Former UN Peacekeeper On War In Ukraine

March 22, 2022

[Written by Don Burgess]

Former UN peacekeeper Jeff Baron said NATO should be doing more to help Ukraine in its war against Russia.

In 2007-08, Mr. Baron served with Ukrainian and Russian UN Peacekeepers in the Balkans. “There was tremendous camaraderie,” he said. “As a response team, when we needed a lift, the Russians would give us a ride in a helicopter. None of us were diplomats or executives or had anything to do with the executive function of the mission area or the mandate.” He added that the main goal was to protect international staff and stabilize the region.

Mr. Baron said he served alongside people from Ethiopia, Switzerland, Austria, US, Russia, and Ukraine. “It’s almost a cliché, but it’s like a Benetton ad, but the camaraderie was great.”

He said there is no scope for the UN to try peacekeeping in Ukraine at this moment. Mr. Baron added said when there is a ceasefire, the UN could then discuss whether there should be a mandate for peacekeeping. “With how unstable the region is right now, if there is a ceasefire through force or diplomacy, you might see a UN administration setting up a mandate there to keep the peace, and that would be appropriate.

“There has to be a line drawn where the west and NATO are trying to advance diplomacy, so they don’t have to use air or ground forces to drive forces out,” Mr. Baron said. “They want to use diplomacy, which is always the best case. ”

He stressed that NATO should do more, with the former UN peacekeeper adding that Russia should be pressed to have honest diplomatic talks to carve out a ceasefire. “They have to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘At what point will we then commit troops to assist Ukraine?’”

While the west has put some sanctions on Russia, “Russians are advancing on Ukraine, and Ukraine is putting up a hell of a fight. You’re seeing this tremendous leadership with the Ukrainian president [Volodymyr Zelenskyy], who is winning hearts and minds. But at the end of the day, that has a shelf life.”

So far, he concurs with analysts who say the Russian military looks’ ill-prepared.” He said the Russian air and ground troops appear uncoordinated in their attacks. “They haven’t captured the air space and dominated it. This is surprising as the Russian military is quite proud of their product. The ground crews are poorly coordinated. They are asking for directions in Ukraine. There are a lot of stalled vehicles that have run out of gas. Logistically, it looks quite embarrassing. It’s surprising given the Russian military’s scale, scope, and funding. You would think it would be a total shelling, and it would be a coordinated and swift attack, yet it is anything but that.”

He praised the small pockets of Ukrainian forces made up by the military and common who have taken up arms and resisted the Russians. Mr. Baron said it was déjà vu to what happened to them in Afghanistan. “The Mujahidin were not well-funded, they were just creative and clever with their tactics. They also knew their battlefield a lot better, just like Ukrainians. They are on home turf. Even the civilians are undermining the mighty Russian military by using these creative and collaborative solutions. It’s quite interesting to read about but wholly embarrassing for Russia.”

He believes the airspace needs to be controlled, and NATO has to step up. Mr. Baron said the good news is that NATO has unanimously come around the table and taken action for the first time. The sanctions targeting Russian oligarchs seem to be effective.

Some help has arrived in the form of soldiers of war leaping into the fire.

“There are former British soldiers, former American soldiers. They’re flying over to Poland just so they can take up arms and cross the border to help Ukraine fight.”

If you want to help, a fundraising page has been set up on Ptix to donate to Red Cross Ukraine. You can donate here.

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  1. Frank Ocean says:

    NATO is the whole reason why this is going go. The should have disbanded when the Soviet Union fell like they said they would.