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UN peacekeepers should use force only for self-defense — Lavrov

The Russian top diplomat says Moscow welcomes initiative to reform the UN peacekeeping activity

UNITED NATIONS, September 20./TASS/. Russia welcomes discussion on reforming the UN peacekeeping activity given the present-day realities, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

"We welcome Ethiopia’s initiative to hold a session (of the UN Security Council) on reforming the UN peacekeeping activity," Lavrov told a session of the UN Security Council on peacekeeping. "The UN activity on the peacekeeping trajectory necessitates adaptation to present-day international realities," he added.

Lavrov said new tasks in the peacekeeping sphere necessitate "in-depth discussion by the member countries and the (UN) Secretariat with an aim to work out consistent and balanced approaches to overcoming a patchy nature of political-legal framework, development of respective doctrines, timely drawing up of regulatory instruments basing on analysis of the gathered experience".

"Russia’s fundamental stance is any conflicts must be settled first of all politically with reliance on a national dialogue," the Russian diplomat said. "Assistance in creating necessary for this conditions must have top priority in peacekeeping operations," he said.

"The first basic principle of the UN peacekeeping - the blue helmets can be deployed only with the consent of the parties in the conflict - remains fully topical," the top diplomat stressed.

"Impartiality is the second backbone of UN peacekeeping operations. It is unacceptable to see peacekeepers taking the side of this or that participant in the conflict under any pretext," he added.

Moscow calls for adopting a careful approach towards strengthening the mandate of the UN peacekeeping missions, he said. 

"We are very careful about strengthening mandates of peacekeeping missions, the Russian top diplomat said. "The blue helmets may only use force for self-defense and the defense of their mandate," he added.

According to Lavrov, experience gained after providing the right to use force to peacekeepers deployed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali, has not proved that "the losses that peacekeepers suffer during military operations may be justified by the results achieved on the ground."

"If robust mandates are preserved, then they should be carefully calibrated in each and every situation," the Russian foreign minister stressed.

"Recently, so-called intelligence in peacekeeping [operations] has become a fashionable trend, actively promoted by the Secretariat and a support group of certain nations," Lavrov said. "Certainly, peacekeeping operations are first of all troops deployed in the regions that face security threats. In this case, they will definitely not be able to do without some terrain reconnaissance."

"Although, there is some concern about how the received information will be controlled and how its confidentiality will be preserved," he said. "Nevertheless, we do not accept its expansive interpretation and a flexible application of the intelligence.".

Blue helmets in Donbass

The UN and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) may join efforts over the Russian proposal on a UN mission deployment in Donbass to protect the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (SMM), Lavrov said. 

"There are prospects for cooperation between the UN and OSCE," Lavrov said. "This possibility is envisioned in the Russian initiative to establish a UN mission protecting the OSCE SMM in southeast Ukraine, with the aim to facilitate strict and comprehensive implementation of the Minsk accords so as to resolve the intra-Ukrainian crisis."

"These agreements are known to have been unanimously approved in Resolution 2202 of the UN Security Council and it is not good to shrink from their implementation," he said.

Earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russia plans to submit to the United Nations Security Council a resolution on the deployment of a UN mission along the line of engagement in Donbass to ensure safety of the OSCE mission.

Nonetheless, he stressed that deployment of UN peacekeepers could only be possible after weapons withdrawal from the area and upon agreement with the self-proclaimed Donbass republics. According to the Russian leader, the deployment of UN forces tasked to ensure the OSCE mission’s security will help solve the problem in southeastern Ukraine. In the meantime, Kiev insists that the UN forces be deployed on the border of Ukraine and Russia.

Lavrov and OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger discussed the OSCE’s participation in resolution of the Ukraine conflict, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

Lavrov and Greminger "discussed issues related to the OSCE participation in resolving the conflict in Ukraine, the current state of affairs in the organization, the secretary general’s planning for his term in office," the ministry said.

Besides, Lavrov and Greminger focused on preparations for the OSCE Ministerial Council, due in Vienna on December 7-8, 2017.