‘Greater OSCE efforts would be needed to maintain demilitarized zones in Ukraine’

Local residents standing at what has remained of their house after artillery shelling of Donetsk. (RIA Novosti/Irina Gerashchenko)
If the parties at the Minsk peace talks agree on establishing a wider ceasefire buffer zone between the warring sides, considerable resources from the OSCE will be needed to observe and maintain it, Charles Shoebridge, former UK army officer, told RT.

READ MORE: Demilitarized zone, Kiev-Donetsk dialogue to be focus of Normandy 4 talks in Minsk - source

RT:It's understood that there's now a consensus among those involved in theMinsk peace talks, that no military solution to the crisis is possible. Yet, Washington is still mulling arms supplies to Kiev. Could the US de-rail peace?

Charles Shoebridge: The answer in short, is that it is still possible very much so. As we know from the different theatres around the world - not least Ukraine, Syria, lots of other examples - US foreign policy is far from a consistent coherent beast. There are various different lobby groups advocating, including within the parties themselves, in Washington. Different factions want different things. But it could be that Obama and even Merkel and Hollande are able to use it to their advantage, if indeed on the sidelines they can have not a particularly big stick because the US has said that it is not going to be supplying vast amounts of weaponry.

But if there is a possibility of the US supplying weaponry that my at least focus minds and deliver a sense of urgency. But were those weapons to be delivered of course it would be a terrible step of escalation. One would expect that those arming the rebels would similarly up their game, as well. Indeed we’ve seen the results elsewhere when weapons are poured into a combat zone such as Syria or Libya. It makes the situation much worse and it makes the effects of the war not just greater but also geographically more widespread throughout Ukraine, as well.

RT:The creation of a demilitarized zone seems to be a key part of the new plan. But this has been tried before and things didn't work out. What will be different this time round?

CS: This time around, if the early indications such as, for example, Hollande came out with over the weekend for the French side is that the demilitarized zone, a buffer zone, would be much larger than that originally suggested in Minsk back in September. As you currently say, that didn’t work. The fact is that this time there will be much greater resources and much greater effort needed to be put into establishing a buffer zone that is actually wider.

We were talking in Minsk in September around 30 km between the warring parties. This time they are talking anything between 50-70 km. This will require a much greater, how I see it, commitment on the ground. I don’t mean in terms of that they haven’t so far been politically committed to the process. Those monitors on the ground are doing a difficult job in very difficult circumstances. Nonetheless, their resources are thinly stretched. So in order to establish, and then police, observe and maintain a ceasefire buffer zone between the warring parties of what is now quite a wide geographical area will take a considerable input of resources from the OSCE countries, and of course those countries include Russia.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.