‘Greater OSCE efforts would be needed to maintain demilitarized zones in Ukraine’

Local residents standing at what has remained of their house after artillery shelling of Donetsk. (RIA Novosti/Irina Gerashchenko)


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If the parties at the Minsk peace talks agree on establishing a wider ceasefire buffer zone between the warring sides, considerable resources from the OSCE will be needed to observe and maintain it, Charles Shoebridge, former UK army officer, told RT.

READ MORE: Demilitarized zone, Kiev-Donetsk dialogue to
be focus of Normandy 4 talks in Minsk – source

It’s understood that there’s now a consensus among those
involved in the
Minsk peace talks, that no military
solution to the crisis is possible. Yet, Washington is still
mulling arms supplies to Kiev. Could the US de-rail

Charles Shoebridge: The answer in short, is that
it is still possible very much so. As we know from the different
theatres around the world – not least Ukraine, Syria, lots of
other examples – US foreign policy is far from a consistent
coherent beast. There are various different lobby groups
advocating, including within the parties themselves, in
Washington. Different factions want different things. But it
could be that Obama and even Merkel and Hollande are able to use
it to their advantage, if indeed on the sidelines they can have
not a particularly big stick because the US has said that it is
not going to be supplying vast amounts of weaponry.

But if there is a possibility of the US supplying weaponry that
my at least focus minds and deliver a sense of urgency. But were
those weapons to be delivered of course it would be a terrible
step of escalation. One would expect that those arming the rebels
would similarly up their game, as well. Indeed we’ve seen the
results elsewhere when weapons are poured into a combat zone such
as Syria or Libya. It makes the situation much worse and it makes
the effects of the war not just greater but also geographically
more widespread throughout Ukraine, as well.

RT: The creation of a demilitarized zone
seems to be a key part of the new plan. But this has been tried
before and things didn’t work out. What will be different this
time round?

CS: This time around, if the early indications
such as, for example, Hollande came out with over the weekend for
the French side is that the demilitarized zone, a buffer zone,
would be much larger than that originally suggested in Minsk back
in September. As you currently say, that didn’t work. The fact is
that this time there will be much greater resources and much
greater effort needed to be put into establishing a buffer zone
that is actually wider.

We were talking in Minsk in September around 30 km between the
warring parties. This time they are talking anything between
50-70 km. This will require a much greater, how I see it,
commitment on the ground. I don’t mean in terms of that they
haven’t so far been politically committed to the process. Those
monitors on the ground are doing a difficult job in very
difficult circumstances. Nonetheless, their resources are thinly
stretched. So in order to establish, and then police, observe and
maintain a ceasefire buffer zone between the warring parties of
what is now quite a wide geographical area will take a
considerable input of resources from the OSCE countries, and of
course those countries include Russia.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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