You know that the leadership of a country is truly worried if they pass a new law allowing foreign troops to be stationed within national borders, and that is exactly what has happened in Ukraine this week.
The Ukrainian parliament passed several amendments to state law that would allow for the “admission of the armed forces of other states on the territory of Ukraine.” Of note, the documents also specifically mention that the country may also host foreign weapons of mass destruction (ie, nukes).
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Decision to allow foreign troops in Ukraine was a close vote
A number of amendments to Ukrainian law were approved on Thursday by the Ukrainian parliament (the Verkhovna Rada), but it was a very close vote. With 226 required for a majority, the supporters of the bill including President Poroshenko managed to round up 240 votes to get it passed. The legislation was submitted to the parliament last month by Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk.
Political analysts highlight that the new law focuses on the provision of “international peacekeeping and security” assistance to Ukraine if the country makes a request.
Details on Ukraine allowing foreign troops in its territory
The new Ukrainian law also details that peacekeeping missions are to be deployed “on the basis of decision of the UN and/or the EU.”
Before this new law was passed, the presence of any international military forces on the territory of Ukraine could only occur through the adoption of a special law to be requested by the president. The new amendments “will create necessary conditions for deployment on the territory of Ukraine international peacekeeping and security” missions without needing additional legal authorization, according to an explanatory note attached to the draft bill.
The explanatory note goes on to specify that the presence of such armed forces in Ukraine “should ensure an early normalization of situation” in Donbass, saying that the troops would help “restore law and order and life, constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens” in the troubled areas of Donetsk and Lugansk.
Stationing of foreign weapons of mass destruction (nukes) is specifically authorized
Media sources note that published among the documents associated with the bill is a table that states: “potential carriers of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction are permitted under international agreement with Ukraine for short-term accommodation,” with the Ukrainian government providing control and security during the time that these weapons, including nukes, were stationed in the country.
Second amendment points finger at Russia
Also of note, the Verkhovna Rada also passed a separate amendment that banned “armed forces of states that unleash military aggression against Ukraine.” This is obviously a reference Russia, especially given the Rada’s statement back in January that called Russia an “aggressor”. However, the Rada has not yet approved a legally binding law specifically naming Russia as the aggressor.
Recent violence in Eastern Ukraine
ValueWalk reported on the massive buildup of Russian military equipment on the Ukraine border last week, so it’s not really surprising that the fighting in Eastern Ukraine has picked up dramatically this week.
CNN and other sources have reported that heavy artillery fire was seen Wednesday near the city of Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. Some observers are describing it as the worst fighting in the months since the wobbly ceasefire was declared.
According to the the Ukrainian general command, rebel separatists fired hundreds of rounds of heavy artillery from Donetsk toward the town of Mariinka early Wednesday. Mariinka, under the control of Ukrainian forces, is located astride a strategic highway, and is just hundreds of yards away from separatist-controlled territory.
The Ukrainian general command statement noted that at least 200 separatist militants attacked Ukrainian positions Wednesday, with a six hours fire fight. The government denied reports that 25 Ukrainian soldiers were wounded or that their any troops were surrounded.
On the rebel side, Eduard Basurin, a spokesman for the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, confirmed the ongoing battle in Mariinka, commenting that the fighting began because of “provocations” by the loyalist Ukrainians. Basurin continued to say that Ukrainian forces shelled the Petrovsky and Kirovsky districts in Donetsk on several occasions over the last few days.
Observers note that the intense battle around Marinka on Wednesday seems to have quieted down to an occasional artillery exchange by late Thursday.