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Maintaining a cool head

Mar 02,2014 - Last updated at Mar 02,2014

The fact that the UN Security Council held meetings, both open and behind closed doors, over the weekend to discuss the Ukrainian situation is somehow encouraging.

The intervention of the council on the fast deteriorating conflict in Ukraine is a test of its relevance.

By stepping in to defuse the escalating tension, which culminated in the ouster of president Victor Yanukovych and the deployment of Russian troops in the semi-autonomous region of Crimea, the UN Security Council could prove that it still has a crucial role in world affairs.

The fact that the interested parties are in a talking mood offers Moscow and Kiev the opportunity to end the dispute.

This is a time for international diplomacy to take its course, first by containing the crisis and then finding a way for Russia and Ukraine to reach an amicable settlement.

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power has proposed sending international monitors to observe the situation in Crimea and collect first-hand information.

Other members of the council endorsed the idea, since it offers an opportunity to have a close look at the events unfolding in Ukraine.

While the Ukrainian Ambassador to the UN Yuriy Sergeyev offered to discuss his country’s dispute with Russia and denied that his country is “at war” with its neighbour.

Russian envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin was less conciliatory and called on the new leadership in Kiev to rid itself of “radicals”. 

He also said that any Russian activities in Crimea were in keeping with Moscow’s existing arrangement with Ukraine on the deployment of military assets there.

Since the immediate parties to the problem seem to have signalled that they wish to hold more talks, an agreement on holding free and fair elections in Ukraine may be the best way out of a serious confrontation.

Meanwhile the UN must remain seized of the crisis to make sure that the sides do not edge closer to a military confrontation that may get other nations involved as well.

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