When peacekeepers will come to Ukraine
The introduction of peacekeepers to Donbas or, at least, the actual ceasefire would be beneficial for both Ukraine as a whole and those who are now power today. Of course, the fact of a peacekeeping mission deployment could be used in a political struggle. And the introduction of peacekeepers before presidential and parliamentary elections may give additional points to the president or political parties in parliament. However, talking about this solely in the context of "future elections" would be undeniable manipulation. After all, discussion on peacekeepers has been going on for quite a while: the idea of introducing peacekeepers was first voiced by President Poroshenko back in 2015. After that, the initiative was taken over by Russia when Vladimir Putin put forward his own concept.
As for the UN General Assembly, where Poroshenko intends to talk about peacekeepers, this is an attempt not to resolve the issue, but to raise the stakes in the debate. Rather, it is a tactic of additional pressure on the Russian Federation regarding the very idea of a peacekeeping mission
As a result, today we de facto keep discussing the so-called "Russian proposals." And here any progress largely depends not on Ukraine, but on the search for compromises along the Moscow - Washington and Moscow - Berlin lines. Each player has their own vision. I should recall that in talks on the settlement formats, Russia insists primarily on the solution to the political bloc of issues - the elections in Donbas, formation of local governments, and a special status for these territories. Of course, such a compromise will not be in the interests of Ukraine and the electoral interests of today's political power. Therefore, if we consider the issue in the context of the upcoming elections, the only option that suits the president and his BPP party in terms of the electoral campaign is the start of the mission, with the transfer of the discussion on political settlement in Donbas for a later period.
As for the UN General Assembly, where Poroshenko intends to talk about peacekeepers, this is an attempt not to resolve the issue, but to raise the stakes in the debate. Rather, it is a tactic of additional pressure on the Russian Federation regarding the very idea of a peacekeeping mission. Although, I doubt that the results of the vote in the General Assembly will oblige Russia to go for some other format.
However, let's imagine that the UN General Assembly votes unanimously to deploy a peacekeeping mission, and that even Russia votes for it. The final decision on peacekeepers is taken by the UN Security Council. That is, it is necessary to prepare a detailed concept of the mandate, coordinate positions, which will take at least three weeks or even a month if everyone agrees. But there is no such agreement so far.
Another issue is the signatories of the mandate. The mandate of peacekeepers is signed by both sides of the confrontation. On the one side, I understand, there is the president of Ukraine and the Ukrainian authorities. But who will be on the other side? Russia does not want to be the second signatory, insisting that it be the so-called authorities in the "DPR" and "LPR." It will take at least two weeks to resolve the issue. Again, this is if everyone agrees, but we see that there is no agreement now.
Thus, even in the best case, it's already a month and a half. Then go several weeks of preparations for voting in the Security Council, after which there will be the vote and drafting appeals to the states that could provide their forces. Each state judges whether it agrees to send their troops and how many they should deploy (in some states, the decision is taken by the parliament). Accordingly, as a whole, this will last for four months and this will already be the next year.
Moreover, the fact that some states are ready to send their troops does not mean that they will actually be deployed
The next question is who will pay for all this. I'd like to remind that UN peacekeeping programs are seeing a funding gap. This means that a certain state or group of states should allocate sufficiently large amounts of money for the mission. And soldiers from different countries, as cynical as it may sound, cost differently. Yes, there is a certain unified rate for all member countries, but maintenance of equipment, logistics entail quite different costs. One thing, for example, is to transfer peacekeepers from the Czech Republic to Ukraine, and the other thing – from Peru.
Moreover, the fact that some states are ready to send their troops does not mean that they will actually come. After all, the parties to the confrontation must agree among themselves, which states they want to see in the mission, and which they don't. This will take at least another month.
And the last step is that both sides of the conflict should provide security guarantees for a peacekeeping mission. If there is no guarantee at least from one side, the peacekeeping mission does not start its work. Only after the issue is resolved will observers come, choose locations for deployment, and engineers start constructing the bases. And only then come the peacekeeping forces.
That is, even if the idea of deploying peacekeepers is unanimously supported by the General Assembly (which I very much doubt), they will not be introduced to Ukraine before 2019.
Igar Tishkevich is an expert in internal and foreign policies with the analytical center "Ukrainian Institute of the Future"