September 5, 2017
‘These forces should be located on the demarcation line only and on no other territories.’
The following comments are an excerpt from a press conference for Russian journalists by Vladimir Putin in China following a meeting of ‘BRICS’ countries on September 5, 2017. The text of that press conference is published on the website of the President of Russia. —New Cold War.org
Question: I have a question about eastern Ukraine. Kiev has recently started promoting the idea of deploying UN peacekeepers there. Poroshenko speaks about this often, and there is even a plan according to which the idea should be taken to the UN General Assembly, which opens soon, if Russia blocks it at the Security Council. What do you think about this idea? Is it practicable, would it help?
Vladimir Putin: This is impossible to do via the General Assembly, because UN peacekeepers cannot function other than pursuant to Security Council resolutions. But that is not the point.
You are saying that someone wants to push something through. In fact, I do not see anything wrong with that. I have already said many times that I support the idea of arming the OSCE mission, but the OSCE itself refuses to arm its field personnel, since it has neither the relevant people nor the experience of such work.
In this context, I believe that the presence of UN peacekeepers, not even peacekeepers, but those who provide security for the OSCE mission, is quite appropriate and I do not see anything wrong with that; on the contrary, I believe that this would help resolve the situation in southeastern Ukraine. Of course, we can talk only about ensuring the security of the OSCE staff. This is my first point.
The second point is that, in this regard, these forces should be located on the demarcation line only and on no other territories.
Thirdly, this issue should be resolved only after disengaging the parties and removing the heavy equipment. This cannot be resolved without direct contact with representatives of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic and Lugansk People’s Republic.
I believe that if all this is done, it would definitely benefit resolving the situation in southeastern Ukraine. We will consider this as instructions to the Foreign Ministry to submit a relevant resolution to the Security Council.
Question: Continuing the theme of Ukraine. Recently, more reports have been coming from Washington regarding discussions to provide lethal weapons to Ukraine. How serious do you think this is? If, indeed, such a decision is made, what consequences might it have?
Vladimir Putin: It is the sovereign decision of the United States whom to sell arms to or whom to supply them to free of charge. They decide what countries will be recipients of such aid. We are unable to influence this process in any way. However, there are general international rules and approaches: the supply of weapons to a conflict zone is not conducive to peace, but only aggravates the situation.
If this happens in this situation, the action, or the decision, will not change the situation fundamentally. It will not affect the situation in any way for that matter. But the number of victims could, of course, increase. I want to underscore this to make it clear for everyone: nothing will change. The number of victims may increase, which is unfortunate.
There is one more thing that those who have such ideas should pay attention to: the self-proclaimed republics have enough weapons, including those seized from the opposing side, nationalist battalions, and so on.
If American weapons start coming to the conflict zone, it is difficult to say how the proclaimed republics would react to it. They may dispatch their weapons to other conflict zones that are sensitive to those who create problems for them.