According to Major General Serhiy Bezlushchenko, Chief of the General Staff's Centre for Current Operations, the Defence Ministry expects that in 2007 Ukrainian peacekeeping contingents abroad will be beefed up, Cabimnet's press office reported.

As he noted, Ukraine maintained five peacekeeping missions abroad, but for objective reasons three missions (to Lebanon, Sierra Leone and Iraq) had to be withdrawn.

It does not mean that Ukraine must confine its participation in international peacekeeping operations to just two current missions, to Liberia and Kosovo, Serhiy Bezlushchenko noted.

"I think, he went on, that shortly decisions will be made on increasing the number of Ukraine's peacekeeping missions abroad."

As the General maintained, peacekeepers will be necessary to stabilize the situation in Lebanon. Besides, it could not be altogether ruled out that Ukraine will send it military personnel to Sudan.

The UNO has suggested that medical, engineer, aviation units will be dispatched there, Serhiy Bezlushchenko noted.

In accordance with the National Program of the Ukrainian Armed Forces' development in 2006 - 2011, Ukraine may participate in four to five international peacekeeping missions, each battalion-strong, or one to two missions, each brigade-strong.

According to Serhiy Bezlushchenko, since Ukraine started participating in international peacekeeping missions a total of over 20,000 Ukrainian military servicemen have been on these.


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