MOSCOW, June 7 (Itar-Tass) - The Russian Defense Minister will dispatch military units to carry out a peacekeeping mission on the Golan Heights if it receives orders from the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces.
"These units are equipped with necessary weapons and hardware and are staffed with contract servicemen,” a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia was ready to replace Austrian peacekeepers on the Golan Heights with approval from the United Nations and if the regional states showed interest in the Russian proposal.
"In view of the complicated situation which is currently unfolding on the Golan Heights, we could replace the Austrian peacekeeping contingent, which is withdrawing from this region, on the disengagement line between the Israeli troops and the Syrian army,” Putin said at a meeting with Russian officers who have been appointed to top army posts or promoted to top military ranks.
“Naturally, that will happen only if the regional powers show interest in our proposal and if the U.N. secretary-general asks us to do that,” Putin went on to say.
At the same time, the Russian head of state said that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had personally asked him to increase Russia’s participation in the United Nations peacekeeping operations during his visit to Russia some time ago.
On Thursday, the Austrian Defense Ministry ordered a withdrawal of its peacekeeping contingent from the Golan Heights. Austrian Defense Minister Gerald Klug said that the withdrawal mechanism had been launched and that the pullout would take from two to four weeks according to schedule. Klug emphasized that Austria could evacuate its soldiers in several hours if the situation got radically worse.
According to Klug, if the withdrawal goes according to plan, the first group of soldiers could return to Austria on June 11.