One of the most complicated factors of the Post-Soviet tradition has been the pattern of Russia’s “peacekeeping” on the territory of the Soviet successors or states trying to escape from “Big brother`s” influence.
The essential objective of this paper is to examine the current “peacekeeping” operations of Russia or CSTO in the Post-Soviet states and its impact on regional integration. The following important issues will be examined: Concept of “robust peacekeeping” in contemporary conflicts; current “peacekeeping” operations of Russia in the region and its robust nature, especially in terms of Russia`s involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict; regional integration implications for the states those who challenged with frozen conflicts.
The outcome will be complicated, especially regarding there is not the sole concept of international law “legal intervention” to another state`s sovereign territory, except for UN authorization. Despite this implication, l will try to utilize the advantages of small-n comparative study to identify the nature of general rules of peacekeeping operations.
Keywords: Russia, peacekeeping, conflicts, integration, sovereignty.
The Concept of peacekeeping operations in contemporary conflicts.
Peacekeeping missions began under the leadership of the United Nations (UN) in 1948 by the delivery of an unarmed military monitoring team following a ceasefire between Israel and its Arab neighbors. These operations have been formed as a mothed to support countries and their civilians to ensure essences for a stable and safe region (Unsal Sigri and Ufuk Bas, 2014). International organizations such as the UN, NATO, AU (African Union) are participating in the peacemaking process. Currently, 13 UN peacekeeping operations going on in various parts of the world. NATO currently conducts peacekeeping operations in 3 different regions (Afghanistan, Kosovo, and the Mediterranean). Also, The AU as a reaction to the Darfur conflict collaborated with the UN and as a result of this collaboration in 2007 UNAMID (The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur) emerged. Consequently, AU deployed peacekeepers to Sudan.
Simultaneously, there are several examples of peace-making operations carried out by states individually: Indian Peacekeeping Process in Sri-Lanka (IPKF), The Australian-New Zealand-led coalition in Solomon Island and Timor-Leste (2006-2013), TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron) which was staffed from Norway, Turkey, Sweden, Switzerland, and of course Russia`s presence in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Tajikistan and lastly in Azerbaijan (Andrew Sprague, 2016)
Despite, some studies speculated on the peacekeeping process, however, generally agreed steps have not yet been defined, such as determinant criteria of success or failure of operations, exact criteria of nature of operations, and so on. But, there are different types of peacekeeping operations that help us to identify the nature:
Preventive deployments – generally acted with the host country in order to avoid aggression or potential threads.
Traditional peacekeeping – these operations are intended to promote the peace-making process between states. This kind of peacekeeping mechanism does not force the states to seek political solutions, rather they work to facilitate the situation and create a dialogue atmosphere.
Wider peacekeeping – these operations are meant to fulfill the purpose of the traditional peacekeeping operations, in the meantime carrying out additional tasks such as humanitarian assistance.
Peace enforcement – these operations are intended to enforce parties on the specific conflict by the intention of UNSC. This kind of operations are the closest way for collective security and the UN due to its charter.
Assisting transitions – this kind of operations are carried out for implementing peace deal or resolutions.
Transnational administrations – after the deployment of peacekeepers if another problem comes out such as understanding of sovereign administration over a certain territory, in that case, transnational administrations have a right to enforce the law.
Peace support operations – these operations are linked to support liberal-democratic institutions within states such as humanitarian agencies, justice officers (Alex J.Bellemy, Paul D. Williams and S. Griffin, 2010).
Regarding the classification of peacekeeping operations mentioned above, there is a precise line between peacekeeping and enforcement. The recent doctrinal approach reflected by the UN in the “United Nations Operations: Principals and Guidelines” presented by the Secretariat following comprehensive negotiations with member states in 2008 (Ian Johnstone, 2011):
“Robust peacekeeping involves the use of force at the tactical level with the authorization of the Security Council and consent of the host nation and/or the main parties to the conflict”· “By contrast, peace enforcement does not require the consent of the main parties and may involve the use of military force at the strategic or international level, which is normally prohibited for the Member States under Article 2(4) of the Charter, unless authorized by the Security Council.”
In other words, UN peacekeeping missions are normally performed only if all parties to a dispute have accepted the mission. Generally, their views on the scope and mandate of the force are also pursued. If any party of the conflict pulls back its support for the peacekeeping operation, then the force will be withdrawn. In addition, any of the stakeholders has a veto over the peacekeeping activity. 
Nature of Russian peacekeeping mission. “Peacekeepers” or “piecekeepers”?
Russian peacemaking operations are different in every aspect of the United Nations operations, as illustrated by its ongoing missions in Moldova, Georgia, Tajikistan, Ukraine, and lastly in Azerbaijan. That is mainly identified as “extended peacekeeping” which is similar to “enforcing” peace. Troubles of legality principles of operations, negative consequences, public criticism have not significantly impacted Russian forces` operations. Mandating the peace operations in the sense of international law and the international community is a particular interest of small states that maintain their sovereignty in the shadow of the dominant power. On the other hand, the issue of peace operations` legality, as raised by the host country who may have been compelled to cooperate with the peacekeepers, varies from the subject of the peacekeeper who wishes to behave in his own national interests. Y. Primakov, former Prime Minister of Russia regarding the legitimacy of operations maintained the following criterias:
Ø Russia’s obligations according to the UN Charter
Ø Agreements within the CIS on peacekeeping from 1992 and 1993
Ø Russian laws on its defence
Ø Russian military doctrine of November 1993
Furthermore, despite Russia is a member of OSCE and UNSC in 1994 former Minister of Foreign Affairs Kozyrev regarding peace operations stated “Russia does not need further legitimization” (Taylor, Francis, 2019)
After mid-1993, when attitudes emerged in Moscow on the significance of the “Near Abroad” for Russian interests “peacekeeping” has been key element for Russian foregin policy. Therefore in this regard, five cases will be analyzed in order to identify the nature of Russian peacekeeping operations: Tajikistan, Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992 Tajikistan challenged with civil war and border clashes with Afghanistan. When the Tajikistani government requested for the Russian military to present the 201st Motorized Rifle Division of Russia stayed in Tajikistan as part of the Joint Peacekeeping Force of CIS. Domestic resources were unable to guarantee Tajikistan`s defense. Therefore, the Rakmon`s regime has relied on armed forces: Russian Border Troops and Tajikistan CIS Peacekeeping Force. In 1994 and 1995, the Russian and Central Asian Authorities proposed CIS troops to be recognized as peacekeeping forces under the UN authority which prompted multiple debated neutrality of 201st Division of Russia and therefore this request did not accept by UN. Vice versa UN itself involved in this process and set up the United Nations Mission of Observers in Tajikistan (UNMOT). Generally, in comparison to Moldova and Georgia, the Russian Government tended to sustain peace in Tajikistan (Dov Lynch, 2000)
The Transnistria issue was viewed by the Russian authority as a matter of the “near abroad” defense of the rights of Russians, despite the fact that The Russian make up just 25% of the population. The settlement of July 1992 between Russian and Moldovan presidents was followed by the deployment of peacekeeping troops, composed by primarily of Russians. But Russia implemented this deployment its own and there was not CIS mandate (Taylor, Francis. 1996).
In Moldova`s case, Russia applies a double standard by funding Transnistrian authority, in the meantime by creating an image trying to mediate and keeping peace in the region (Ernest Vardanean. 2018). Moscow is estimated to spend around $100 million a year on the Transnistrian economy. Therefore Moldovia`s newly elected president Sandu demanded Russian troops to leave the country by saying “We are an independent country that does not want foreign troops to stay on its territory” However, in return Russia rejected to leave the country and the Minister of Foreign Affairs S. Lavrov mentioned that would be the irresponsible act for Russia.
İn 2014 when the Russian-Ukrainian war started it mainly centered around the status of Crimea and Donbas.  Russian intervention in Ukraine`s domestic affairs has been persistent since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Regarding a vital component of Russia`s strategic defense policy, Ukraine has been a particular interest for Kremlin. Especially, it mainly elaborated on keeping Ukraine away from NATO and the EU. Therefore, Russia seeked any opportunity to establish a mechanism to apply “veto” power on any negotiations Ukraine`s towards the west. Days after the Maidan demonstration in 2014 led former pro-Russian president V. Yanukovich to abandon government, in return Putin authorized military training at the borderline with Ukraine and then on 1 March, the Council of Russian Federation granted Putin jurisdiction to use force in Ukraine. After the annexation of Crimea to Russia war ignited between the Ukrainian government Russian back separatist regimes in Donbas and Luhansk. The US, The EU, and Russia agreed to endorse the OSCE Monitoring Group to take measures to de-escalate the conflict and the Ukrainian government declared a ceasefire and enabled OSCE observers to visit the area. However, unlike past frozen crises, Russia did not openly interfere and deploy “peacekeeping” troops to effectively demarcate new territorial boundaries. Russia`s most real concern was the possibility for the US to begin supplying tactical assistance to Ukraine (Andrew S. Bowen. 2017). But in 2020, a day after the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh D. Peskov mentioned the possibility of Russian peacekeeping operations in Donbas.
Since the early nineties, the mediation process in South Ossetia and Abkhazia has been controlled by Russian peacekeeping troops deployed in both conflict zones. In fact, the contingent deployed in the areas of conflict zone has been used by Russia to reinforce its significant effect over the region, rather than to implement the basic functions in the framework of the peacekeeping mission, such as prevention of militarization, giving Russian passports and creation of unauthorized militant groups. Therefore, at the first stage in 2006, The Georgian Parliament unanimously adopted a resolution advising the administration to act steps to withdraw Russian peacekeepers from South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Before starting the “5 days war” the Separatist regime in South Ossetia held a military parade which was portrayed as the unrecognized republic`s independence day and Russian peacekeepers kept silence. Consequently, the Georgian Parliament considered responsible Russia for being interested in keeping the status quo .
In 2008 when Georgia launched military operations against separatist regimes Russian military forces not only expel the Georgian army from S. Ossetia, also invaded Abkhazia and marched deep into Georgia (Martin Malek. 2009). And on 26 August 2008, Russian former president Medvedev issued a decree recognizing the independence of S. Ossetia and Abkhazia by referring to CSCE Helsinki Final Act of self-determination right
After the collapse of the Soviet Union conflict between Russia-backed Armenia and Azerbaijan flared up over the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast of the Soviet period. İn 1993, during the ongoing war Azerbaijan demanded Russian troops to leave the country. After one-year of Russian troops leave, the first Nagorno-Karabakh war ended in 1994 in favor of Armenia, which led to an unstable status-quo in the region that lasted 26 years. In 1993 UNSC recognized Azerbaijan`s territorial integrity and adopted four resolutions (822, 853, 874, 884), in the meantime by testifying occupation factor demanded occupying forces to leave Azerbaijan
After the ceasefire agreement in 1994, one of the main dispute was related to the peacekeeping mission in the conflict zone. Regarding the peaceful resolution of the crisis, the military experts of the Minsk Group proposed a chance to establish an observer operation in the region. The summit in Budapest in 1994 was a turning point in the peace process. The OSCE and Russia had resolved their disagreements and the decision was taken to deploy a multinational peacekeeping mission to the territory with a force of 3000 personnel. The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was the first time that the OSCE initiated to carry out a peacekeeping mission and with the resolutions of UNSC, OSCE was granted “Something of the UN Mandate” to carry out that mission. But unfortunately, that mission failed. The major point in this sense was the disagreement between Russia and the OSCE due to the actual structure of the personnel. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Russia implicitly or explicitly interfered Post-Soviet states` domestic affairs, especially creating an image of so-called “peacekeeping” or “humanitarian” (McNeill, 1997). Therefore, Russia`s approach towards its “Near Abroad” was one of the key obstacles facing the OSCE in enforcing its strategies on conflict resolution (Gian Luca Burci.1997). In fact, Russia had a program that would allow the existence of a “Separation Force” controlled by Russia with permission to use force to prevent any infringement. (Maresca.2000). But this kind of strategy would totally violate the practices which were approved to be carried out by the OSCE. The most important sense of OSCE Peace Operations is the limitation of use of force (which is the traditional approach UN Peacekeeping Missions). In that case, OSCE member states did not allow Russia to constitute such kind of operations. 
After the decades of failing attempts for a peaceful solution of crisis reinforced attitudes on both sides and resulted in six weeks of warfare in 2020 and a Russian-brokered ceasefire between Armenia and Azerbaijan ended a six-week war when Armenia was on the eve of defeat The ceasefire agreement enables the installation of Russian peacekeeping troops in internationally recognized territories of Azerbaijan with 1960 personnel. Despite the agreement has some positive aspects, however, there are a fair amount of remaining questions. The most complicated issue is the duration of the presence of peacekeeping force in Azerbaijan that can lead to other scenarios those who experienced “Russian peacekeepers” -“Russian peacekeeping contingent is five years, with an automatic extension for five-year periods if none of the parties declares its intention to terminate it six months before the end of the current period” Another crucial question is related to Russian peacekeepers` mandate, in other words after the deployment of peacekeepers Russian government sent varied kinds of working groups to the conflict zone.
Generally, the agreement confirmed for Russia its leading role in the region and capacity to deliver as a broker. Moreover, in Nagorno-Karabakh, Kremlin established a strategic foundation.
Frozen conflicts and regional integration: Benefit for Kremlin
Frozen conflicts take place in territories of states which are not the jurisdiction of central governments. In the realm of the post-Soviet countries, frozen conflicts play a significant role in the establishment of integration processes in Eastern Europe and the South Caucasus, especially regarding the case of these states` lack of sovereignty of internationally recognized territories that challenges foreign policy. They are under the influence of so-called “proto-states” charged with enforcing the policies implemented by Russia, as the Kremlin ensures the security of them. In this way, Moscow has taken measures to inhibit the Euro-Atlantic ambitions of these states and practically neither NATO nor the EU are eager to become members the countries which are unable to take full control of their sovereign territories (Jakub Lachert.2019)
Therefore, in order to establish resilience in Post-Soviet countries for those who challenged with frozen conflicts in 1997 GUAM (Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova) was conceived. Enhancing cooperation in economic, political, diplomatic, technical fields was the main purpose of this organization. However, in terms of the increasing role of the GUAM in the region and the presence of Russia, GUAM was seen by Russia as a way to tackle Russian influence in the region as part of the US-backed campaign-“Axis of Evil”. Accordingly, member states` increasing reluctance to take part in this organization led to the mere failure of the GUAM
To sum up, regarding the Russian mechanism of “Peacekeeping” in this way Russia established a new strategy to control over the Post-Soviet states those who faced with frozen conflict and pro-Kremlin separatist-ruled “quasi-states”.
The primary purpose of my paper was to identify the nature of Russian peacekeepers and their role in integration processes in the Post-Soviet realm. In this way, I mainly speculated on frozen conflicts. Before moving towards frozen conflicts I put forward 7 different sorts of peacekeeping missions (Preventive deployments, traditional peacekeeping, wider peacekeeping, Peace enforcement, transnational administration, assisting transitions, Peace support operations) to identify assessment criteria for the nature of the Russian peacekeeping mission. I also applied international, especially UN practice in order to give more understanding of peacekeeping operations. The article, in the meantime, analyzed some Post-Soviet states who experienced Russian intervention, so-called “Russian peacekeepers”
Several conclusions can be reached based on some practical proofs in this paper. The most crucial factor of Russian peacekeeping operations is related to the legality of that. Russia conducts all these operations without UN sanctions. In the best case, Russian intervention of conflicts is kind of the third party who mediates conflict between conflicting sides. On the other hand, in terms of conflicted states in the Post-Soviet realm Russian back “proto-states” within peacekeepers deployed the states testifies, that is the new strategy for Kremlin to prevent or control the foreign policy of the countries.
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