Many have come to perceive Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine as a gangrene threatening democracies worldwide. It began with Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 and continues today with military aggression in the Eastern front of Donbass.
The trend which frequents Russian foreign policy lends itself to patterns of deliberate campaigns aimed at weakening others’ democracies — infecting them with internal conflict, propaganda and separatism.
As we contemplate ways of curing Russia’s separatist infection, particularly in the Eastern front of the Donbass region, the first requirement is the immediate introduction of a robust, U.N.-mandated International Provisional Administration that will supervise and support every step of reconstruction and reintegration of the Russian controlled territories on Donbass back into Ukraine.
Tens of thousands have already died on Ukraine’s Eastern Front.
Russia justifies its policy of strategic and often violent separatism as an evenhanded response to the West’s support for Kosovo’s independence and other imagined offenses by NATO, the EU and the United States.
Just over 10 years ago at the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit, President Putin reportedly lamented to President Bush, saying, “Ukraine is not even a state.”
Putin’s forewarning that the United States’ continued support of Kosovo’s independence and NATO enlargement serves as justification for the Kremlin’s misappropriation of territory from Ukraine, Georgia, and other post-Soviet states. Since then, we have seen the Kremlin refine and expand their policy of strategic separatism to include support for Brexit and the further disintegration of the E.U. and its member states.
The newly adopted NATO 2018 Brussels Summit Declaration recognizes Ukraine’s sovereignty, the relevance of U.N. Peacekeepers, and supports the use of sanctions “to promote a peaceful solution to the [Ukraine] conflict and to address Russia’s actions.”
Despite international consensus calling for a robust U.N. Peacekeeping mission in Donbass, Russia envisions U.N. Peacekeepers only as security agents for OSCE Monitors. Concurrently, the Kremlin is clinging to a malign interpretation of the Minsk Agreements designed to ensure that the Donbass conflict remains a gangrenous, frozen conflict preventing Ukraine’s further European integration.
To achieve progress in resolving the conflict in Donbass, a new approach to Minsk is required.
The Brussels Declaration may provide the United States, France, the U.K. and Ukraine an opportunity to engage with Russia on the U.N. Security Council in pursuit of a solution broader than the introduction of a Peacekeeping force to include an International Provisional Administration. The purpose of the IPA would be to expeditiously return Donbass to full Ukrainian sovereignty, support reconciliation and reconstruction, and end the strategic separatist threat.
The Balkans were stabilized by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 which established an Interim Administration Mission for Kosovo. It is foreseeable that a similar UN Security Council resolution for Ukraine would break the current impasse. Of course, Russia would need to be granted a limited, and controlled role within the carefully structured interim administration.
In turn, good behavior within the interim administration could be rewarded, on a tit-for-tat basis, by a gradual lessening of sanctions.
Given Russia’s veto on the Security Council, the composition and terms of reference of the IPA will require compromises by all sides. And there are real risks involved in offering Russia a role inside the IPA. These risks, however, must be weighed against the continued rot of Russia’s armed intervention in Ukraine and an even more aggressive Russian pursuit of its policy of strategic separatism.
John DeBlasio is the co-founder of New Media Group NFP
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.