This is probably the best offer Putin made since the time he offered to trade Obama all of America’s nuclear codes for a handful of red jelly beans.
The United Nations on Friday said it could not accept Russia’s offer to replace peacekeepers from Austria in the Golan Heights because an agreement between Israel and Syria bars permanent members of the Security Council from the UN observer mission.
The United Nations expressed appreciation for the Russian offer, made on Friday by President Vladimir Putin after Austria said it would recall its troops from a UN monitoring force due to worsening fighting in Syria.
“We appreciate the consideration that the Russian Federation has given to provide troops to the Golan,” he told reporters.
Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said his country was well aware of that limitation in a document signed four decades ago, which is why Putin said that it would depend on whether countries in the region – namely Syria and Israel – and the United Nations wanted Russian troops there.
“We believe that times have changed,” Churkin told reporters, adding that it was theoretically possible to amend the protocol that bars permanent council members from UNDOF.
“The document was signed 39 years ago at the height of (the) Cold War and the whole context of the (Arab-Israeli) war in 1973,” he said. “Now the context is completely different and UNDOF seems to be in dire straits. So we are offering essentially to rescue UNDOF.”
The new context is that Russia is a close ally of Assad. Russian soldiers would be holding down an unstable area against Anti-Assad Sunni Jihadists.
I’m not sure what’s in it for Putin except a chance to throw around his weight. Russia already has plenty of personnel inside Syria. And while this would no doubt help Assad, if Putin really wanted to get involved in Syria more than he already has by putting troops on the ground and on the front lines of the fighting, he would already be doing it.
So I’m not sure what the point is except to show that everyone else is weak, and that is a typical bit of posturing from Putin and the Russian government.
Israel might concievably agree to such a move. It doesn’t have much to lose. Syria would certainly jump at the chance. But the UN couldn’t agree to it. It would be as bad as turning the watch over to Qatar or France.
What is Putin’s endgame? He might actually want to see his people, in UN uniforms come under attack, which they certainly would be, by the rebels. The Sunni rebels have captured peacekeepers, but a full firefight would make NATO jumping in on the Sunni side look even worse.