The idea was first announced by President Putin at the BRICS Summit in Xiamen, and it's since then caught a lot of traction as the international community realized that Russia is obviously very serious about this initiative if its President would speak about it at such a distinguished forum. German Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel have both signaled their favor for this move, suggesting that if the EU's strongest and most important country is on board with this plan, then it could probably lead to a domino effect across most of the bloc.
This is especially significant because Foreign Minister Gabriel said that the full and proper implementation of peacekeeping forces in Donbass could lead to a lasting ceasefire, which in turn might give way to a political solution that might then result in the lifting of the EU's anti-Russian sanctions. Although still a way's off from happening in any case, this suggests that EU-Russian relations might finally be on the verge of climbing out of their post-Maidan nadir and beginning a new trajectory. Should the positive scenario that Mr. Gabriel outlined come to pass, then it could potentially give the EU the pretext that it needs to counteract American pressure in finally lifting the anti-Russian sanctions, though provided of course that it can convince the stridently Russophobic country of Poland to do so as well.
A workaround might soon be developed, however, whereby Poland's EU voting rights could be suspended because of its refusal to accept migration relocation quotas, which could in theory allow the bloc to vote in repealing the sanctions without Warsaw vetoing it, though this remains only the realm of speculation for now. Another obstacle that could predictably come up would be with Ukraine itself, which while supporting the move in principle, earlier signaled that it doesn't want "parties to the conflict" involved in the prospective peacekeeping mission, hinting that it believes that Russia is an "aggressor country" and therefore invalidated from taking part. This rhetoric runs up against reality because Russia is part of the Normandy Four and Minsk Peace Processes, so it's uncertain how effective Kiev's position will be in stopping Moscow's potential involvement.
Gil Matos-Sequi, American political commentator based in Zurich, and Zak Novak, an American from New York, who is now war correspondent in Donetsk Republic joined our discussion.
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