Archive for the ‘Barack Obama’ Category

Heirs to Daladier and Chamberlain? The German and French appeasers of today should call off the “Munich II” peace negotiations with Vladimir Putin; Immediate harsh sanctions are required; Individual countries should send military contingents to the Ukraine to assist in “collective self-defense”

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

We do not need a “Munich II” conference led by German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, in Berlin or anywhere else, to offer up “concessions” in exchange for respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Ukraine.

What we do need is for the EU and the U.S. to carry out their threats that they would impose increasingly harsh “stage 3″ sanctions if Putin and Russia did not halt their invasion of the Ukraine.

The negotiations between the foreign ministers of Russia, Germany, France and the Ukraine in Berlin are reminiscent of the Munich “Peace” Conference, which culminated on September 30-October 1, 1938 with the signing of the infamous “Munich Pact”—by which France and Great Britain broke their treaty commitments to defend Czechoslovakia and gave their blessing to Adolf Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland at the barrel of a gun — a threatened military invasion on October 1.

The talks today in Berlin led nowhere, as one might have predicted.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the SPD foreign minister of the grand coalition government led by CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel, has exhausted the negotiating possibilities for achieving a peaceful solution in the Ukraine that respects the territorial integrity and political independence of that country.

His efforts now resemble those of Kofi Annan in Syria who, after Bashar al-Assad had broken every agreement, failed to comply with all the ceasefire provisions of U.N. Security Council resolutions, and even shot at the U.N. UNMIS onservers, returned to Damascus to meet with al-Assad one more time to explore possibilities for a diplomatic soution to the crisis, and then reported that the talks were “promising”.

Steinmeier sprach von einem “schwierigen Gespräch”. “Aber ich glaube und ich hoffe, dass wir in einzelnen Punkten Fortschritte erreicht haben”, fügte er hinzu. Welche Fortschritte das sein sollen, blieb offen. Gesprochen wurde laut Steinmeier aber über Wege zu einem möglichen Waffenstillstand, eine verbesserte Kontrolle der ukrainisch-russischen Grenze und die humanitäre Unterstützung von notleidenden Zivilisten im Krisengebiet.

–”Ukraine-Konflikt: Kein Durchbruch bei Krisentreffen in Berlin; Fast fünf Stunden dauerte das Krisentreffen in Berlin, bei dem Frank-Walter Steinmeier eine Vermittlung zwischen Russland und der Ukraine versuchte. Dies ist zunächst gescheitert. Der Außenminister gibt aber die Hoffnung nicht auf,” Der Spiegel, August 18, 2014 (00:27 Uhr).

There is only one acceptable solution to the crisis caused by Russian aggression in the Ukraine, including its ongoing invasion of that country.

That solution is for Vladimir Putin and Russia to cease their aggression, and to cease furnishing military training, weapons, fighters and other support to the so-called separatists, which they themselves sent into the eastern Ukraine, and which have been operating under their direction and control.

We do not need a “Munich II” conference led by German Foreign Minister Steinmeier, in Berlin or anywhere else, to offer up “concessions” in exchange for respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the Ukraine.

What we do need is for the EU and the U.S. to carry out their threats that they would impose increasingly harsh “stage 3″ sanctions if Putin and Russia did not halt their invasion of the Ukraine.

They haven’t halted that invasion.

The moment for really harsh sanctions against Russia is now.

Moreover, because NATO and the EU are immobilized due to the pacifists and appeasers among their leaders’ ranks, individual nations should dispatch troops to the Ukraine to assist that country in response to its appeal for measures of collective self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

Today is August 17, three days short of the 46th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 20, 1968.

If the Russians are going launch an all-out invasion of the Ukraine, which western military leaders have warned for some time is “a high probability”, the perfect time for that invasion would be August 20, 2014.

In the meantime, discussions with Russia should be removed from the leadership of the pacifists and appeasers of Germany and France, and taken up in the U.N. Security Council in public sessions. These should be held continuously until the Russian aggression stops.

A resolution condemning Russia should be tabled and put to a vote.

After a Russian veto, a similar resolution should be tabled in the General Assembly, where all member nations should be called upon to speak, explaining why or why not they are voting to uphold the most fundamental provision of the U.N. Charter, Article 2 paragraph 4, which prohibits “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”.

The territorial integrity of the Ukraine is a matter of grave concern to every member of the United Nations.

The “Munich II Conference” with Putin should be called off. Countries should rally to the collective self-defense of the Ukraine by all measures, including the sending of troops.

And the foreign ministers of Germany and France should stop competing for the mantle of Edouard Daladier of France and Neville Chamberlain of England, and their infamous place in history as the appeasers who sold out Czechoslovakia at Munich in 1938.

The Trenchant Observer

Russia’s invasion of Eastern Ukraine continues; Pacifists and appeasers in the West want to “negotiate” with Putin

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

A telling comment by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier could stand as the epitaph of the current generation of leaders who have responded to Russian invasion of the Ukraine with pacifism and appeasement.

The incursion of a column of 23 Armored Rersonnel Carriers into the Ukraine Thursday night was not an invasion, he said, but just part of the unfortunately routine actions of Russia supplying arms and equipment (and men) to support the separatists in the Donbass region of the Ukraine.

Other ministers appeared to play down the significance of the Russian incursion. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said it may represent an “unfortunately normal” event on the border of war-torn eastern Ukraine.

–Matthew Dalton, “EU Foreign Ministers Say Russia May Face Tougher Sanctions;
Foreign Ministers’ Statement Says the Decision Depends on Their Assessment of Moscow’s Latest Actions in Ukraine,” Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2014 (1:48 p.m. ET).

What hoops the human mind can leap through to avoid confronting military intervention with force — or even only economic force!

When there are armed burglars in the house, it’s probably not the best move to engage them in conversation while one of them continues to go through your belongings and put those of value into a sack, while his colleague keeps a gun pointed at your head.

With Putin, what is there to talk about?

Is it wise policy to negotiate with a terrorist?

What have all the negotiations by the West with Putin gained?

Who has been achieving their objectives, Putin or the West?

See

UKRAINE; Separatisten bestätigen Rüstungslieferung aus Russland
30 Panzer und 1.200 Kämpfer habe Moskau geschickt, sagt der Regierungschef der Separatisten. Das Video war auf einer Internetseite aufgetaucht, Die Zeit, 16. August 2014 (18:34 Uhr).

Today is not a time for pleading with the aggressor to desist, to negotiate with him how he can keep his insurrection in the Ukraine going so the country cannot join the EU or NATO, and how best to resume business as usual, while tacitly acknowledging that he has taken the Crimea by force and you aren’t going to do anything about it.

The news report cited above states that the new leader of the “separatists” has claimed in a video on a separatist website that they have received 30 tanks and 1200 men as reinforcements to fight the Ukrainian forces.

This is what you get when the President of the United States is a pacifist and appeaser, with a soft place in his heart for Russia, when the President of France is willing to sell out NATO and Europe to complete a 1.3 billion Euro sale of warships to Russia, and when the SPD foreign minister of Angela Merkel’s CDU-led grand coalition is unwilling to criticize former SPD Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder for his business dealings with Putin and Russia, and his public apologies and understanding for Putin’s behavior.

Sadly, the West is on vacation, or “out to lunch”. Putin continues his military invasion of the eastern Ukraine, while distracting the world’s attention through the drama of his “humanitarian aid” convoy now on the border of the Ukraine near Luhansk.

With the pacifist and appeasment leaders we in the West now have, we can only feel powerless, and great sympathy for all the intelligent men and women who were similarly powerless as they watched Germany and Hitler move down the path of appeasement that led to World War II, and the loss of over 50 million lives.

For an American, it is particularly galling to see an American president in power who is clueless and incompetent, and whose appeasement of Putin first in Syria and now in the Ukraine has much to do with the breakdown in international peace and security we are currently witnessing in many countries of the world.

Obama is the heir of Roosevelt and Truman, of Eisenhower and Kennedy, and he doesn’t have a clue, and won’t for his remaining two years in power.

Well, it is at least worth saying once again, in this dialogue des sourds:

The only language Putin and the Russians understand is the language of actions.

The actions that are now urgently required, as the Russian invasion of the eastern Ukraine continues, are:

1) immediate imposition of really hard-hitting “stage 3″ sanctions against Russia, including a ban on all existing defense contracts, and an immediate ban on all financing of Russian activities, including short-term financing of less than 90-days duration;

2) the immediate provision of serious military training, weapons and equipment to the Ukraine; and

3) immediate moves by NATO to forward deploy large numbers of troops to countries bordering on Russia.

Otherwise, our hopes for the future will be lost, as Vladimirr Putin will continue to dominate the world’s attention through policies of aggression, and defiance of the U.N, Charter’s most basic provisions prohibiting the threat or use of force.

The Trenchant Observer

Ukraine attacks Russian armored column which entered Donbass Thursday night; August 8 (2014) Security Council meeting on Ukraine — Trancript (U.N. Doc. S/PV.7239) and links to webcast

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Ukrainian military forces have engaged the Russian armored column which entered the Ukraine near Luhansk Thursday evening, and according to Kiev destroyed at least part of it.

See Michael Birnbaum, “Ukraine forces destroy most of a column of Russian military vehicles, president says, Wasington Post, August 15, 2014 (2:02 p.m.).

Overt Russian military intervention, as occurred Thursday night when a column of Armored Personnel Carriers and related equipment crossed over the border into the Ukraine near “separatist” controlled areas including Luhansk, represents an overt act of war.

The incursion constitutes a flagrant violation of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, which prohibits “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

Russian military intervention in the Ukraine was discussed at the U.N. Security Council meeting on August 8, 2014. The statements of the representatives (see links to Transcript and Webcast, below) are quite revealing in terms of what is going on in the Donbass, and the illegality of Russian military intervention under the U.N. Charter and international law.

See the minutes of the U.N. Security Council meeting on the Ukraine, August 8, 2014, here.

Links to the Webcast of the meeting, in both English and the original language of the speaker, as well as the Press Release on the meeting, are found here.

The Security Council should reconvene in emergency session immediately.

Delegates should set forth clear evidence regarding Russian military intervention in the eastern Ukraine, both by irregular and by regular forces, and table a resolution condemning the Russian invasion.

While Russia will surely veto the resolution, a vote on it will force other members to take a position. China should be lobbied very hard by EU, NATO and other civilized countries to at least abstain on the vote.

Defending Russian aggression in the Ukraine is not in the long-term interests of China, a rising global power with important responsibilities for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Just because Russia has trashed its “brand” through its overt policies of aggression is no reason for China, which has an increasingly attractive “brand” throughout the world, to do likewise.

In the meantime, Western countries should actively press countries which abstained on the last General Assembly resolution on the Ukraine, including the other BRICS countries besides China, to vote in favor of a new General Assembly resolution condemning Russia’s military intervention in the country.

Once this lobbying has lined up the votes in the General Assembly, the Security Council resolution can be put to a vote. Following the Russian veto of that resolution, a similar resolution should be taken up for consideration and put to a vote in the General Assembly.

In the meantime, the U.S. and the EU should adopt further “stage 3″ sanctions (including a ban on all existing defense contracts), and begin supplying serious military training, arms and equipment to the Ukraine.

The “containment” of Russia’s xenophobic nationalism and aggression must begin now, in earnest.

All declarations and promises from Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials should simply be ignored, unless promises can be specifically monitored and verified as they are implemented, in real time.

Russian war propaganda should likewise be ignored, except that investigations into whether such “propaganda for war” constitutes an international crime should be opened and vigorously pursued.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Observateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

Russian military vehicles violate territorial integrity of Ukraine, crossing into Donbass near Luhansk; Whether invasion follows may depend on immediate response of the West

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Developing

A column of Russian miltary vehicles including Armored Personnel Carriers (APC’s) have crossed the border into the Donbass area of the Ukraine near Luhansk.

This action constitutes an open and flagrant violation of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter. Members of the U.N. Security Council should convoke an immediate emergency meeting of the Council to lay out evidence of the border violation, and table a resolution condemning this act of war.

In the past, Vladimir Putin has probed for weaknesses and pulled back when he encountered strong opposition. Whether a full invasion follows the current incursion may depend on the force with which the West reacts and the strength of the actions they immediately take.

See

(1) By Roland Oliphant, Kamensk-Shakhtinsky and Tom Parfitt (in Kharkiv), “Russian armoured vehicles and military trucks cross border into Ukraine
Exclusive: Telegraph witnesses Russian armoured vehicles and military trucks cross the border from Russia into Ukraine, ” The Telegraph, August 14, 2014 (8:15 PM BST).

“A column of armoured vehicles and military trucks crossed the border from Russia into Ukraine on Thursday night, in the first confirmed sighting of such an incident by Western journalists.”

(2) Shaun Walker (on the Russia-Ukraine border), “Russian military vehicles enter Ukraine as aid convoy stops short of border; Column of 23 armoured personnel carriers and support vehicles approach the border, while 280 trucks come to halt separately,” The Guardian, August 14, 2014 (15.38 EDT).

The Guardian saw a column of 23 armoured personnel carriers, supported by fuel trucks and other logistics vehicles with official Russian military plates, travelling towards the border near the Russian town of Donetsk – about 200km away from Donetsk, Ukraine.

After pausing by the side of the road until nightfall, the convoy crossed into Ukrainian territory, using a rough dirt track and clearly crossing through a gap in a barbed wire fence that demarcates the border. Armed men were visible in the gloom by the border fence as the column moved into Ukraine. Kiev has lost control of its side of the border in this area.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Observateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

Commentary: Putin and Russia, the Ukraine, and Appeasement by the West

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Boris Wischnewskij recalls, in an Op-Ed in the Süddeutscher Zeitung on August 14, Winston Churchill’s terse note to Neville Chamberlain upon the latter’s return from Munich, where he had agreed to Hitler’s annexation of the Sudetenland. Wrote Churchill:

“You had the choice between war and disgrace. You have chosen disgrace and will get war.” (Translation from the German)

See Boris Wischnewskij (Gastbeitrag), “Putin unter Druck: Unterschätzte Macht des knurrenden Magens,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 14. August 2014 (07:21 Uhr).

“Die Beliebtheit des russischen Präsidenten stützt sich auf TV-Propaganda. Doch sobald die gar nicht so wohlhabende Mehrheit begreift, dass man vom Mitfiebern nicht satt wird, dass man den Kühlschrank nicht an den Fernseher anschließen kann – dann wird Putin in den Umfragen abstürzen.”

Wischnewskij concludes his article, which analyzes how Putin’s popularity could fall as the economic effects of his aggression are felt, with a comment on the West’s attempted appeasement of Putin, following Russia’s invasion and annexation of the Crimea. He writes:

Als Russland nun dabei war, sich die Krim zurückzuholen, reagierte der Westen schlapp, man versuchte, Putin zu beschwichtigen. In diesem Frühling fühlten sich manche russische Oppositionelle an 1938 erinnert, an den sogenannten Anschluss von Sudetenland und Österreich, an das Münchner Abkommen.

Churchill schrieb 1938 an Chamberlain nach dessen Rückkehr aus München: “Sie hatten die Wahl zwischen Krieg und Schande. Sie haben sich für die Schande entschieden und werden den Krieg bekommen.”

An diesen Satz muss ich in diesen Tagen öfter denken.

As we follow the progress of the 280 trucks dispatched from an army base near Moscow to deliver “humanitarian assistance” to Luhansk, Donetsk and the Donbass, we need to bear in mind that since the invasion of the Crimea we have witnessed from Putin and the Russians an unbroken chain of lies, broken promises, and war propaganda bearing little relation to the truth. At the same time, the irregular forces Putin dispatched to the eastern Ukraine are responsible for a lawless reign of terror in areas under their control.

We have absolutely no reason to believe anything Putin or the Russians say or promise. Any undertakings with them must be made subject to strict outside monitoring and verification.

The Trenchant Observer

Russian truck convoy nears Ukraine, amid confusion; Igor Girkin (aka Igor Strelkov) reported as seriously wounded; Putin’s triumphant return to the Crimea — with link to maps of conflict zone

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest and Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in what I must call the Soviet sphere, and all are subject in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and, in many cases, increasing measure of control from Moscow.

–Winston Chuchill, “Sinews of Peace” speech, Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, March 5, 1946.

Latest News and Opinion

See

(1) Neil MacFarquhar, “Confusion and Alarm as Russian Aid Convoy Heads to Ukraine,” New York Times, August 13, 2014.

Regarding Igor Girkin (alias: Igor Strelkov), MarFarquhar reports the following:

The dispute over the convoy comes as Kiev is bearing down militarily on the separatist rebels — one of whose leaders, Igor Strelkov, was badly wounded on Wednesday, Russian news media reported — forcing many of them to retreat into the region’s two major cities, Donetsk and Luhansk, which they control.

The timing of this report on Girkn by Russian media is a bit suspicious, coming only days after the resignation of the President of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Borodai, on August 7, 2014.

(2) Masha Gessen (op-ed), “Food import ban means Russia is fully at war with the West, Wasington Post, August 12, 2014.

(Masha Gessen is a Russian American journalist and the author of “The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin.”)

Background

See also the following articles by The Trenchant Observer:

(1) “What if Russian truck convoy enters into Ukraine without Kiev’s authorization?” August 12, 2014.

(2) “Putin’s Trojan Horse: Military aggressor sends military-style aid convoy to Ukraine as its irregular forces are encircled,” August 12, 2014.

(3) “NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Russian military intervention in Ukraine ‘a high probability’”, August 11, 2014.

Putin’s Triumphant Return to the Crimea

Like a triumphant Roman emperor returning to Rome, Vladimir Putin returned to the Crimea today for a great Russian celebration of the Russian invasion and (purported) annexation of the Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

He was accompanied by the entire government leadership and 200 members of the Duma (parliament) including the leaders of all political parties.

See Moritz Gathmann (Moskau), “Besuch in Sewastopol: Putins patriotische Krim-Festspiele,” Der Spiegel, 13. August 2014 (17:48 Uhr).

The event, which continues through August 14 when Putin is scheduled to make a major speech at Yalta, signals the assumption of near absolute power by the new Russian “Leader”.

The cult of Putin, and the extraordinary degree to which he has successfully used aggression and xenophobic nationalism to consolidate his power, is becoming reminiscent of the role of Adolf Hitler in the Third Reich, summarized in the endlessly repeated slogan,

“Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer!”

See, e.g.,

(1) “The virus of nationalism and military aggression: Adolf Hitler in Vienna, March, 1938; Vladimir Putin in Sevastopol,” The Trenchant Observer, June 30, 2014.

The Leader of a nation with large numbers of nuclear weapons, who with his nation and its leadership has rejected the West, and the bedrock principles of the U.N. Charter and international law, has become an extremely dangerous threat to the national security of every member of NATO, the EU, and the civilized nations of the world.

Appeasement has failed.

Now we must face the lawless nation and its Leader that the pacifism and appeasement of the West, in the face of Russian aggression in the Crimea and the Ukraine, has encouraged and enabled to gain force.

The Trenchant Observer

What if Russian truck convoy enters into Ukraine without Kiev’s authorization?

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

For background, see “Putin’s Trojan Horse: Military aggressor sends military-style aid convoy to Ukraine as its irregular forces are encircled,” The Trenchant Observer, August 12, 2014.

280 Russian trucks, apparently military trucks painted white with no license plates or identifting insignia, are headed south from Moscow toward the Ukraine to deliver “humanitarian aid” to the population in the Donbass region, including Donetsk and Luhansk. These two cities are the last remaining “separatist” strongholds. They are coming under intense military pressure from Ukrainian military forces as the latter tighten their nooses around the encircled cities.

The ICRC, the EU, the Ukraine, and even the U.S. are concerned about not allowing the trucks into the Ukraine unless they comply with certain conditions: 1) entry only through Ukraine-controlled border crossings; 2) customs inspections; and 3) unloading and delivery to the ICRC for distbution under its auspices and according to its criteria to the population in the eastern Ukraine.

No matter what the Russians say they will do, their record of honoring what they promise, and the sovereignty of the Ukraine, leaves everything up in the air.

What is likely to happen is that some part of the truck convoy will be diverted for direct entry into the Ukraine through border posts or other territory not controlled by Kiev.

Putin will have then by this method created new “facts on the ground”.

What is the West doing to prevent this from happening?

Remember, this is a new form of “stealth warfare” adopted by the Russians, which is characterized by deception and lies.

Is the Ukraine prepared to use air power to prevent the convoy or portions of it from entering Ukrainian territory without authorization? Do they have the means, or can others provide them with the means, to overcome the sophisticated air defense systems which Russia has supplied to the so-called “separatist” forces?

In a number of ways, this convoy of Russian trucks, whose contents are unknown and which are bearing down on the Ukrainian frontier, is reminiscent of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, when Soviet ships carrying nuclear missiles were bearing down on Cuba.

But this time, instead of John F. Kennedy using his Executive Committee to consider all the angles, explore all the options, and recommend urgent actions, President Obama is off on his two-week holiday on Martha’s Vineyard (an island in Massachusetts), where his primary focus appears to be on his game of golf.

NATO and Russia are only a few steps away from being involved in a direct military confrontation. Nikita Kruschev miscalculated in 1962. So could Putin in 2014. Moreover, in situations fraught with risk, accidents and other unexpected things can happen.

If the Russian convoy or part of it enters the Ukraine without Kiev’s approval, what is anyone going to do about it?

More to the point, other than making verbal threats, what is anyone doing now to prevent such an illegal entry into Ukrainian territory from taking place?

Are we going to wake up Thursday morning with white Russian trucks in the Donbass, having entered the Ukraine in defiance of Kiev’s conditions and without its authorization?

Viewing the overall Russian preparations for an invasion, the very recent perfidy of Putin and other Russian officials in misrepresenting what was said in different telephone conversations with Western, international, and Ukrainian officials vis-a-vis the convoy, and other developments that fit into a larger pattern, does anyone truly believe that Russia will stop these trucks from entering the Ukraine until their passports have been stamped? Will it stop the trucks’ progress until their cargoes have been inspected, off-loaded, and turned over to the ICRC for distribution under international auspices?

Does the ICRC even have the vehicles and equipment lined up that will be required for delivery of water and other supplies? It is hard to imagine how they could, as Russia has deliberately withheld information on what is in the trucks.

It looks like there is going to be a lot of trouble as these trucks approach the Ukrainian border.

Could that distract President Obama from focusing on his golf swing, or re-introducing American military personnel and operations into Iraq?

Is anyone in a high position, in Washington, Brussels, or European capitals, paying close attention to these events, hour by hour, as they unfold?

Is there any established mechanism for coordination of allied actions and responses to Russian actions?

So far, it looks like the pacifists and appeasers in the West haven’t thought about much, or very much thought things through. They are in reactive mode, and haven’t even begun to spell out the consequences for Russia of those trucks crossing that border without Ukrainian authorization.

They are on vacation.

While the future of the international political and legal oder hangs in the balance.

The Trenchant Observer

Putin’s Trojan Horse: Military aggressor sends military-style aid convoy to Ukraine as its irregular forces are encircled

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Developing

See

(1) Julia Smirnova, “Die Angst vor den weissen Lastwagen ohne Nummernschild,” Die Welt 12. August 2014 (19:33 Uhr).

(2) Stefan Braun, Javier Cáceres und Cathrin Kahlweit, “Russlands Hilfstranport: Geheimnisvoller Konvoi mit unbekannter Ladung, Suddeutsche Zeitung, 12. August 2014 (18:16 Uhr).

“Ist das der Beginn einer russischen Intervention? Oder ein PR-Coup von Präsident Putin? Was auch immer in den 280 Lastwagen steckt, die in Moskau losgeschickt wurden – es wird nicht unkontrolliert zu den notleidenden Menschen in die Ostukraine gelangen.”

(3) “NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Russian military intervention in Ukraine a high probability’” The Trenchant Observer, August 11, 2014.

(4) “Russian invasion of Ukraine viewed as increasingly likely,” The Trenchant Observer, August 10, 2014.

(5) “Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine possibly imminent; Russia lays out “facts” to justify “humanitarian intervention”, masses combat-ready troops on Ukrainian border, The Trenchant Observer, August 6, 2014.

Vladimir Putin has brilliantly deployed Russian troops and irregulars in his ongoing war against the territorial integrity and political independence of the Ukraine, a sovereign and independent European country. These actions, including the invasion and annexation of the Crimea, have constituted flagrant violations of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, the cornerstone of the international political and legal order established at the end of World War II, in 1945.

Europe and America have responded to these actions with the pacifism and appeasement that characterized the responses of France and Great Brtiain to Hitler’s acts of lawlessness and aggression, beginning with the militarization of the Rhineland in 1936 (in violation of the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919), soon followed by the forced annexation of Austria in March, 1938, the forced annexation of the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia in October, 1938, the invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia in March, 1939, and the invasion of Poland in September, 1939.

At this late hour, the West slumbers, still.

Even the “stage 3″ sanctions adopted by the EU and the U.S. in late July have had no effect on Putin’s stealth invasion of the eastern Ukraine.

Now the Russian Dictator has devised a new ruse to justify military intervention in the Donbass in order to prevent the defeat of the irregular forces he sent there. He sent these irregular forces into the Ukraine in an effort to in effect seize territory, and either open a land route to supply the Crimea, conquered by military invasion in February, 2014, or at least to freeze the conflict with his forces controlling the Donbass.

The new ruse is a Trojan Horse, which will either bring a Russian (military) presence inside the Ukraine (think of “little green men” in military trucks painted white, without license plates, delivering aid). Or, if the convoy is stopped before entering the country, it will provide a justification to his domestic audience for an overt military invasion of the Ukraine.

Each new development appears to be simply the execution of one more step in Putin’s well-orchestrated plan to prepare for and to invade the eastern Ukraine.

His actions are cunning, as befits a former KGB officer who rose to the preeminent position of authoritarian “Leader” of the Russian Federation.

What can the West do?

Russia is in the grip of xenophobic nationalism and policies of aggression, with the emotions of the population whipped up by Putin’s propaganda machine and control of state television and other media.

The “rational actor fallacy” must be avoided.

Actions must be taken not to change Putin’s calculations of costs and benefits, but rather to pierce the delusional bubble in which he and his countrymen find themselves, and to change the “facts on the ground” with which they must contend.

That will require very forceful actions.

The following actions are urgently recommended:

1. Convoke immediate meetings of the heads of state of NATO and of the EU member countries;

2. Adopt, with immediate effect, a ban on all financing tranactions with Russia, including short-term financing of less than 90-days duration (excluded under the “stage 3″ sanctions imposed in July);

3. Extend the bans on defense sector deals and weapons deliveries to include all transactions, including existing contracts (e.g., for French delivery of two Mistral-class warships to Russia);

4. Prepare much stronger sanctions to be imposed automatically if Putin invades the Ukraine, with his Trojan Horse or by any other means.

5. Decide upon and begin sending a large NATO training mission to the Ukraine.

6. Immediately begin arms and weapons systems deliveries to the government in Kiev.

The international political and legal order which has protected the world from all-out major wars since 1945 (surviving both Korea and Vietnam) cannot be given up without a fight.

Is there a fool left who believes Vladimir Putin is acting in good faith?

Is there a fool left who believes anything Vladimir Putin says, or anything any Russian official says?

Russia under Putin will never be able to return to “business as usual” with the West. In view of Putin’s actions since February, this is not even thinkable.

“Containment” of Russia must begin.

It must begin immediately.

The Trenchant Observer

REPRISE — Putin’s wager: Russia’s rogue authoritarianism versus fundamental human rights and the existing international political and legal order

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Russia and the Ukraine—The Big Picture

Originally published April 24, 2014

In a fatal error, Putin challenges the modern postwar international political and legal order

It is historically ironic, and from Vladimir Putin’s point of view perhaps tragic, that Russia’s crowning achievement at the Sochi Winter Games culminated precisely when the Yanukovych government in the Ukraine began to stumble and fall. On the other hand, Putin had only himself to blame.

Since then, Vladimir Putin has overreached, and made the fatal mistake of undertaking actions that put Russia permanently at odds with the world’s international political, legal and economic order.

While formally created during and at the end of World War II (1939-1945), the system has roots that go back to Hugo Grotius and the Thirty Years’ War of 1618-1648. The idea for the United Nations can be traced back to the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907, and the Covenant of the League of Nations and the founding of the League in 1919.

Since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, the system of international law established within the framework of the United Nations Charter, including its bedrock principle prohibiting the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, has become the very fabric of international society, constituting principles that have been repeatedly accepted in countless treaties and agreements as binding norms of international law by virtually every country.

Now along comes Russia’s new Dictator to suppress within Russia fundamental human rights such as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to a fair trial; to challenge the entire structure of the existing international political and legal order by invading the Ukraine, seizing the Crimea by military force and annexing it to Russia; and now threatening to invade the eastern Ukraine if the government of that country responds to Russia’s initial invasion by special forces and seizure of government buildings by force with its own necessary and legal use of force to reassert its control over its own government offices and territory.

Putin wants Russia to be able to invade the eastern Ukraine with special forces, and then to be able to decry any attempt by the Ukrainian government to restore public order as “crimes” against the Ukrainian constitution. He does so without mentioning his own crimes against the Russian constitution by suppressing civil liberties, or his own use of brutal force in putting down the rebellion in Chechnya–which included the commission of war crimes on a very large scale.

Putin and his lieutenant, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, accuse the Ukraine and the West of violating international law, as they sit on the spoils of Russian aggression in the Crimea, and openly threaten military intervention in the Eastern Ukraine if that country’s government moves with force to restore public order and the ordinary functioning of government institutions.

Like the case of Northern Cyprus, invaded by Turkey in 1967, or East Timor which was invaded and annexed by Indonesia in 1975, Russian invasion and annexation of the Crimea will never be accepted by other nations.

Nor will any further conquests in the eastern Ukraine, or of independent countries which formerly made up the Soviet Union, ever be recognized.

An invasion of the eastern Ukraine will indeed produce results, just not those Putin in his demented shortsightedness seeks to secure.

An immediate result will be stiffer sanctions from the U.S. and the EU, which moreover are likely to grow in intensity over time.

An invasion is highly likely to produce permanent enmity toward Russia in the Ukraine, and to strengthen the desire of Ukrainians, East and West, to join the European Union and, if necessary to protect their independence in the future, to join NATO as well (whatever time may be required to achieve this result).

An invasion is also likely to produce energetic responses from NATO aimed at Russia, if not immediately then at least over the intermediate term. To counter potential Russian aggression, large forces of American and other NATO-country troops are likely to eventually be moved from Germany to forward bases in Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The current drawdown of American forces from Europe, in time, could be reversed.

Europe will probably also undertake vigorous policies to reduce its consumption of Russian gas and oil, though this may take a few years.

Putin’s wager is that his domestic repression and suppression of freedom of the press, free elections, the right to a fair trial and other fundamental human rights will be a model others will want to emulate, or at least be willing to ignore.

His wager that wars of aggression involving military invasions and the annexation of conquered territories will not matter to other countries, which will be happy to look the other way and continue doing business with Russia, is not likely to be successful in the middle or long term.

To be sure, the slowness with which democracies respond to military challenges may appear to be acqiescence or appeasement in the short term, but in the intermediate to longer term the combined economic and military strength of the U.S., NATO, Japan and their allies will be able to contain Russian military expansionism while depriving Russia of vital opportunities to join the first ranks of nations in a wired and interconnected world.

Finally, Putin’s wager overlooks the vital forces within Russia itself, symbolized by courageous dissidents such as Andrei Sakharov, or even Communist party leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. These forces have visions of Russia that are deeply at odds with Putin’s embodiment of autocratic dictatorship at home, and wars of aggression abroad.

Putin’s wager may in fact hasten the day when his greatest fears are realized, the day the Maidan comes to Red Square.

The Trenchant Observer

Reports that Merkel is negotiating a settlement with Putin that would recognize Russian annexation of the Crimea, in violation of peremptory norms of international law

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Forbes describes reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin are working on “a closed-door peace plan” that would recognize Russian annexation of the Crimea in exchange for securing the border between Russia and the Ukraine. According to Forbes,

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian president Vladimir Putin are reportedly working on a closed-door peace plan that involves securing the border and acceptance of Russia’s March 17 annexation of Crimea, a former Ukrainian autonomous region in the Black Sea. Germany is keen on ending this ordeal. Russia supplies 40% of Germany’s imported natural gas.

–”How The Ukraine-Russia Crisis Might End,” Forbes, August 5, 2014 (4:23PM).

If there is any substance to the reports, Merkel would be well-advised to bring in her international lawyers from the foreign ministry, who might be able to educate her regarding the fact that any such agreement, to recognize the acquisition of territory acquired by the illegal use of force in violation of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, would be null and void under the international law principle of jus cogens.

Jus cogens is mandatory or peremptory law, from which there can be no derogation by agreement. It is universally recognized that Article 2(4) is a norm of jus cogens under international law.

On a political level, it is distressing in the extreme that due to President Barack Obama’s inability to lead the Atlantic Alliance, Merkel and other European leaders feel free to engage in free-lancing by negotiating directly with the aggressor, Vladimir Putin, instead of adopting a united front among NATO, the EU, the U.S., and other allies.

The results are clear to see.

So far, Putin has been able to achieve his objectives in pursuit of policies characterized by xenophobic nationalism and aggression, war propaganda in the mold of the Third Reich and Joseph Stalin, and the coordination of thugs, mercenaries and irregular Russian forces in the eastern Ukraine who have systematically violated the fundamental human rights of the inhabitants of the region.

If Merkel thinks she can cut a deal with Putin that recognizes the military invasion and annexation of the Crimea, she had better study some basic principles of international law before proceeding further. She might also reflect on the fact that Article 25 of the German Grundgesetz or Constitution requires Germany to comply with norms of customary and general international law, including jus cogens norms.

The Trenchant Observer

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