the Ukrainian
government and its Western supporters have also called for
the UN to monitor the civil war in Eastern Ukraine, they have rightly
insisted that the peacekeepers monitor the border with Russia, where arms and
advisers pour in to aid the separatist rebels aiming to split
the nation further apart. Yet Putin wants the international force to
patrol only the unofficial dividing line between the breakaway regions
and the Ukrainian military. His goal, clearly, is to have the UN forces
establish a de facto independent state for the Russia-aligned forces.
This Ukraine strategy -- including the annexation of Crimea
through an illegal
referendum in 2014 -- is of a piece with Putin's long-term
goal of creating a series of "frozen
conflicts" around Russia's borders to serve as a buffer zone
between his nation and what he sees as a hostile West. Others involve
the breakaway Transnistria region in Moldova as well as Abkhazia and
South Ossetia in the Caucasus, which have been under the Kremlin's
thumb since the brief border war between Russia and Georgia in 2008.
The West should see Putin's latest offer in Ukraine for what
it is: a Trojan horse to solidify the pro-Russian rebels' hold on
Eastern Ukraine. If there are to be talks about UN peacekeepers, they
must begin with an understanding that they will patrol the
Ukraine-Russia border and interdict all military aid flowing to the
The U.S. and its allies should also consider measures that
might give Ukraine greater leverage in talks to restore its full
sovereignty, including shipping so-called lethal
defensive weapons such as Javelin anti-tank missiles. They
should also be straightforward with the Ukrainian government that it
will never unify the nation without a serious effort to eliminate
corruption and to punish those on the nationalist side who have
committed war crimes in the civil conflict.
Yes, the Ukraine conflict has cooled and slipped off the
headlines, but that's not really an improvement: It's exactly what
To contact the senior editor responsible for
editorials: David Shipley at [email protected]
Peacekeepers are required in Ukraine's Donbas
Dear David Shipley:
(via Email: [email protected] )
I was favorably impressed with the Bloomberg View article at https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-09-07/putin-s-ukraine-peace-offer-is-a-trojan-horse
dated 07Sep2017 and titled "Putin's Ukraine Peace Offer Is a Trojan
Horse". The article correctly identifies that Vladimir Putin's intention is
to create a frozen conflict similar to Transnistria, South Ossetia,
Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and wherever else Russian "peacekeepers" are
I maintain that fully armed peacemakers, not peacekeepers, should be
deployed in the Donbas under the sponsorship of the United Nations
and/or the European Union. These military units (from Germany, France,
Great Britain, Spain, etc. with their own tanks and armored vehicles)
would first of all be responsible for controlling the border crossings
and border between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Secondly, they
would patrol both sides of the present demarcation line between Ukraine
and the Russian-occupied Donbas. Thirdly, they would
identify/control/monitor the heavy armaments already stationed in
the region. Fourthly, they would eventually be expected to provide
backup to internally-generated (but internationally-approved) police
forces established to maintain law and order throughout the region.
this phase is implemented all parties concerned must recognize and
accept that the territorial integrity of Ukraine would be maintained
and eventually come under the full control of the Ukrainian government.
next phase of the operation is expected to be long and arduous. It
would entail re-establishing governmental and civic institutions and
services; the return of pro-Ukrainian media and
volunteer/civic/political organizations to establish dialogue with the
local inhabitants; rebuilding critical infrastructure destroyed during
the war (requiring massive international funding and investment); the
return of most of the 1.6 million internally displaced refugees; and a
myriad of other issues.
Needless to say, the Russian-led insurrection in the spring of 2014 and
the creation of the so-called Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics
(LPR and DPR) has been a sociological and economic disaster for the
region. But even before this Russian occupation, the Donbas had been in
economic decline, since many of its coal mines were becoming exhausted
and uneconomic. Furthermore, since Ukraine's independence in
1991, normal "legal" trade with the Russian Federation has been
drastically curtailed, which has resulted in the rise of organized
crime and corrupt oligarchs.
Since the assassination of Yevhen Shcherban on 03Nov1996, Donetsk-born Rinat Akhmetov
has become the richest oligarch in Ukraine. He appears to have direct
connections to Vladimir Putin, has tried to act as a mediator and has
provided humanitarian aid to the occupied region. Nevertheless, many of his business assets have been "nationalized"
by the LPR and DPR regimes. Mr. Akhmetov is likely to become directly
involved in the reconstruction of the Donbas and its re-integration
into the Ukrainian economy.
the past three years, the inhabitants of the Donbas have been fed a
constant stream of disinformation demonizing the Ukrainian government
and ethnic Ukrainians, in general. Any manifestation of pro-Ukrainian
sympathies results in physical violence, incarceration or worse. Such
"ethnic cleansing" has resulted in some 1.6 million internally displaced persons
must be noted that before the Russian occupation (and even
thereafter), opinion polls indicated that the majority of the
not support separatism and wished to remain within Ukraine. Obviously,
it will take several years after the IDPs return to their homes before the
sociological situation normalizes and political elections can be held.
the above paragraphs imply, organized crime and corruption were and
remain rampant in the Donbas region. (This also applies to the rest of
Ukraine and, indeed, to the rest of the world, as revealed by the Panama Papers
and the ongoing Mueller inquiry in the United States.) The resolution
of the conflict in the Donbas must address this problem. This would
require rigorous oversight by all the parties involved to insure that
all actions are transparent and legal.
Historically, Ukraine has
always been a battleground between the democratic countries to the West
and the authoritarian countries to the East. It is incredible that
despite its internationally recognized independence in 1991 and the
1994 Budapest Memorandum (guaranteeing its independence and territorial
integrity in exchange for giving up its nuclear arsenal), it is once
again threatened with dismemberment and destruction. A "wise"
resolution to the Donbas conflict could set a precedent for similar
conflicts throughout the world.
William Zuzak; 2017.09.14