Russia suggests sending an armed UN mission to defend OSCE observers in East Ukraine for an initial term of six months, according to a Russian draft Security Council resolution obtained by TASS.
In line with the document, the proposed UN mission to assist the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) will be established "for a period of six months, following the complete disengagement of forces and equipment from the de facto line of contact, a United Nations Support Mission to Protect OSCE SMM in Southeast Ukraine, the head of which shall report directly to [UN] Secretary-General" Antonio Guterres.
The draft says that the mission will be "equipped with small arms and light weapons mandated exclusively to ensure the security of the OSCE SMM observer groups exercising 24-hour monitoring in zones where forces and equipment have been disengaged from the de facto line of contact between territory under the control of the armed forces of Ukraine and territory of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine."
Secretary General’s recommendations
If the document is approved, the UN Secretary General will be requested "to start preparatory work without delay and to present as soon as possible to the Security Council for its consideration and approval detailed recommendations with regard to the size and national composition" of the mission, along with its powers.
Those recommendations should be agreed "with the Government of Ukraine and representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine."
The resolution expresses full respect to sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukrane and stresses that the conflict in the east of the country can be settled only through implementation of the February 12, 2015 Package of Measures to fulfill the September 2014 Minsk agreements. In this respect, Russia suggested that the UN Security Council members called for full and consistent fulfillment of the Minsk Agreement and other reconciliation accords.
The draft resolution was put forward on September 5, and, according to an informed UN source, it has already been discussed in two rounds of consultations. The talks, however, produced no tangible result.
Ukraine’s envoy to the UN, Vladimir Yelchenko, earlier said that Kiev would agree an international peacekeeping mission only if its deployment will begin on the Russian-Ukrainian border, not the line of contact, separating the government-controlled areas and the self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. Eventually, the Ukrainian side has de-facto withdrawn from discussions on the issue.
The Kremlin press service said on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone conversation with German Chancellor Angela Merkel "expressed readiness to complement the functions of the UN mission described in the Russian draft of the proposed UN Security Council’s resolution." According to the press service, the UN mission will be responsible for guarding the OSCE monitors performing its functions not only along the line of disengagement, but at their inspections at other places. According to TASS sources, the initial draft was already amended to include this provision.