Ukrainian peacekeepers have been involved in various peacekeeping missions around the world, including in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Ukraine contributed to the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992-1995, and later to the NATO-led Stabilization Force (SFOR) and European Union Force (EUFOR).
During the UNPROFOR mission, Ukrainian peacekeepers were deployed to the UN Protected Areas (UNPAs) and served alongside troops from other countries in efforts to monitor ceasefires, prevent the escalation of violence, and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid. In addition, Ukrainian sappers helped to clear landmines in the region.
Following the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995, Ukrainian peacekeepers participated in the implementation of the military aspects of the agreement, including monitoring demilitarization and weapons control. In 2003, Ukraine sent a company-sized contingent to serve with SFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in 2004, it contributed a platoon-sized unit to EUFOR.
Ukrainian peacekeepers in IFOR
The Peace Implementation Force (IFOR) was deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina for one year in December 1995 in accordance with the mandate. IFOR operated within the framework of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and their powers stemmed from UN Security Council Resolution No. 1031 of December 15, 1995. This gave them a mandate not only to maintain peace, but, if necessary, to implement it. In essence, IFOR was a peace-making operation, although it was more often called a peace-keeping operation.
The purpose of IFOR was to monitor the implementation of the military aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement, which ended the war in Bosnia. The main task of the IFOR forces was to guarantee a cessation of hostilities and to separate the armed forces of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina on one side and the Republika Srpska on the other.
IFOR forces supervised the transfer of territory between the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, the demarcation of borders between these entities, as well as the removal of heavy weapons to special areas for their storage.
As the situation on the ground improved, IFOR forces began providing support to organizations involved in overseeing the implementation of the civilian aspects of the Dayton Peace Agreement, including the Office of the High Representative, the OSCE and the UN.
The task of the IFOR forces was practically completed before the elections held in September 1996. As the situation still remained potentially volatile, and much needed to be done in the civilian sector, in December 1996 NATO agreed to deploy a new Stabilization Force (SFOR).
Ukrainian participation in SFOR
The Stabilization Force (SFOR) operated within the framework of Chapter VII of the UN Charter, and their powers stemmed from UN Security Council Resolution No. 1088 of December 12, 1996. As in the case of IFOR, it was a peace-making operation, although it was more often called a peace-keeping operation.
The main objective of SFOR forces was to create safe conditions for the civil and political reconstruction of the country. In particular, the SFOR contingent was responsible for deterring and preventing new hostilities, creating favorable conditions for the further development of the peace process, as well as providing support to civilian organizations participating in this process, selectively and taking into account the available forces and means.
SFOR's activities included a whole range of diverse tasks - from patrolling and guaranteeing security in the area, supporting defense reform and monitoring demining to arresting suspects in war crimes, as well as helping to create the necessary conditions for the return of refugees and displaced persons.
In December 1995, 240 OSB were transferred to the IED. In March 1997, 240 OSB were relocated from the city of Sarajevo to the settlement (n.p.) of Vrapčići (near the city of Mostar). Ukraine, as one of the largest contributors of military personnel, received an official invitation from the NATO leadership, authorized by the UN Security Council to conduct a peacekeeping operation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, to participate in the multinational forces.
In response to the invitation, in December 1995, the government of Ukraine approved the decision to provide a Ukrainian military unit of the Armed Forces - a separate special battalion numbering 550 servicemen - to the Force for the Implementation of the Agreement. In January 1996, Ukraine and NATO signed relevant agreements on Ukraine's participation in the IED operation. In February 1996, with the completion of the certification process of the Ukrainian battalion, it was transferred to the IED.
In connection with the expiration of the mandate of the IED in December 1996, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution No. 1088, according to which the deployment of the Multinational Stabilization Force (SFOR) was authorized for a period of 18 months as the successor to the IED. Among the main tasks entrusted to SFOR was the further implementation of the Dayton Agreement. The SFOR operation is intended to facilitate measures for the independent civilian development of Bosnia and Herzegovina, aimed at creating a situation in which the international military presence in the country will no longer be necessary.
Taking into account the significant contribution of Ukraine to the successful conduct of the IED operation and the high assessment of the professionalism of Ukrainian servicemen, the NATO leadership again officially invited our country to participate in the SFOR operation. In order to further strengthen the status of Ukraine as an influential participant in the process of settlement of the Yugoslav conflict and the newly created Euro-Atlantic security structure, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine in April 1997 adopted a resolution "On ensuring the activities of the Ukrainian contingent in the operation of the Multinational Stabilization Forces on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina." According to this resolution, a separate special battalion numbering 400 soldiers continued its stay on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of SFOR. In November 1999, by agreement with NATO, Ukraine withdrew its peacekeepers from Bosnia.
During the stay of 240 OSB in Sarajevo and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the personnel, in addition to peacekeeping tasks, participated in the reconstruction, reconstruction and restoration of the hospital and school, repair of roads, power lines, tram track and tram train, distribution of food to orphans and children , providing medical assistance to the local population, etc. The first tram that passed through the restored track was painted in yellow and blue. This was done in honor of Ukrainian peacekeepers. By the way, this tram track is the oldest in Europe.