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Russia ready to send troops to replace Austria in Golan, UN rejects

Al Ahed news

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow will send Russian forces to replace the Austrian Battalion operating within the UN Disengagement Observer Force [UNDOF] if the UN Asks to.

Russia Today website quoted Putin as saying that “Because of the complicated situation in Golan, we can replace the Austrian units which will withdraw from the area with Russian units in case all the region’s countries agreed and the UN Secretary-General asked to.”

He said that UN Secretary-General ban Ki-moon asked Russia, during his last visit to the country, to raise the volume of its forces in the UN-organized peace-keeping missions.

In response, UN Secretary-General Spokesperson Martin Nesirky voiced gratitude for Russia’s offer, but said that the disengagement agreement in the Golan doesn’t permit accepting the Russian suggestion.

“The agreement stipulates that the five permanent members of the Security Council cannot deploy peacekeeping forces in the Golan,” he added.
For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to UN leader Ban Ki-moon about Putin’s offer on Friday. Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin explained the offer to the Security Council.
Churkin said the United Nations should rethink the ban on troops from the major powers in the UN. force.

He said the ceasefire accord to halt the 1973 war between Syria and “Israel” “was signed 39 years ago at the height of Cold War and the whole context of the war of ’73. Now the context is completely different and UNDOF seems to be in dire straits,” said Churkin.
“We are offering essentially to rescue UNDOF,” he added.
This comes as the United Nations scrambled Friday to find fresh troops for the occupied Golan Heights peacekeeping force, which Russia said is in “dire straits” as it offered to help.

It is also trying to persuade Austria to slow down its withdrawal.

“I think we are in a serious situation and we need to work together to try and protect the mission from collapse,” said Britain’s UN ambassador Mark Lyall Grant, Security Council president for June, after the talks.

The pullout of the 377 Austrian troops will leave UNDOF with just 341 troops from the Philippines and 193 from India. Japan and Croatia have also withdrawn in recent months as battles between Syrian government and opposition forces spread into the ceasefire zone.

The Philippines has said it is considering its future in UNDOF.

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