Ukraine president calls for UN peacekeepers for Eastern provinces
As pro-Russian militias occupy more government buildings in more cities, Ukraine's acting President Oleksandr Turchynov, has called for UN peacekeepers to patrol the region. Turchynov raised the issue in a telephone call to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon.
Vowing to “fight back [against] terrorism and Russian aggression,” Turchynov raised the prospect of conducting a “joint operation with the U.N. peacekeeping forces” so that the world could “witness the legality” of Ukrainian forces’ actions.
“We do not object and even welcome holding of joint counterterrorist operation in the East,” Turchynov said, according to the statement. It said Ban pledged to “do everything I can for the situation to be resolved peacefully as soon as possible.”
Given that any such move by the United Nations would require Russian approval in the Security Council, where Moscow holds a veto, the idea of sending peacekeeping troops to Ukraine would seem to be a non-starter.
Turchynov’s appeal came amid mounting accusations, not only in Kiev but in Washington and London, that Russia has instigated and coordinated a spate of armed building takeovers by men in unmarked uniforms that began Saturday. Reuters news agency reported Monday that separatists in the city of Slavyansk have appealed openly to Russia for help on behalf of the “Donetsk People’s Republic.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin is viewing developments in Ukraine “with great concern,” his press secretary, Dmitri Peskov, told reporters Monday.
“Many appeals — addressed personally to Putin, asking to help in this or that way and asking to intervene in this or that way — have been received,” Peskov said.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied Monday that Russia has any agents in eastern Ukraine, and he said it is the West’s responsibility to restrain the government in Kiev.
“We do not interfere in the internal affairs of Ukraine; it is contrary to our interests,” Lavrov said at a news conference.
The idea that Ukraine should refrain from trying to restore order when armed men take control of government buildings is laughable. And there is little doubt that Putin has a hand in these disturbances, although whether he actually controls the militias directly is open to question. The crisis is unfolding exactly as if Putin had planned it, however, as calls for Russian intervention on the part of the pro-Russian rebels might be used as a pretext by the Kremlin to start the tanks rolling into Ukraine.
Turchynov's call for peacekeepers is also a bit of theater. Knowing the proposal won't get anywhere at the UN, it might presage the kind of crackdown that could trigger a Russian response. Turchynov may want to show that he's tried to avoid a crackdown by asking for peacekeepers - just in case he asks for help from the west.
It won't be forthcoming if Russia invades. It's not even clear that referndums in provinces with majority Russian speakers would satisfy Putin. He may want Russian troops on the ground before the vote - just like in Crimea.
If there is going to be a serious crackdown by the Kiev government. it will come in the next 48 hours.