Russia today warned NATO against the possible deployment of peacekeeping forces in Ukraine, predicting that it would provoke military confrontations between troops from Russia and the Atlantic Alliance.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, warned of the consequences of this hypothetical deployment that comes from the proposal of Poland, one of the main allies of Kyiv and the destination of millions of refugees from the neighbouring country.
The Polish Peacekeeping proposal
On Tuesday, Polish government spokesman Piotr Müller in an interview with Polsat News announced that Poland would raise the topic of a possible NATO deployment of a peacekeeping mission to Ukraine, as proposed by Jarosław Kaczyński, the leader of the Law and Justice party, during NATO and E.U. summits.
As per the Poles, the peacekeeping mission will involve a contingent of a dozen or several dozen countries that would enter the territory of Ukraine, with the consent of the Ukrainian authorities, in places where humanitarian corridors need to be secured, where there are no Russian troops yet. “This would definitely cool down the offensive mood on the part of Russia, the spokesman assessed,” he said.
“If there was an international peace mission, we are ready to send such forces, together with other countries in the world, to the territory of Ukraine,” said Müller.
“If we do not block Russia’s actions, Russia will come to us… this is a conflict that may come into our territory,” he warned.
On 18th March, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had said the proposal for a peace mission in Ukraine would be formally submitted. Mariusz Błaszczak, the Polish Defense Minister, had earlier had spoken about this proposal at a meeting with the defense ministers of the North Atlantic Pact.
The idea has the support of Denmark. “The Danish government is ready to send troops to Ukraine as part of a peacekeeping mission if it can contribute to ending this bloody war.” “We have decades of experience in such work, and I definitely believe that Denmark can contribute to it and make a difference,” said Denmark’s Defense Minister Morten Bodskov.
Hungary is not for the proposal. After consultations via video link with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said on 21st March: “Dangerous proposals lie on the NATO table.”
Poland has public support for the proposal
More than half of Poles supported sending a NATO, U.N. or other organization peace mission to Ukraine. According to the United Survey dla RMF FM and Dziennika Gazety Prawnej, a reputed pollster in the country, most support Polish soldiers to take part in the mission. In response to sending Polish soldiers for peacekeeping in Ukraine, 34.2 per cent of respondents replied that “definitely yes”, and 25 per cent said, “maybe yes”. Only 16 per cent opposed the move.
How do Russians perceive the proposal?
As per Russian media, Poland intends to send troops to Western Ukraine to divide the country into two parts. Russian experts argue that Poland, under the guise of a peacekeeping mission, wants to regain “primordially Polish lands”, i.e. occupy four regions of Western Ukraine. As per the experts, the Polish General Staff is carrying out covert mobilization and staffing of the 18th mechanized division to wartime state.
The experts say that the project proposed by the military does not suit the Polish authorities, and there are serious disagreements between the government and the military. President Duda does not want to permit to use of Polish troops until he receives U.S. approval for the operation. POTUS Biden is visiting Europe and will attend an extraordinary NATO summit in Brussels. So far, the Americans have refused their participation in any direct involvement on the territory of Ukraine. At the same time, the U.S. does not prohibit others from doing so.
On 20th March, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the U.S. would not send its troops to Ukraine, but any NATO countries could on their initiative. She said Washington would support their decision.
“I do not rule out that when they talk about peacekeepers, they probably mean their borders – the west of Ukraine. Maybe they want to bring in peacekeepers, make headquarters in Lviv, then stay there. They had such thoughts hovering and not only thoughts – this happened in the past,” said Lavrov.
Poland’s occupation of Western Ukraine
In recent history, Western Ukraine was part of Poland from 1921 to 1939. Poland treated Ukrainians as second class citizens leading to the rise of Underground nationalist organizations in Ukraine which had fought Poland. Later, Ukraine came under the jurisdiction of the USSR.