“A Russian separatist-planned referendum on independence would be a major obstacle to the Ukrainian presidential elections,” says Kanerva, who has recently returned to Finland from his post leading the OSCE delegation responsible for organising elections and observer operations in Ukraine.
Kanerva feels that should planned referendums in eastern Ukraine be allowed to continue, they might call into question the validity of the outcome of the presidential elections. Kanerva suspects that voters in support of succession from Ukraine and independence for their area would co-opt the presidential elections and therefore endanger their result.
In Kanerva’s opinion, the risk of civil war in Ukraine is a real one, as both sides have clearly upped their ante, especially in the eastern regions of Ukraine.
“Unfortunately, things there are smouldering under the surface and the confrontational stance is becoming more entrenched,” he says.
Kanerva believes that the international community must commit to doing their all to alleviate the crisis in Ukraine. He would not even exclude the possible intervention of civil or military crisis management operations.
“If the situation becomes even more difficult, then we are most assuredly talking about a crisis in which the need for international peacekeeping is necessary.”