Magazine article Europe-East

Esdp Missions : Russian Helicopters in Chad, Us Policemen in Kosovo

Magazine article Europe-East

Esdp Missions : Russian Helicopters in Chad, Us Policemen in Kosovo

Article excerpt

The Council of EU foreign ministers approved, on 13 October, the participation by two non-EU states in certain European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) operations. Russian troops and helicopters will participate in the EUFOR operation in Chad and American civilians in the EULEX rule of law mission in Kosovo. This participation, and the simultaneous nature of its approval, is not insignificant from a strategic point of view. It confirms the European Union's ability to incorporate the contributions of different states, opposed on the international scene, into peacekeeping operations under European command. It also confirms the single-minded approach of the 27 member states to two countries (Chad and Kosovo), where the European intervention is not easy either operationally or diplomatically and has sparked certain criticisms.

The Russian participation took a long time to obtain. Announced by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner at the end of last year, it was officially confirmed only recently. Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev signed, on 1 September, his country's agreement for the deployment to Chad of a contingent of at most 200 troops and four Mi-8MT type helicopters. With the conflict in Georgia, however, this participation became highly controversial. It was agreed in the Council's Secretariat-General and by the French EU Presidency to postpone a decision to a better time, after 10 October, the date set for the withdrawal of Russian troops from zones adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The mission to be carried out by the Russians is defined precisely and will be closely supervised. It will be limited to the transport of "members of EUFOR and MINURCAT" (the United Nations force) and of equipment, and to "rescue operations". It does not entail combat missions. The key point of the agreement - which took considerable negotiations between the Europeans and the Russians - is the chain of command. …

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