Airlift of NATO troops to Ukraine should be considered; U.N. Security Council meets on March 13 (links to video and press statements)

The Security Council met today to consider the grave threat to international peace and security represented by Russian aggression in the Ukraine including the military seizure of the Crimea.

Vladimir Putin has amassed such concentrated power that no one in an official position seems willing to oppose him. His decision to seize the Crimea by military force was reportedly taken by him and a very narrow circle of advisors which did not include the foreign minister or his representatives.

Putin now heads a rogue state and is accountable to no one, which places the world in a most precarious state given the fact that he commands thousands of nuclear weapons which, if a spark were to set off hostilities, could precipitate a nuclear exchange with wholly unforeseeable consequences.

Today the Security Council met to consider this delicate state of affairs, in which a Russian-orchestrated “referendum” is to be held in the Crimea on Sunday to decide whether to become part of Russia. Given the tightly choreographed scenario Putin is commanding, and clear indications from the Russian Duma, annexation by Russia is likely to follow within a matter of days. The fait accompli will then be achieved, with the only remaining question being whether Russian forces will move into other parts of the Ukraine.

Putin has adopted the worst agitprop techniques from Stalin’s times, using the “Big Lie” technique set forth by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf–and later put into practice in places like the Sudetenland.

While Europe and the U.S. have ruled out military action, one has to wonder whether an airlift of 10,000 or 20,000 NATO troops into the Ukraine in response to a request from Kiev for action in collective self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter might not help to bring Putin to his senses.

At today’s meeting of the Security Council, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk of the Ukraine strongly set forth what has happened and his appeal for assistance from the Security Council and the international community.

The webcast video of the Security Council meeting, as well as press statements by various delegates and questions and answers with the press, can be found here.

Putin has done the West and the other civilized nations of the world a great favor: He has ripped away the last illusions about his character and the nature of the Russian state under his leadership.

Although those who followed Syria and the perfidious diplomacy of Russia over the last three years may have harbored few illusions about Putin, as he supported Syria’s al-Assad in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity on a massive scale (over 140,000 dead, so far), now even the naive leaders who preferred “to work through the Russians” in seeking solutions in Syria must have been brought to their senses.

At this point, it should have become clear that Putin will not be persuaded by rational considerations. To prevent him from moving into eastern parts of the Ukraine, or beyond, serious consideration should now be given to moving NATO troops, or troops from some NATO countries, into the Ukraine. Such action would bolster Ukrainian defenses against a rogue state currently engaged in military intervention against its territory.

Without a countervailing force, it is hard to see what can stop Putin from pursuing whatever couse he in his madness may choose. In his mind perhaps, he may think he has little to lose. He has already destroyed the bases for commercial and economic relations with the West.

It is not reassuring that many of his actions appear delusional. Dictators with delusions of grandeur can be the most dangerous of them all. He certainly does not appear to be as clear-eyed and level-headed as Nikita Khrushchev was during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Like Julius Caesar, he has crossed the Rubicon. The entire edifice of his hold on power in Russia is now at stake. In such circumstances, one simply cannot predict what might happen, or what he might do.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Obervateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.