NATO countries cool on Poland’s peacekeeping plan for Ukraine

Inquam Photos / Octav Ganea

NATO countries reacted coolly on Wednesday to Poland’s  proposal for an armed peacekeeping mission in Ukraine.

Wider war

The alliance’s 30 defense ministers were holding talks on strengthening the bloc and preventing a wider war with Russia.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, Poland’s deputy prime minister, has called for a NATO mission to o provide humanitarian aid that would be “able to defend itself” and “protected by appropriate forces, armed forces”.

Some NATO ministers swiftly dismissed Poland’s peacekeeping idea while others said they were looking for further details on the proposal, the National News reported.

Russian forces

NATO has not deployed troops in Ukraine. Some members of the alliance have donated weapons and other equipment. Many view direct engagement with Russian forces as a step too far.

The US-led alliance has told Ukraine it will not establish a no-fly zone over the country for fear that it would escalate into a wider European conflict with Russia.

MiG-29 jets

That same concern helped to sink another proposal of Poland’s, to put a fleet of Soviet-era MiG-29 jets at NATO’s disposal to help Ukraine. The U.S said the transfer was untenable.

Kajsa Ollongren, the Dutch defense minister, said it was “very difficult to see a peace mission now with a war going on”, with Russian troops directly attacking and besieging major cities in Ukraine.

“We’re still in too early stages to talk about that. First, we have to have a ceasefire. We have to see withdrawal from Russia,” she said.

Negotiating table

Luxembourg’s Francois Bausch gave a “very clear no” to Poland’s suggestion, instead calling for Russia to return to the negotiating table.

The UK and Canada said the idea would be discussed on Wednesday and did not come down firmly on either side. Canadian minister Anita Anand said successful peace negotiations were the best way forward.

Estonia’s Defense Minister Kalle Laanet said he was open to Poland’s idea, which he described as one of the possibilities for helping Ukraine.

Peacekeeping mission

But he said any such peacekeeping mission should be supported by the UN Security Council, where Russia is a permanent member and has a veto.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky conceded on Tuesday that his country was unlikely to join NATO  any time soon. He  said his country was looking for other types of security guarantees.

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