Even If the Decision on Peacekeepers Is Approved, Ukraine Still Has a Year on the Defensive Ahead of It

October 02, 2017

Talking about the mandate of the potential peacekeeping mission in Donbas, we need to remember that Putin has tried to outpace us. He did not manage to do it, but there was an attempt. From the standpoint of Ukraine, the ultimate goal of this mission is to return to the pre-conflict situation and have all losses compensated for, at the very least. So a compromise between Putin's option and the Ukrainian one will not do. Ukraine will not agree to this, as for the current political elite it will mean loss of power and a rise of protest movements, with all the consequences that come with those.

We understand our goals: to restore territorial integrity, sovereignty, eliminate the underlying causes of contradictions, establish stable peace. A lot of tasks must be accomplished in order to achieve this. These are not just military tasks: ceasefire, disengagement of troops, withdrawal of weapons and gangs led by Moscow. There are a lot of other tasks to restore peaceful life in Donbas. First, talking about elections, it is hard and counterproductive to conduct elections in the midst of the war or right after it. People with post-conflict trauma can be easily manipulated: a promise of some buckwheat or hot water will make them vote for the necessary candidate. Second, it is necessary to conduct disarming, demobilisation, and reintegration of combatants. This is a standard practice, without which crime rate cannot be brought down to a more or less acceptable level. Third, demining must be performed. Fourth, the problem of the displaced people must be resolved. For example, will they take part in the elections and through what mechanism? If yes, then we need to solve the issue of restoring and protecting their property rights. And who will protect them? Which courts will be solving disputed matters? Will they be protected by those, who took them away in the first place, or should this be another task for the mission, taking into account that there is no Ukrainian government there yet? Fifth, we need to restore at least minimal economic activity in Donbas. Here, for example, we could use the experience of province restoring groups that worked in the framework of Afghanistan peacekeeping mission. This must be done too. It would be better to do this with involvement of western investors, so that they could see Donbas not just as a conflict zone that requires a never-ending flow of subsidies, but as an area with growth potential. Thus, we need to look for unconventional approaches. Protection by a peacekeeping mission is sort of a guarantee. Then, after all of this, it will be time to talk about elections.

Overall, preparing the introduction of a peacekeeping mission is not a fast process. Integrated planning of a mission consists of three stages: prior planning (area of technical mission, concept development with mission introduction and extraction conditions); operational planning (determining the mandate, consultations and distribution of tasks among participants, determining resource requirements); ongoing planning and management (determining mission's command that starts the immediate planning and adjustment of mission's tasks). First two stages take not less than a year. So even if the decision is made on mission deployment, we still have a year on the defensive ahead of us.

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Mykola Sunhurovskyi

Director, Military Programmes

Born in 1951 in Moscow.


Orenburg Higher Military Air Defence Forces School (1972);

Kyiv Air Defence Forces Academy (1982);

Higher School of Entrepreneurship, Kyiv Institute of National Economy (1991).

Ph. D. in Technical Sciences, Senior Research Fellow, the author of more than 90 publications.

Colonel (Ret.) with 31 years of military service, half of that term — at research institutions. Research profile — systems analysis, strategic planning, analysis methods, national security.


Most recent position in state bodies — Department Chief at the Analytical Service of Ukraine's NSDC Staff;

Since December 1999 — Razumkov Centre Programme Co-ordinator;

Since February 2000 — Freelance Consultant to the National Security and Defence Committee of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

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