It looks like a debate is going on in Russia at the moment about whether to send peacekeepers to Lebanon. A couple of politicians are sounding quite enthusiastic, but Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov is talking the idea down a little:
“We are examining the situation, so far we are not clear on the peacekeepers’ status and rights, what they will do there, what mandate they will have,” Ivanov said as quoted as saying by the ITAR-TASS news agency. However, “giving such humanitarian aid would fully answer our country’s interests,” Ivanov added.
Personally, I’d quite like to see Russia become more involved in multi-national UN peacekeeping missions, rather than their usual unilateral missions, which serve only prop up tin-pot dictators on their borders.
I wouldn’t mind seeing China kitting out a few more of its troops with blue helmets, either.
These are two of the world’s major powers, two of the five permanent security council members, and can field two of the world’s best equipped and trained armies. It’s about time they started pulling their weight on the international scene.
And I think the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon might be just the place to do it. It’s high profile mission but one that is, frankly, not really expected to achieve all that much. The involvement of Russia and China would balance out claims that the UN force is too pro-Israel (because, whatever some people think about France, the man on the Arab street still views them as a ‘Western’ country). And their presence would go some way to appeasing Hizbullah, which isn’t going to be thrilled to see a peacekeeping force made up almost entirely of European Union member states.