Poland’s Kaczynski voices idea of peacekeeping mission in Ukraine

Poland’s Kaczynski voices idea of peacekeeping mission in Ukraine
Jaroslaw Kaczynski said peacekeepers should be deployed in Ukraine to assist humanitarian aid and deter aggression by military means if necessary.
By Wojciech Kosc in Warsaw March 16, 2022

A peacekeeping mission, possibly under a Nato umbrella, should be deployed in Ukraine to assist humanitarian aid and deter aggression by military means if necessary, Poland’s deputy Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski said while on a high-level political mission to Kyiv on March 15.

Kaczynski, who is a de facto Poland’s top decision-maker, travelled to the Ukrainian capital with the prime ministers of Poland, Czechia, and Slovenia to show support for President Volodymyr Zelensky, who has been leading his country against Russian aggression for three weeks now. 

"I believe that it is necessary to have a peace mission, by Nato or possibly some wider international structure – a mission that will be able to defend itself – which will operate on Ukrainian territory," Kaczynski told a news conference.

"It will be a mission that will strive for peace, to give humanitarian aid, but at the same time it will also be protected by appropriate forces, armed forces," Kaczynski added.

Ukraine has long asked for more direct involvement of Nato against Russia – mainly via establishing a no-fly zone over the country – a plea that Nato says cannot meet for fear of a direct confrontation with Moscow, a nuclear power.

Security experts are even fearful of involving Nato in any kind of peacekeeping operation in Ukraine, citing the alliance's unhappy experience in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s. "Be very careful of a phoney peace settlement that simply stores up problems for later on," Jamie Shea, former Nato assistant deputy secretary general and the alliance's spokesman during the Kosovo conflict, told an LSE Ideas webcast on March 15.

He warned that Nato peacekeeping forces could be put in an ambigous operating environment, and Russia could use any pause in the fighting to build new statelets such as Donetsk and Luhansk and then resume its advance at some future date.

The West has been sending humanitarian aid and weaponry to Ukraine, which has held up exceptionally well against Russian forces. 

Russia’s advance has stalled in recent days and the aggressors have turned to long-range artillery and missiles attacks on cities and infrastructure in what is seen as a terror campaign to weaken Ukraine’s resolve.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of Poland, Czechia’s PM Petr Fiala, and the Slovenian PM Janez Jansa were the first foreign leaders to travel to Ukraine during the war.

Poland is also one of Europe’s hawks in terms of responding to Russia’s aggression, calling for the harshest possible sanctions to be implemented as soon as possible, including a ban on imports of Russian energy commodities, mainly oil and gas.

"We will never leave you alone because we know that you are fighting not only for your own freedom and security, but also for us,” Morawiecki said in Kyiv. 

Fiala and Jansa also spoke in a similar vein.

“Your visit to Kyiv at this difficult time is powerful evidence of support. We appreciate it very much,” President Zelensky said, thanking the PMs.

Ukraine is negotiating a peace solution with Russia to end the war. “A very difficult and viscous negotiation process. There are fundamental contradictions. But there is certainly room for compromise,” Zelensky’s aide Mihailo Podolyak said. 

The PMs’ visit was agreed upon during the recent summit of the European Council in Paris and is taking place in consultation with the Council president Charles Michel and the European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, Morawiecki’s office said on March 15.

Nato as well as OSCE, the UN, and “our American partners” were also notified of the high-level trip to the war zone, according to Poland. 

There was no official EU mandate for the trip, however, EU officials said.