London, 24 Feb 2022 – Secretary General Antonio Guterres launched an appeal today: “President Putin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia. This conflict must stop now””; no mention, so far, of a possible invoking of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, the one allowing the Security Council to use its peacekeeping powers and setting the means to deliver operations. Chapter VII is addressing specifically UN troops and military/humanitarian means in the frame of an “act of aggression”.
This would be case, as Russia has invaded Ukraine tonight not just at its eastern border, but in a full scale military attack with civil targets such the Kiev airport. Blue Helmets then could be deployed in addition to UN observers.
NATO cannot actively defend Ukraine by sending its troops or delivering airstrikes as Ukraine is not a NATO member. Its members are currently contributing to send arms and support to Ukraine.
As this attack is de facto a threat to international peace, because Russia targets indirectly NATO and the global post WWII international setting, the UN Security Council should pass a Chapter VII resolution which is exactly designed to face these kind of threats.
In 2016 the then Ukraine’s permanent representative to the UN, Vladimir Yelchenko, asked former Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, a peacekeeping mission to face the conflict with pro-Russian rebels in the two separatist regions of Luhansk and Donetsk.
The complexity of Blue Helmets missions approvals.
UN peacekeeping troops are made of soldiers coming from UN countries, it’s therefore a difficult choice for nations to send their soldiers to fight and risk their lives in combat zones, such Ukraine now.
So far, while we write, Russian ground, air and sea attack hitting strategic targets and the main cities of Ukraine, made 57 reported deaths (updated at 21.30 of 24 Feb 2022).
Though Blue Helmets bear weapons, they can only respond to armed attacks for self defense, and this is a point of vulnerability in severe conflicts like this.
Then, despite the comprehensible difficulties and reluctance to deploy UN troops, the potential degeneration and widening of such an attack which targets, by proxy, Western democracies and NATO, is far more dangerous to the world than other conflict zones where UN sent, and actively keeps today, Blue Helmets peacekeeping missions.
As clearly US and EU do not want a war with Russia and are going on severing sanctions, the UN is the only chance we do actually have. Sanctions might not work as deterrent in the context of a set of declared and non-declared alliances and friendships of authoritarian regimes with Russia.
Today (24, Feb 2022) in a conversation over the phone, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said to Russian Sergei Lavrov that “China does not support the violation of national territorial integrity, but on the other hand we understand Russia’s concerns”; an ambiguous position that gives a clear idea of what China’s vote will be in the Security Council over Ukraine’s destiny.
While some geopolitical analysts said China’s support to Russia will be short lived, it’s to be noted that China’s interest is to keep US and the West busy with a conflict in Europe, so that Beijing can quietly go on with its expansion in the South China Sea and, despite assurances from Xi this is not going to happen, to expand its influence in Taiwan: the island in fact denounced today the incursion of nine Chinese military fighters into its air identification zone.
The end of diplomacy over Ukraine and the East-West wider setting of this confrontation which unset the relative balance of the post Cold War era, would furthermore justify Blue Helmets mission as so far over the totality of Chapter VII Security Council resolutions has been passed after the end of the Cold War in1989.
Emy Muzzi/Justine de Braeme