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10 Jun, 2013 12:56

Russian peacekeepers on Golan Heights would guarantee security – Pushkov

Russian peacekeepers on Golan Heights would guarantee security – Pushkov

Russia’s top foreign policy MP says Syria-Israel relations needed a “qualitatively new solution” and Russian peacekeepers could provide additional security guarantees.

The issue has not been yet solved, it is being considered. We must take some real action because we cannot exclude that the Syrian-Israeli topic would be involved in large-scale military action,” said Aleksey Pushkov who currently chairs the Lower House committee for international relations.

Speaking at a Moscow press conference on Monday the MP said it was too early to say that Vladimir Putin’s suggestion of placing Russian peacekeepers on the Golan Heights lacked perspectives or could not be implemented.

He added that it should not come as a surprise that the Israeli authorities would oppose this step, but warned about possible consequences. “Assad could be replaced by radical Islamists in comparison with whom Assad would seem an angel from heaven. The people who are now offering friendship to Israel would not necessarily see Israel as their partner when they come to power, rather they would see it as an enemy,” Pushkov told reporters.

The MP called upon Israeli leaders to pay more attention to the possible future scenarios in Syria and added that Russia could play a positive and stabilizing role in the region.

The idea of placing Russian peacekeepers on the Golan Heights was voiced by President Vladimir Putin on June 7, after it was announced that the Austrian contingent was withdrawing from the area as tension rose due to the internal crisis in Syria.

Such a move is against the UN-backed international agreement on the Golan Heights that forbids permanent members of the Security Council from participation in the peacekeeping force on the Syria-Israel border.

After UN confirmed this, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennadiy Gatilov wrote in his Twitter that “One should not quote limitation that date 40 years back. The task of maintaining peace and stability call for a different political thinking”.

Days after the suggestion was made public, the Russian military announced on Monday that the Airborne Troops had formed a separate peacekeeping brigade, specially designed to act as peacekeepers under the aegis of the United Nations or the Russia-led CSTO security bloc. The brigade received the status of a peacekeeping unit on June 1, 2013, said Vladimir Shamanov, the commander of the Russian Airborne Troops.