Poland to call for peacekeeping mission in Ukraine at NATO summit

Poland will present a proposal to organise a peacekeeping mission in Ukraine at the forthcoming NATO summit and European Council meeting, the government has announced. The idea was put forward by Jarosław Kaczyński, the head of the ruling party, during the visit to Kyiv of the Polish, Czech and Slovenian prime ministers.

It has since been suggested by Poland’s defence minister at a meeting with his counterparts from other NATO countries, who responded “with interest”. But there has been little support from countries including the United States and Germany as well as the NATO secretary general.

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Government spokesman Piotr Müller confirmed that the proposal of an international mission in Ukraine will be presented during next week’s extraordinary NATO summit and European Council meeting following a meeting of Poland’s National Security Bureau. He had been asked about the “restrained” reactions that the proposal had met with.

“There will be no easy or swift solutions, but in order to undertake such action, we need to start working out different scenarios,” said Müller, quoted by the Polish Press Agency.

“The opinions of some Western European countries are currently restrained, yet further pressure might mean that in the future such a [peacekeeping] mission is organised.”

Poland is not calling for a mission that would involve “getting into direct conflict with Russia”, he clarified. It would be based on the idea of “stationing in parts of Ukraine that are not currently occupied” and protecting it against further Russian activities with the aim of “sending a clear signal that there is no acceptance for war crimes”.

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Kaczyński, who is also a deputy prime minister and Poland’s de facto leader, proposed the idea during the visit of the Polish, Czech and Slovenian prime ministers to the besieged Ukrainian capital, when he accompanied the trip to express solidarity with President Volodymyr Zelensky and Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.

Kaczyński declared that he sees a need for a mission of a NATO or even broader international coalition, which would be in power “to defend itself and act on the territory of Ukraine”. This mission would not be unarmed, he added: “It will strive for peace and providing humanitarian aid but at the same time it will be shielded by armed forces.”

The proposal was put forward to ministers of NATO member countries during a visit to Brussels by Mariusz Błaszczak, the defence minister, who said it was “met with interest”. Błaszczak noted that he was counting on “a swift declaration of the Alliance”, although the proposal “is not easy and everyone is aware of that”.

However, the reaction from NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg has been lukewarm. NATO is supporting peace efforts and appeals to Putin to withdraw Russian soldiers from Ukraine, Stoltenberg said, but “we are not planning to send NATO soldiers to Ukraine”. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz also rejected the idea, according to Tagesschau, cited by PAP.

The proposal has already been dismissed by Ned Price, spokesman of the U.S. State Department, who pointed out that both NATO and the USA “want to avoid doing anything that would prolong this war or that would expand [it]”.

Price stated that having American or NATO military on Ukrainian territory or in Ukrainian airspace “has the potential to expand it to something that is even larger and much more grave in terms of its implications”.

Main image credit: NATO (under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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