The 250 Ukrainian soldiers who were part of the UN peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have now returned home to aid in the fight against Russian forces.
When the Ukraine’s aviation section announced its pullout in March, officials cautioned that the UN mission might be severely short on helicopters as a result.
These are crucial in the struggle against many rebel organizations headquartered in the dense jungles of eastern DR Congo.
About a third of the UN fleet was made up of the eight Ukrainian helicopters.
Ukraine had already withdrawn its forces from the second UN peacekeeping mission in which they had been stationed since the Russian incursion in February.
The UN force’s Brazilian commander, Gen. Marcos da Costa, expressed gratitude for “their 10 years of outstanding commitment” as the Ukrainians left the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
There is already strain on the UN mission in the DR Congo, Monusco.
It has received harsh criticism for not doing enough to bring about peace in the east, where a number of armed groups have been operating for three decades, killing, raping, and plundering the area’s abundant mineral wealth, including gold and diamonds.
In July, protesters ransacked UN buildings in eastern DR Congo cities, resulting in the deaths of 36 people, including four UN peacekeepers.
The mission is supposed to be winding down after 22 years in the nation, but there is no set date for when its operations will stop.
One of the 12 peacekeeping missions of the UN, it is also one of the biggest and most expensive.