Former prime minister of Denmark, Rasmussen Global CEO, and Ukrainian presidential adviser Anders Fogh Rasmussen believes that without UN peacekeepers in Donbas, it will be practically impossible to achieve the implementation of the Minsk agreements. He sees the mission as having a "robust mandate" consisting of a contingent of up to 10,000 people, working on the entire territory not controlled by Kyiv, capable of protecting people and infrastructure in the region.
"We could achieve peace in this case," the politician said on Tuesday, speaking at the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum organized by the German Koerber Foundation.
Rasmussen said in a blitz interview with Ukrinform in more detail about the vision of the future UN peacekeeping force in Donbas.
Q: Mr. Rasmussen, is it possible, in your opinion, to do without UN peacekeepers in the current situation?
A: I see the best possibility to reach first stability, then a ceasefire and then peace, because if you don't have international peacekeepers to monitor and control then it's impossible.
I saw it with my own eyes when I visited the contact line that there are daily shellings. And the OSCE report demonstrates exactly the same.
So you have to deploy a robust peacekeeping mission to ensure that you can have peace.
Q: But is it possible in principle to reach consensus in such completely different approaches to the very concept of the mission of Russia, on the one hand, and of Ukraine and the western partners, on the other hand?
A: I know. But Putin took a step. Putin took one step. But of course as it has been presented it has no goal. Because his proposal would just give us a UN mandate to frozen conflict in the east, and we don't want that. It is no frozen conflict by far, 10,000 people have been killed, there are daily shellings.
But just instead of just dismissing it I think we should build on it and improve it by getting a robust mandate. And I think the most important point would be to give the peacekeepers the right to control the international border between Ukraine and Russia. Because that way you could stop the influx of troops and materials, military equipment and you could monitor that they actually sent equipment back to Russia.
Q: The Ukrainian side insists that there should be no Russians in the future mission. How do you see this?
A: In that case I think neither Russia nor Ukraine could contribute to such a mission. This is a normal standard for peacekeeping missions that the parties involved in the conflict do not contribute.
But, of course, it would require the consent of the Ukrainian government, because it's a Ukrainian territory. But I think if it has a robust mandate we can count on the consent of the Ukrainian government.
If the mandate is robust, if the purpose is clear, namely to fully implement the Minsk Agreement, I think European countries could and should contribute. Maybe Russia wouldn't appreciate if NATO countries contributed, then other European countries could contribute. I don't think that would be a problem. I would accept that the bulk of those peacekeeping troops comes from non-NATO countries.
Q: Don't you think that President Putin, unexpectedly putting forward such an "initiative," did it intentionally, not for the sake of ending the war?
A: Yes, it might be a trap. And that's why we have to be very careful in dealing with his proposal. It could be a Trojan Horse.
But instead of just dismissing it I think we should try to improve it.
At the conference, Rasmussen also spoke about the importance of supporting transatlantic unity between the United States and Europe, as well as strengthening sanctions against Russia if it did not take steps to fully implement the Minsk agreements. He also said that the West should help strengthen Ukraine by making it more capable of protecting itself and repel aggression, including by providing defensing systems (communication systems, thermal imagers, etc.). Making Ukraine a prosperous democracy and a market economy, the West will make Russia understand that constructive cooperation is better than confrontation. "The road to the normalization of relations goes through Kyiv," the politician said.