The sending of Ukrainian peacekeepers to Ivory Coast is a factor in preventing the escalation of a political conflict in this African country into an armed confrontation, according to Yuri Donskoy, a representative of the Soldiers of Peace International Association in Eastern Europe and a member of the public council under the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

He said that the approval by the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian president's decision on the participation of the Ukrainian peacekeeping contingent in providing operational support for the UN mission in Ivory Coast fully met the international commitments of Ukraine as a member of the United Nations.

"Ukraine is fulfilling a peacekeeping mission in neighboring Liberia and, according to a UN Security Council resolution, provided two helicopters to carry out the UN mission in Cote d'Ivoire," Donskoy said, UKRINFORM reported.

"In order to ensure the safety of this group, as well as to perform various other tasks of the mission, in particular, the transportation of the mission's personnel, support for humanitarian convoys and medical evacuations, Ukraine allocates three more Mi-24 helicopters with crews, staff officers, and communications officers," he added.

This is a preventive measure, according to the expert, and the conflicting parties should understand that the peacekeepers are protected and can use weapons in response.

A participant in peacekeeping operations, Oleksandr Dudka, said at a press conference that Ukraine's participation in UN peacekeeping operations was being properly funded by this organization, in particular, the Ukrainian Helicopter Detachment in Liberia earned USD 119 million in 2004-2010.

Donskoy, in turn, said that Ukraine's peacekeeping activities could be further transformed in the protection of Ukraine's economic interests, in particular, in the context of food security.

He also spoke in favor of establishing a special advisory group on peacekeeping activities under the Ukrainian president, because Ukraine has nearly 20 years of experience as a country participating in UN peacekeeping operations.

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