Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Full text of new EU sanctions against Russia (September 8, 2014)

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Developing

See “New EU sanctions hit Russia,” EU Business, 12 September 2014 (11:10 CET).

The full text of the new EU sanctions against Russia because of its aggression in the Ukraine (September 8, 2014), as published in the Journal Officiel of the EU on September 12, 2014, are found here (5 documents).

The Trenchant Observer

TWO VASTLY DIFFERENT OUTCOMES — Conditions for lifting the new EU sanctions (once in force): (1) Ceasefire holds; or (2) All steps in Minsk Protocol on ceasefire and peace process completed

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Much has been at stake in the battle within the EU over whether the new sanctions against Russia (agreed on September 5) should now enter into force, or whether a further round of negotiations among the EU member states is required. In point of fact, the latter is already taking place.

The pacifists and appeasers want to examine whether the “ceasefire” established by the Minsk Protocol is “holding”.

They are only focusing on the ceasefire, not the additional 11 steps in the Minsk peace plan.

If they succeed in using this criterion for gutting the sanctions, Putin will achieve the goal of a “frozen conflict”, as he did in Georgia, and will retain the power to press Kiev militarily to achieve his objectives. These may include the establishment of a land corridor linking Russia proper with the Crimea.

The reality is that once the momentum within the EU for new sanctions has dissipated, Putin will be able to press hard on the ground to achieve his goals.

If on the other hand the sanctions are implemented now, and the conditions for lifting them include completion of all 12 steps in the Minsk Protocol, Putin will have a strong and continuing incentive to pressure the leaders of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic to make reasonable accomodations with Kiev on the “special status law” for areas under their control. This issue is the key to a settlement of the conflict.

In short, if all Putin has to do in order to stop the imposition of new sanctions is to maintain the ceasefire, he can easily do that until the concentration and determination of the EU’s members to impose the sanctions dissipate. These will inevitably weaken over time (probably in only a couple of weeks).

Putin will then get away with invading the eastern Ukraine with regular forces without paying any price, while the “ceasefire” is allowed to collapse.

After that Putin will be free to return to his strategy of exerting
military pressure on the Ukraine through ” stealth warfare” or more direct military intervention.

Under this scenario he will have no lasting incentive to press the “separatists” to reach a reasonable accomodation on the status of their territories, and the Minsk Protocol peace process will simply collapse.

Consequently, the specific conditions for lifting the new sanctions are outcome determinative. Putin wins. Or an independent Ukraine wins, with Russian acquiescence due to the desire to lift the sanctions.

One final point: the Members of the EU should reflect deeply on the fact that Putin doesn’t even admit that Russian troops have been fighting in the Ukraine.

What kind of negotiated deal which relies on promises regarding future behavior (the other points in the Minsk Protoccol–to which Russia is not even a party) can you have when your antagonist denies the essential factual predicates on which it must be based?

This constitutes a powerful argument for not letting up the sanctions pressure until Putin’s actions can be confirmed and verified on the ground.

The EU, the U.S. and NATO need to approach Putin and Russia from a position of strength.

They must put aside the fear Putin’s military aggression has put into their hearts.

They must put aside parocchial economic concerns.

Of course the economic sanctions will affect them. Hitler’s invasions of their countries also had negative economic effects.

There is a price to be paid to halt and turn back aggression, and to help protect the citizens of the eastern Ukraine from the widespread abuses of fundamental human rights and war crimes to which they have been subjected by the “separatists”.

International order based on the U.N. Charter is not a free public good. Nor is the protection of fundamental human rights.

There is a small price to be paid. The member states of the EU should pay it now, and agree on the immediate entry into force of the new sanctions.

The Trenchant Observer

Putin succeeds in breaking EU decision making machinery — Now, no EU decision by top leaders will be final

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

You have to hand it to Finland, and the pacifist and appeasers among the leaders of EU member states.

To placate Vladimir Putin, they have broken the decision making machinery of the European Union.

If any “final” decision can be blocked at the formal written approval and printing press stage, no decisions will ever be final, and endless wrangling and re-neogtiations can always ensue.

It is hard to see how the EU can ever take final decisions, on any hard-fought matter, if the decisions of the heads of government or foreign ministers can be blocked by misusing a technical procedure designed only to ensure the written text complies with the agreement, before it is published in the EU’s Official Journal.

Here, Finland was apparently the country which refused to sign off on the sanctions agreement of September 5 when it was reduced to writing.

Finland’s objection went to the heart of the EU “final” decision itself.  It was not merely a question of whether the lawyers and other officials who drafted the written document had gotten some detail wrong.

The new foreign affairs chief designate, Italian Forein Minister Federica Mogherini, demonstrated how ill-prepared and what a poor choice she is for her new post, by taking up the banner of the pacifists and appeasers who have sought to overturn the September 5 “final” decision on adoption of the new EU sanctions.

She will have to be kept under tight control by incoming European Council President David Trusk (the just-resigned prime minister of Poland), if the European Union is to have any kind of coherent foreign policy at all.

Either Mogherini will have to be replaced, or more of the foreign policy authority will have to shift to the office of the President of the Council.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, by pushing Mogherini through over the staunch objections of a number of member states, particularly those on the front lines facing Russia in the East, has demonstrated that he is not the bright socialist hope for the future that many had thought.

He and Ms. Mogherini, rather than consensus builders, appear to be like bulls in a China shop.

The broken China represented by the broken decision making machinery of the EU is lying on the floor for all to see.

Vladimir Putin can take pride in the fact that by his threats and machinations, including blatant lies, war propagand and acts of agression, he has brought this fiasco about.

No doubt he is planning to do something similar in NATO.

The Trenchant Observer

Putin wins again? UE sanctions decision of September 5 appears to fall apart; Future of Minsk Protocol peace process in doubt

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Draft

See Editorial, “Making Mr. Putin feel the heat of sanctions,” Washington Post, September 9, 2014 (8:07 p.m. ET).

The Achievement Represented by the Signing of the Minsk Protocol on September 5, 2014

For the text of the agreement and relevant analysis, see

“Full text of Minsk Protocol on Ceasefire in Ukraine (August 5, 2014),” The Trenchant Observer, September 7, 2014 (Official Russian text and informal English translation).

“Inside Putin’s Brain: Musings on the Ukraine and what is going on inside his head — Part III,” The Trenchant Observer, September 9, 2014. (“The Principle of “I make believe, you make believe”, the EU’s New Sanctions, and the Minsk Protocol”)

“Finland blocks entry into force of EU sanctions, gravely threatening prospects for peace in Ukraine,” The Trenchant Observer, September 8, 2014.

“Pacifists and appeasers in EU delay entry into force of new sanctions, undermining hard actions which produced Minsk ceasefire and peace process agreement,” The Trenchant Observer, September 8, 2014. (Includes informal English translation of Minsk Protocol)

The Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014 represents a significant achievement and an important milestone on the road toward reestablishing peace and order in the eastern Ukraine.

We should understand, however, that it was accomplished only as the result of the U.S. NATO, and the EU making really hard decisions to confront Vladimir Putin with the enormous powers at their command — both military and economic — and the unity of the West which stood behind them.

It is absolutely clear that Putin has now become a dedicated enemy of Europe, NATO, and the existing international legal and political order. Like the USSR during the first Cold War years, which needed to be watched and countered every minute of every day as it moved to take over Eastern Europe, Putin’s Russia must be watched and countered now.

Only the Truman Doctrine and the vigorous defense of Greece through economic assistance kept that country from falling under Stalin’s power and control.

Some may also recall or have studied the history of the Soviet Union’s attempt to strangle Berlin through the Berlin Blockade (June 24, 1948 to May 12, 1949), which was only forestalled by the decisive actions of the U.S. in conducting of the Berlin Airlift during this period.

Putin and Russia are, like Stalin and the Soviet Union of that era, highly organized, highly aggressive, and ready to pounce like a leopard on any opening or target of opportunity the West may give them.

This situation is not the dream we had in the first years after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, or during the period of progress that was made in the next 10 or 15 years. However, the invasion of Georgia in 2008 signaled the beginning of a new era. With Vladimir Putin’s reelection to the Presidency in 2012, and the repression of civil society and the opposition which soon ensued, democracy was crushed at home as preparations were made for aggression abroad.

The dream may in the future be revived.  But this can only occur if the xenophobic nationalism Putin has fanned and Russia’s policies of aggression are snuffed out, and their consequences unwound.

Now the West faces the the very different and very dangerous Russia of Vladimir Putin, which invaded the Crimea in February and “annexed” it in March, only then to turn to the eastern Ukraine in an escalating series of acts of invasion, culminating with the sending of thousands of Russian soldiers and their equipment into the Donbass region in August.

That is the situation we now face.

The history of events since February shows that threats of future actions and specifically threats of the adoption of harsher economic sanctions have had little or no effect on Putin’s behavior. Repeatedly, these threats have not been carried out, and have now lost whatever persuasive force they might once have had.

Now, finally, in response to strong pressures and the adoption of new and harsh sanctions against Russia on September 5, with parallel American sanctions to follow, Putin made very significant concessions behind the scenes as leaders of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic reached agreement with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at Minsk on September 5, signing a Protocol of 12 points for the establishment of a ceasefire and the taking of steps that might lead toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the region.

The key point is that the agreement in Minsk was reached as the result of actions that were taken, not threats of future actions.

That is the strongest lesson learned from dealing with Putin over the last six months vis-à-vis the Ukraine. Putin responds to countervailing actions, but not to threats of uncertain future actions, such as sanctions.

If the EU proceeds to implement the new sanctions agreed on September 5, and it should do so immediately, the EU, the U.S. and NATO will have continuing leverage over Putin to ensure he complies with the Minsk Protocol, not only with respect to a ceasefire, but also with respect to the agreement’s other provisions, which call for a withdrawal of “the illegal armed groups, military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries” from Ukraine. While Russian troops are not specifically named, it should not be too difficult to insist on their withdrawal–regardless of whether Mr. Putin admits they are there.

The Minsk Protocol provides a path for Ukrainians who became caught up in the insurrection launched by Putin and his intelligence and irregular forces to put down their arms, benefit from an amnesty, and to start getting on with their lives, in a region where their Russian language and cultural rights are fully protected. Prisoners will be exchanged.

Putin’s “stealth invasion” forced many good, innocent people to choose sides under extraordinary circumstances. With the benefit of the amnesty provided for in the Minsk Protocol, they should now be allowed to resume their previous lives, and in all probability many will choose to do so.

If implemented, the provisions of the Minsk Protocol hold out the possibility of a return to peace and a settlement of the conflict.

For that to happen, the West must use its economic power by imposing the new sanctions now. It can then slowly relax them, as significant steps are actually carried out on the ground. The most important of all of these, of course, will be the withdrawal of all the irregular and regular forces and equipment Russia sent into the Donbass as part of its invasion.

Only such an approach will have a chance of deterring Putin from undermining the deal, and resuming his military pressure on the Ukraine.

Moreover, only such an approach holds any hope for an eventual negotiated roll-back of the Russian invasion and “annexation” of the Crimea. A negotiated resolution here is conceivable. Without such an eventual settlement, long-term peace and stability in the Ukraine will be tenuous.

A settlement would require compensation to the Ukraine for war damages and expropriation of state property and assets. This could conceivably take the form of long-term gas supply and price concessions.

A second component of any final settlement would revolve around a plebiscite or referendum on independence. The Crimea could be put under international administration under OSCE auspices for a period of 2-5 years, for example, culminating in an internationally supervised plebiscite on independence and/or joining Russia. By this means, the international political and legal order might be restored to its integrity.

For any of this to happen, the West would have to deal from a position of strength. This would require immediate implementation of the EU sanctions decision of September 5, 2014.

As the EU showed weakness yesterday and today, reports emerged of statements by the separatists that if they did not achieve the independent status which they seek in negotiations scheduled in Minsk within a week, they would consider the entire Protocol void, including the ceasefire. That is a clue as to what is likely to happen if the West waffles, instead of standing firm and imposing the new sanctions.

In dealing with Vladimir Putin, an individual who has launched two military invasions of the Ukraine since February, filled Russia and the world with blatant lies and distortions, and broken every promise he has made regarding the Ukraine, the EU, the U.S. and NATO would be well advised to proceed from strength.

They should jettison their fear of Putin, feel and appreciate their own collective military and economic might, and take tough actions against Russia by implementing the new sanctions immediately.

Then, though the path may be winding and uncertain, the Ukraine may have a chance of achieving peace, not through capitulation but rather as a free and independent country.

The Trenchant Observer

Inside Putin’s Brain—Part III: The Principle of “I make believe, you make believe”, the EU’s New Sanctions, and the Minsk Protocol — with Putin’s (imagined) annotations on full text (in English)

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

In warfare, as in diplomacy, it is important to try to put yourself in the shoes of your adversary, to try to understand what is going on inside his head (or her head).

Vladimir Putin, through his actions and rejection of the postwar legal and political order, has become the adversary of the West, just as Russia has become the enemy of all civilized countries which seek to uphold the United Nations Charter and its foundational principles prohibiting the threat or use of force across international frontiers.

Following are musings by the Observer on what may be going through Putin’s mind right now.

*****

Article Series


Inside Putin’s Brain: Musings on the Ukraine and what is going on inside his head

See Part I here (September 2, 2014).

See Part II here (September 3, 2014).

*****

Part III: The Principle of “I make believe, you make believe”, the EU’s New Sanctions, and the Minsk Protocol

I remember what we learned in dealing with the West on Syria, and think of how we are applying now what we learned then in the Ukraine.

Syria

I thought back in 2012 that (Foreign Minister) Sergey Lavrov was kidding when he explained to me how Kofi Annan’s Six-Point Peace Plan for Syria could be used to keep the West off balance indefinitely, dissuade them from offering any real military support to the “rebels”, and end up solidifying Bashar Al-Assad’s hold on power.

The principle is as brilliant as it is simple.

It’s the “I make believe, you make believe” principle.

Obama and the wimps in the European Union never wanted to provide any military support to the rebels in Syria, but they were coming under intense public pressure from NGO’s, that U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights woman from South Africa, Navi Pillay, human rights groups, newspapers, and political leaders to do something.

So Lavrov helped Kofi Annan come up with the Six Point Peace Plan, an important part of which was that there should be no foreign intervention. This suited us well, since we were invited guests of al-Assad, not foreign intervenors. If the U.S. or others furnished weapons to the rebels, they would be violating the agreement.

Anyway, I get distracted. Kofi Annan enjoyed the spotlight as he conducted endless rounds of discussions among different groups, and even the Syrians, about his peace plan. He enjoyed being in the limelight, and the perks.

The formula that worked was, we pretended it would somehow work, and the wimps in Europe and the United States went along because it took the pressure off of them to do anything, and they didn’t have to supply arms to the rebels.

By the time “I make believe, you make believe” came to its ultimate end, at the Geneva II peace conference in January 2014, al-Assad had pretty much turned the tide in the war and consolidated his position. To be sure, with our help and Iran’s and Hezbollah on the ground in Syria.

Then, when Bashar got a little carried away with his chemical experiments (What a great New Yorker magazine cover!), we had a problem with Obama because of that “red line” quip he had tossed off earlier about using chemical weapons.

Obama got all huffed up and puffed up and was under great pressure to launch a military strike against Syria. But he didn’t really want to. He didn’t have the “cojones”, as Madeleine Allbright would put it, to do so.

Lavrov came to the rescue with his “elimination of chemical weapons” plan. Obama jumped at it because it took the pressure off him to act militarily, while also giving the Israelis a kind of an unexpected bonus. They benefitted directly from the chemical weapons removal deal, as did al-Assad who got to retain his hold on power without worrying about any direct or indirect military interference from the U.S. and its friends, like Saudi Arabia.

But the really brilliant part of the deal was that we were able to apply the “I make believe, you make believe” principle to great effect. We pretended that the internal Syria opposition didn’t exist (which we kind of showed at Geneva II), and Obama pretended that they didn’t exist either. So the whole deal was a brilliant success–for me and al-Assad!

The Ukraine and the Minsk Protocol

Ah! Today my thoughts turn to the Minsk Protocol ceasefire and peace processs agreement. It was reached by President Petro Poroshenko, Donetsk People’s Republic President Vitaly Zakharshenko (who we gave the job to barely in time when we pulled “Igor Strelkov” from that position–a Russian citizen would not have done for this role in Minsk!), former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and the representative of the OSCE.

Originally I had a pretty good plan that I wrote on the plane on the way back from Mongolia, which achieved all of our objectives. (Actually, it amounted to a capitulation by Kiev on all essential points!)

But the EU summit in Brussels and the NATO summit in Wales complicated matters. We didn’t expect the unanimity on really harsh EU sanctions to be forthcoming on September 5, at the same time NATO announced the formation of a 5,000-man quick reaction force to be used in the Baltics.

As if I would ever think of protecting the Russian minorities there!

So we had to regroup, and I ended up agreeing to authorize Zakharshenko to agree to the 12 points in the Minsk Protocol.

We didn’t specifically say that Russian troops would be withdrawn because “I make believe, You make believe!” Russia doesn’t have any troops in the Ukraine. Nor has it been furnishing weapons and fighters, except for a few guys who got lost and others who went there on their vacations!

I’m a lawyer, and a very good one, after all. So let’s do a little analysis of what the Protocol says. My comments are in parentheses. On the key point, Russian troops, it says only:

10. Withdraw the illegal armed groups, military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries from Ukraine.

This was good enough for Poroshenko. “I make believe, you make believe!” . He’s a shrewd guy, and he knew he was getting a good deal with the 12 points in the Protocol.

But of course I am a shrewder guy, and I know I can tangle up the guys at the EU when I say the Minsk Protocol’s provisions have been carried out, as follows:

1. Ensure the immediate bilateral ceasefire.

This is the only point the EU ambassadors are focusing on, and we will make sure it holds until after the momentum for further harsh sanctions has dissipated, and we’re protected from that risk.

2. Ensure the monitoring and verification by the OSCE of the ceasefire.

They’ll be monitoring the ceasefire, not who sent Russian troops into the Donbass and near Mariupol.

3. A decentralization of power, including through the adoption of the law of Ukraine “about local government provisional arrangements in some areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts” (law on the special status).

This is the key point we can use to scuttle the Minsk Protocol after it has served its purpose of diverting the EU from adopting stronger sanctions, once attention has shifted away from what is going on.

Or, I can always use this point to pressure Poroshenko, and threaten renewed military action if Zakharshenko’s demands for independence or functional independence are not satisfied. He was getting a little bit out ahead of the train when he or one of his spokesmen said today that if the DPR’s demands were not met, the whole agreement including the ceasefire would be scuttled. I need to get his handlers to give him clearer and tighter instructions.

4. Ensure the permanent monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian border and verification by the OSCE with the creation of security zones in the border regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

This is OK for now. At least it will keep the Ukrainians away from the border, and how many tanks can an OSCE inspector stop when they are crossing fields in the middle of the night? Anyway, I have enough Russian troops inside the Ukraine now for present purposes. If we need more later, we can change the circumstances. Zakharshenko can quit the agreement if he doesn’t get his independence, for example!

5. To immediately release all hostages and illegally detained persons.

No problem. Zakharshenko is keen to get his men back, anyway.

6. A law on preventing the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that have taken place in some areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.

The locals want this, as of course do our local commanders in case their guys get caught. Wonderful choice of words. “Persons” is suitably broad enough to include Russian citizens and military persons.

7. Continue the inclusive national dialogue.

No problem. Goes with point 3.

8. To take measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Donbass.

This is great! It will give us a formal ground to insist on sending in some more “humanitarian aid” convoys in white trucks, which can also bring back industrial equipment made in the Ukraine we need for our weapons systems and industry, as well as any more bodies of soldiers, if necessary.

9. Ensure early local elections in accordance with the law of Ukraine “about local government provisional arrangements in some areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts” (law on the special status).

This goes with points 3 and 7. Our “separatists” already have valuable election experience!

10. Withdraw the illegal armed groups, military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries from Ukraine.

I make believe, You make believe! There is no mention of Russian soldiers here! See comments above.

11. To adopt the program of economic recovery and reconstruction of Donbas region.

Of course. We welcome EU money, and money from the World Bank or anywhere else, to help our local leaders rebuild the new autonomous or independent areas.

12. To provide personal security for the participants in the consultations.

This is Zakharshenko’s point. I guess it make sense.

Well, it’s good to have the 12 points here, with my annotations. I’m happy to use the legal skills. At least becoming a lawyer in St. Petersburg wasn’t a total waste.

It looks like we almost got the EU to back down from the September 5 decision to implement the new sanctions. But it was a really close call. Had it not been for our friends in Finland and a couple of other countries–AND THE FACT THAT THE EUROPEANS ARE UTTER WIMPS!–the new sanctions might have actually come into effect on Tuesday, September 9.

But now, as the ceasefire holds, and we make it look like the other points are being implemented, we should be able to derail this latest sanctions action. We will give the EU ambassadors and presidents plenty of arguments to quibble over.

The key is that many of them don’t want to impose the new sanctions, because our latest threats have scared them, they are worried about the economic impact in their countries, and they have very parochial perspectives to begin with.

“I make believe, You make believe!”

Meanwhile, I am restoring Russia to its greatness! My tears when they played the national anthem today were genuine, as genuine as they ever get with an old KGB man!

End of musings by the Observer on what is going on in Putin’s head.

The Trenchant Observer

Finland blocks entry into force of EU sanctions, gravely threatening prospects for peace in Ukraine

Monday, September 8th, 2014

UPDATE (September 10, 2014)

“Trotz Beschluss gegen Russland: EU drückt sich vor Sanktionen; Die Europäische Union zögert die angekündigten Strafmaßnahmen gegen Russland im Ukraine-Konflikt weiter hinaus. Einige Staaten wollen den wackeligen Frieden im Osten des Landes nicht gefährden. Doch Berlin drängt zu schnellem Handeln, Der Spiegel, 10. september 2014 (20:46 Uhr).

Accoding to Der Spiegel, above all Finland has pushed for the sanctions not to be made effective:

Nach Angaben von Diplomaten habe vor allem Finnland darauf gedrungen, die neuen Sanktionen noch nicht wirksam zu machen, um die vereinbarte Waffenruhe zwischen der Ukraine und Russland nicht zu gefährden. Die Beratungen der 28 Staaten sollen am Donnerstag fortgesetzt werden. Ein EU-Vertreter sagte der Nachrichtenagentur AFP, dass dabei auch die veränderte Lage in der umkämpften Ostukraine neu bewertet würde.

Latest developments

(1) Juhana Rossi, “Finland Feels EU Should Go Slow on Russia Sanctions; New Russia Sanctions Were Adopted by EU, But Timing for Implementation Still Undecided,” Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2014 (2:50 p.m. ET).

(2) “Krieg in der Ukraine: EU schiebt härtere Sanktionen gegen Russland auf,” Sueddeutscher Zeitung, 9. September 2014 (07:12 Uhr).

“Bedenkzeit für Moskau: Die EU will den Druck auf Russland wegen der Ukraine-Krise erhöhen – doch nicht sofort. Der russische Präsident Putin und sein ukrainischer Amtskollege Poroschenko nehmen erneut direkten Kontakt auf.

“Die EU verzögert die Anwendung verschärfter Russland-Sanktionen um einige Tage. Das Paket sei aber von den nationalen Regierungen genehmigt worden, heißt es in einer Mitteilung von EU-Ratspräsident Herman Van Rompuy. Die Atempause soll Russland Zeit zum Einlenken im Ukraine-Konlikt geben. Die neuen Maßnahmen sollten “in den nächsten paar Tagen” in Kraft treten, schreibt Van Rompuy. “Dies wird (uns) Zeit geben für eine Beurteilung der Umsetzung der Waffenstillstands-Vereinbarung und des Friedensplans.” Mit Blick auf die Situation vor Ort – also in der Ostukraine – sei die EU bereit, “die vereinbarten Sanktionen ganz oder teilweise noch einmal zu überdenken”. Nach Angaben eines Diplomaten sollen die EU-Botschafter am Mittwoch wieder über die Lage beraten.”

(3) Jan Strupczewski and Adrian Croft, “UPDATE 2-EU delays enforcing new Russia sanctions” Reuters, September 9, 2014 (2:04 a.m IST).

(4) Andrew Rettman, “EU sanctions on Russia in limbo,” euobserver, September 9, 2014 (09:27). Rettman names Finland and also Italy as opposing immediarte entry into force.

(5) LUCÍA ABELLÁN / RODRIGO FERNÁNDEZ (Bruselas / Moscú), “UE aprueba las sanciones a Moscú pero las aplaza en plena tregua; Los Veintiocho ponen en marcha una nueva ronda de castigos, pero pactan que sean reversibles; Poroshenko dice que los rebeldes han liberado a 1.200 prisioneros,”El Pais,
8 SEP 2014 – (21:24 CEST).

(6) Lawrence Norman (Brussels), “Ukraine Presses EU on New Russia Sanctions; New Sanctions Will Target State-Owned Russian Firms and Ban The Export of Additional Goods,” Wall Street Journal, September 9, 2014 (10:23 a.m. ET). Juhanna Rossi in Helsinki contributed to this article.

Finland Reportedly blocks implementation of New EU Sanctions Against Russia

We knew that the European Union was only as strong as its weakest link.

We now know that its weakest link is Finland.

Finland is not a member of NATO, and had something of a neutral status during the Cold War. One would have thought that after becoming an EU member in 1995, it would have abandoned its neutral stance within the EU.

The great achievement of the EU in the last two weeks has been to request the European Commission to draft written language specifying harsher sanctions, in a document which was to become legally binding after formal approval (usually a mere formality) by EU governments on Monday, September 8, and publication in the Official Gazette of the EU on Tuesday. In other words, the sanctions were to become binding on September 9.

Now the outgoing President of the EU Council, Herman Van Rompuy, has announced that the sanctions have been delayed, but will enter into force “in the next couple of days”.

Van Rompuy’s statement is filled with contradictions, and points toward delays that will far exceed “a couple of days”.

“This will give (us) time to make a judgment regarding the implementation of the ceasefire and the peace plan,” Rompuy said. Looking at the situation on the ground — that is, in the Eastern Ukraine — the EU is ready “to reassess the agreed-upon sanctions once again in whole or in part.” According to a diplomatic source, the Ambassadors to the EU will consult on the situation on Wesdnesday.

To the Observer, these comments sound like smoke and mirrors, in a blatant attempt to obfuscate what is really going on.

Behind Van Rompuy’s statement is what appears to have been a Finnish objection to entry into force of the sanctions on Tuesday. Unanimity among the EU’s members was required when signing the formal document for the sanctions to be immediately published and enter into force.

Though they won’t say it, and are seeking to mask the reality of what is happening behind the scenes, European leaders have in effect moved their decision-making back to a point before the “final” decision on September 5 (to impose the agreed-upon sanctions on Tuesday).

Western resolve has been shaken once again, and the pacifists and appeasers in the EU want to take one more shot at avoiding imposition of the sanctions.

The hard fact is that there will be no way to verify whether Putin is implementing the peace process provisions of the Minsk agreement, precisely because it establishes a process for the taking of a number of steps. Van Rupuy and the EU ambassadors will have to rely on Putin’s promises instead.

See “Pacifists and appeasers in EU delay entry into force of new sanctions, undermining hard actions which produced Minsk ceasefire and peace process agreem,” The Trenchant Observer, September 8, 2014.

It is logically and physically impossible that these steps can be taken in the next few days. This means, that if Finland and the other pacifists and appeasers among the leaders of the EU countries can succeed in delaying entry into force of the new sanctions, the whole EU decision of September 5 becomes a fiction and falls apart.

The pacifism and appeasement that is so deeply ingrained in European and American leaders amounts to defeatism, a belief in the weakness of NATO, the EU and the U.S. and their allies, and the inability of their combined economic and military power to contain Putin’s military aggression, without surrendering to him significant concessions and territorial gains achieved through military conquest.

The Minsk agreement for a ceasefire and establishment of a process for achieving peace in the Ukraine was a significant achievement — on paper.

We can thank Finland for putting it all at risk.

If the ceasefire and the peace process established by the Minsk agreement collapse, it will clearly be the fault of Finland. That is quite a way for the heirs of the courageous Finns who fought Russia so valiantly in the 1939-1940 “Winter War” to now go down in history, in 2014.

The Trenchant Observer

Pacifists and appeasers in EU delay entry into force of new sanctions, undermining hard actions which produced Minsk ceasefire and peace process agreement

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Latest News and Opinion

See

(1) “Sanktionen in der Ukraine-Krise: EU lässt Moskau noch einige Tage,” Der Spiegel, 8. September 2014 (2153 Uhr).

Sie sind schärfer, aber sie verzögern sich: Erst in wenigen Tagen sollen die EU-Sanktionen gegen Russland greifen. Ölkonzerne wie Rosneft und Gazprom bekommen dann schwerer Kredite. Wird der Kreml doch noch einlenken in der Ukraine-Krise?

(2) Jan Strupczewski (Brussels), “EU delays signing off on new Russia sanctions,” Reuters, September 8, 2014 (1:26 p.m. EDT).

(3) “Full text of Minsk Protocol on Ceasefire in Ukraine (August 5, 2014), The Trenchant Observer, September 7, 2014.

Return to “Threats of Sanctions” Strategy Could Cause Unraveling of Ceasefire and Peace Process Initiated in Minsk

The first ray of hope that the crisis caused by Russian invasions in the Ukraine might be brought under control and a process of de-escalation begun is now threatened by pacifists and appeasers among the leaders of EU countries who are acting to halt implementation of the specific new third-stage (stage 3) sanctions agreed by EU leaders on September 5, when they were gathered at the NATO summit in Wales.

These hard measures, together with NATO’s decisions to create a quick reaction force for the East and to insist on Alliance countries meeting a requirement that they invest 2% of the GDP in defense, produced the Minsk ceasefire agreement and the first real Russian actions leading toward de-escalation in the six months since Russia invaded the Crimea in late February, 2014.

The Minsk Ceasefire and Peace Process Agreement Reached in Minsk on September 5 provided the following:

1. Ensure the immediate bilateral ceasefire.

2. Ensure the monitoring and verification by the OSCE of the ceasefire.

3. A decentralization of power, including through the adoption of the
law of Ukraine “about local government provisional arrangements in some
areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts” (law on the special status).

4. Ensure the permanent monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian border and
verification by the OSCE with the creation of security zones in the
border regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

5. To immediately release all hostages and illegally detained persons.

6. A law on preventing the prosecution and punishment of persons in
connection with the events that have taken place in some areas of
Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.

7. Continue the inclusive national dialogue.

8. To take measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Donbass.

9. Ensure early local elections in accordance with the law of Ukraine
“about local government provisional arrangements in some areas of
Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts” (law on the special status).

10. Withdraw the illegal armed groups, military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries from Ukraine.

11. To adopt the program of economic recovery and reconstruction of Donbas region.

12. To provide personal security for the participants in the consultations.

Prior to these decisions, both the EU and the U.S. had pursued a strategy of pacifism and appeasement in the face of Russian aggression, adopting a strategy of using future sanctions to secure Vladimir Putin’s desisting from further acts of aggression or halting those underway.

This strategy failed, in a most spectacular way, emboldening Putin to “annex” the Crimea, and then to conduct what was at first a “stealth” invasion of the eastern Ukraine, and then in August became an increasingly brazen invasion by regular Russian forces into the eastern Ukraine with thousands of troops, artillery, armored personnel carriers, and advanced air-defense systems, including the one that shot down Malaysian Flight MH17, a civilian flight), on August 17.

This failed strategy of threatening sanctions, and then failing to impose them, has led to the deaths of over 3,000 soldiers and civilians, on both sides, in the Eastern Ukraine.

It is abundantly clear that the only thing that has caused Putin finally to show signs of willingness to slow his military advances has been the very recent united response of the EU and the U.S. in imposing new and harsh sanctions on Russia, in execution of earnest and specific threats they made in early August, and the strong unity shown at the NATO summit in Wales which produced the decisions described above.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that only decisive steps by the West can cause Putin and Russia to slow and halt their aggression, the pacifism and appeasement that has taken very deep roots among the leaders of Europe and the United States is not dead. It survives, and now threatens to scuttle the progress that has been made as a direct result of unity and hard decisions to impose sanctions and take military decisions now, leaving the question of their relaxation dependent not on Russian promises which are worthless, but on Russian actions on the ground as observed in the field.

The idea, finally, has been to adopt the sanctions first, and then to relax them if and only if Russia ceases its support of the “separatists” and its direct military intervention in the Ukraine.

It is not a quid pro quo. The West is not holding off on its sanctions in order to secure promises from Putin that Russia will stop its military intervention in the future.

Rather, the EU, the U.S. and the EU are acting to change the facts on the ground, including the facts on the ground within Russia), to which Putin and Russia must respond.

By doing so they are also setting in motion powerful forces which will help to deter Putin from further military aggression through “stealth warfare” or otherwise in Eastern Europe, particularly in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, which have large Russian-speaking minorities.

The ceasefire in the eastern Ukraine is tenuous, as is the incipient peace process meant to accompany it.

Any Western hesitation in carrying out the solemn decisions of EU leaders will appear as weakness to Putin.

Putin’s word is worthless, as worthless as that of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, who Russia counseled and supported diplomatically, militarily and financially as some 200,000 people were killed. Anyone who has looked carefully at Russia’s and Assad’s actions in Syria in the last three years knows well the Russia modus operandi of duplicity, false promises, and uncompromising military activity on the ground.

Why would anyone want to exchange concrete progress on the ground achieved through implementation of the Minsk agreement for promises and undertakings from a known liar who has broken every promise he has made about the Ukraine?

The sanctions need to be imposed now, at once, if Putin’s illusions about the weakness of the West are to be dispelled, and if the West has any hopes that not only the Minsk ceasefire, but also the Minsk peace process, might take root and lead toward a defusing of the conflict.

Finland or Slovakia may fear the sanctions’ impact on their economies, and in the case of Finland on its relations with Russia in general, since it is not a member of NATO.

However, their short-sighted concerns should not be allowed to defeat the united will of Europe and NATO, whose members have only in the last week had a glimpse of how powerful they are acting together, and the strength of the economic weapons they can deploy to halt the advance of Russian tanks.

The Trenchant Observer

Full text of Minsk Protocol on Ceasefire in Ukraine (September 5, 2014)

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has now published the full text of the Protocol for a ceasefire in the Ukraine.

See

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, “Protocol on the results of consultations of the Trilateral Contact Group, signed in Minsk, 5 September 2014, OSCE.org.

The official text is published in Russian here.

An informal English translation (as well as the signed Russian text) can be found here, at Liveleak.com.

The informal English text published by Liveleak.com is as follows:

1. Ensure the immediate bilateral ceasefire.

2. Ensure the monitoring and verification by the OSCE of the ceasefire.

3. A decentralization of power, including through the adoption of the  law of Ukraine “about local government provisional arrangements in some areas of Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts” (law on the special status).

4. Ensure the permanent monitoring of the Ukrainian-Russian border and  verification by the OSCE with the creation of security zones in the  border regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.

5. To immediately release all hostages and illegally detained persons.

6. A law on preventing the prosecution and punishment of persons in  connection with the events that have taken place in some areas of  Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.

7. Continue the inclusive national dialogue.

8. To take measures to improve the humanitarian situation in Donbass.

9. Ensure early local elections in accordance with the law of Ukraine  “about local government provisional arrangements in some areas of  Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts” (law on the special status).

10. Withdraw the illegal armed groups, military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries from Ukraine.

11. To adopt the program of economic recovery and reconstruction of Donbas region.

12. To provide personal security for the participants in the consultations.

(liveleak commentary:

Certainly reads like a victory for Kiev, the Ukrainian Oligarchs, the Russian Oligarchs, the EU government, and the US government.
Don’t see how this agreement benefits the DNR/LNR or the cause of Novorossiya in any way.
Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=91e_1410100704#0fE67hjuIefuDZvq.99

See also

“Terms of Minsk ceasefire agreement described; NATO decisions and new U.S. and EU sactions—if not sidelined at last moment—suggest toughening stance toward Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, September 5, 2014.

The Trenchant Observer

Barack Obama’s phantasmagoric world, where the choice of words defines reality

Friday, September 5th, 2014

phantasmagoria /ˌfæntæzməˈɡɔːrɪə/, phantasmagory /fænˈtæzməɡərɪ/
n
1. a shifting medley of real or imagined figures, as in a dream
2. a sequence of pictures made to vary in size rapidly while remaining in focus
3. RARE a shifting scene composed of different elements

Etymology: 19th Century: probably from French fantasmagorie production of phantasms, from phantasm + -agorie, perhaps from Greek ageirein to gather together

phantasmagoric /ˌfæntæzməˈɡɒrɪk/, ˌphantasmaˈgorical
adj

–Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers

U.S. President Barack Obama was quite successful as a candidadate in 2008 and 2012 through the modern political technique of managing the narrative.

Unfortunately, he has for five and half years applied the same tecnique to the management of his foreign policy narrative.

Tragically, he has paid much more attention to the narrative of his foreign policies and the fine intellectual distinctions he makes in his head than he has to the changing realities on the ground in a number of crises, the relationships between them, and the need for the adoption of an effective strategy and implementing actions which can simultaneously deal with all of them.

These crises include Russia and its invasions of the Ukraine, Syria, ISIS, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and South Sudan, Somalia, the expansion of islamic militant groups across the northern half of Africa (Boko Haram in Nigeria is but one example), and China’s territorial claims and militant actions in the South China and East China Seas.

The evidence that Obama gives priority to the choice of words and managing his foreign policy narrative instead of developing strategy and implementing it through decisive actions is very strong.

In Afganistan, the 2009 policy review spent an enormous amount of time debating whether the goal there should be to “degrade” or to “defeat” the Taliban.

With ISIS, which did not come upon the scene overnight, there is evidence that a similar debate has been taking place, with the president only at the NATO Summit on September 4-5 declaring that the goal should be both to “degrade” and to “destroy” ISIS.

Aside from revealing the divisions within his foreign policy team, this unhappy formulation also reveals–paradoxically–that the president does not always think through the implications of the words he speaks.

From a foreign policy narrative perspective, the formulation makes perfect sense, since it can be portrayed as not reflecting a change in policy. From a strategic and action perspective, the words are pure nonsense.

Further evidence of the priority given by the President to words instead of actions is provided by the emphasis he has placed on calling ISIS by his preferred name, ISIL (“the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”), instead of ISIS (“the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” or “the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham”).

Most recently, as the EU, NATO and the U.S. have faced the challenge of how to respond to the second Russian invasion of the Ukraine, this time in the Donbass, Obama has been very careful to characterize the movement of Russian tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers, and sophisticated air-defense systems into the Ukraine as an “incursion” and not an “invasion”. This played right into Vladimir Putin’s hands, as he sought to confuse the issue and hide the fact that an outright military invasion had occurred and was continuing.

The pacifists and appeasers in NATO and the EU have displayed a similar diffidence in avoiding the term “invasion”, whether due to Obama’s leadership on verbal formulations or not.

An “incursion” might be allowed to stand, as in Georgia. Still, it is hard to see how the seizure of the Crimea and its annexation could be considered a mere “incursion”. It may be that, for now, the pacifists and appeasers who lead the West are simply unable to think about the Crimea.

Finally, mention must be made of Obama’s careful phraseology in stating that if Putin continues on this or that course of action, he and Russia will pay additional “costs”.

This way of looking at the world can be found in Obama’s 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance sppech where, while reserving to himself the right to use force whenever necessay to protect America, he stated that the rules of the road governing the use of force should be followed because it is in the interests of national leaders to do so.

There is no moral imperative contained in his formulations, then or now.

Obama’s leadership in verbal formulations is reflected in the adoption by other NATO and EU leaders of this terminology of “additional costs”.

At times it seems like Obama is stating–matter-of-factly–to an armed burglar in his house, who has already killed one of his children and threatens to rape his wife, that the intruder should desist or else he will have to pay “additional costs”. Lest this example sound too extreme, one should recall that some 3,000 people have killed in the fighting in the eastern Ukraine.

The language of imposing “additional costs” on the aggrssor Putin also has a more pervasive impact on how Obama and other decision makers think about what is going on in the Ukraine. It reveals that Obama, and others who adopt this terminology, have fallen victim to the “Rational Actor Fallacy”, which results from thinking within a “Rational Actor” or “Analytic” paradigm in which all government actions are viewed as the product of a rational calculus by a single, unitary rational mind or its equivalent. This paradigm is manifestly inadequare, and leads to making false assumptions about the causes and motivations of state behavior.

The significance of Obama’s focusing on the choice of words and managing the foreign policy narrative of his administration is that it leads to fuzzy and confused thinking, which can mask the presence of very grave threats to the national security of the United States, NATO members, and other states.

Russia has “invaded” the eastern Ukraine by military force in violation of the prohibition of the threat or use of force contained in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter.

It did so in the Crimea. It has done so now in the eastern Ukraine. Its forces remain in the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine in open and flagrant violation of that bedrock principle of the U.N. Charter and international law.

That is the reality we face, and the reality we must clearly understand, without obfuscations with words, if we are to muster the courage to take effective action to reverse the situation, and to reaffirm and reestablish observance of the most fundamental norm in the U.N. Charter and international law.

The words you choose affect the way you think, as George Orwell explained in 1946. Words which are not connected to actions, as Theodore Roosevel explained in 1907 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech (delivered in 1912), are meangingless, or worse.

To avoid floundering in a phantasmagoric world of visions that lead to lunging at shadows, or sitting immobile when a bear is coming at your throat, Obama and other leaders need to use real words to describe the realities which they see, and the actual and very real threats to which they must respond.

See

(1) Andrew Higgins, “On Ukraine, the West Sidesteps a Fraught Term,” September 4, 2014.

(2) “Russian “Invasion” or Incursion” in Ukraine? Obama and the primacy of words over actions,” The Trenchant Observer, August 28, 2014.

(3) “ISIS or ISIL? A telling tale of the primacy of words over actions in Obama’s foreign policy,” The Trenchant Observer, June 19, 2014.

(4) “The smartest person in the room, and the Afghanistan policy review,” The Trenchant Observer, October 24, 2010.

(5) The Daily Star: “The “Rational Actor” Fallacy and Stopping Syria’s Atrocities—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #8 (March 9) The Trenchant Observer, March 9, 2012.

The Trenchant Observer

The EU and NATO falter in stopping Putin; Strategy and action to contain an existential threat are urgently required

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Draft — Check back for updates

Latst News and Opinion

See

(1) Julia Smirnova, “Putin will plötzlich Frieden in der Ukraine; Kremlchef gibt vor, den Konflikt beenden zu wollen; Doch sein Plan ist ein fauler Deal,” Die Welt, 4. September 2014 (Die Welt Kompakt).

(2) Julian Hans (Korrespondent der Süddeutschen Zeitung in Moskau / Kommentar) “Krieg in der Ukraine: Putin will nicht Frieden, sondern Kiews Kapitulation,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 5. September 2014 (07:30 Uhr).

Petro Poroschenko will dem Sieben-Punkte-Plan Moskaus nun doch zustimmen. Das ist ein bitteres Eingeständnis des ukrainischen Präsidenten: Gegen russische Truppen kann die Ukraine nicht gewinnen.

Analysis

1. Russian President Vladimir Putin knows the pacifist leaders of the West quite well and has, quite predictably, given them a thread to hang their hopes on and an excuse for not adopting really harsh sanctions against Russia this week.

The U.S. and the EU threatened in early August to impose such sanctions if Putin continued his support of his puppet “separatists” in the Donbass or sent regular Russian troops into the Ukraine.

2. He has done both of these things, and continues to do so. Russian forces are fighting Ukranian soldiers at this very moment in the Donbass and beyond. There exists inconrovertible proof of their invasion and fighting.

Putin is telling bald-faced lies when he denies these facts.

3. The pacifists and appeasers who lead the biggest countries of “Old Europe” within the EU, especially Germany but also France and England, oppose really strong further sanctions against Russia.

The socialists now hold key positions in Europe with enough influence to slow or derail the momentum for tougher sanctions.

They include German SPD Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (former chief of staff of former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Schroeder is Putin’s business partner in the Nordstream gas pipeline project, such a good friend he traveled to St. Petersburg to celebrate his 70th birtday with Vladimir, and one of the leading Putin apologists in Germany.

They now also include the new (and inexperienced) socialist EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, pushed through by Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi (a rising socialist star) in a deal for top EU positions that had nothing to do with foreign policy.

One of her first statements after her selection was that there was “no military solution” to the Ukrainian conflict (except, of course, Putin’s military solution produced by his second invasion of the Ukraine).

Third, they include the former German SPD politician and recently re-elected President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. He was quoted recently as saying he was opposed to the imposition of any further sanctions against Russia, as follows:

Sanktionen ausgesprochen, um eine weitere Eskalation des Konflikts zu vermeiden. Der Gesprächsfaden mit Russland dürfe “gerade in Krisenzeiten nicht reißen”, sagte der SPD-Politiker der “Hannoverschen Allgemeinen Zeitung”. “Was wir jetzt brauchen, ist kein Säbelrasseln, sondern beharrliche Diplomatie”, sagte Schulz. Europa habe bereits Sanktionen beschlossen, die die russische Wirtschaft hart träfen.

–“Ukraine-Krise: USA bereiten neue Sanktionen gegen Putin vor,” Der Spiegel, 4. september 2014 (20:28 Uhr).

4. The fundamental problem is that Europe’s most influential leaders, such as CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel and her SPD foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, have pacifism and appeasement vis-a-vis Russia in their DNA.

Europe’s pacifist leaders, like the U.S. pacifist president Barack Obama, will contemplate the limited use of force against ISIS or in Afghanistan, but can’t imagine it being necessary to contain Russia.

The result is appeasement of Putin by pacifist leaders lacking any sense of history, strategy, or their own responsibilities before history. Nor do they have any understanding of the central role of international law and institutions in organizing international society, and the particular importance of the prohibition of the threat or use of force contained in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter.

5. So, they are willing to leave the Ukraine and Petro Poroshenko to face Putin alone, as the mighty Russian army is pummeling his troops in its ongoing invasion of his country.

6. Putin has offered him a “ceasefire” which amounts to a diktat for capitulation. Most of the Western leaders who are leaving him to face the Russian army on his own probably haven’t read it or fully understand its implications.

Signing the “ceasefire” agreement with Putin, if it ever comes to implementation, is likely to spell an end to Poroshenko’s hopes to build a political base in the upcoming Ukrainian elections for parliament in October.

He is handicapped to begin with, without a party. Prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk signalled his strong opposition to the ceasefire and that of his party, that of Iulia Timoshenko.

Poor Poroshenko. He begged for strong support and real military assistance from the NATO countries for months, but it has not been forthcoming.

He and the Ukraine have been left to face the Russian Bear, in all of its military might, on their own.

So we should not be surprised that he has agreed in principle to a ceasefire.  What was his alternative?

We don’t really know how Putin got him to agree to a ceasefire.

Not to be excluded from consideration is the possibility that Putin may have reminded him of what has happened to other politicians in the past, such as Viktor Yushchenko in 2004, who almost died from poisoning but survived to become president. In London, Alexander Litvinenko was not so fortunate, succumbing to polonium poisoning.

7. Poroshenko may be saved yet, however, by Putin’s ambitions and duplicity.

Whereas once Putin might have been content with a “frozen conflict” in the Ukraine that would keep it out of NATO and probably the EU, now that the Europeans have been diverted from the imposition of cutting sanctions–such as exclusion from the Western financial system or the SWIFT system of international funds transfers–bigger goals may have come into sight as Russia’s army is on the march and meeting little opposition.

Putin has achieved all of the above at neglible cost to his wealth or grip on power.

He may now decide to continue his quest for a land corridor connecting the Crimea with Russia proper. The invasion and advance toward Meriupol suggests he is thinking of that.

And later, if he conducts one or more stealth invasions in the Baltics to protect the Russian minorities there, he may be able to bring all of NATO crashing down. Even German Defense Minister van der Leyden has been quoted as saying, in an unguarded moment, that if such an invasion were to occur, NATO would be “dead”.

The defeat of NATO would be a historic triumph for Russia, and Vladimir Putin, after the humiliation of the dismemberment of Greater Russia in 1989.

8. To counter the threat from Putin and Russia, the EU, NATO and the U.S. should be thinking strategically, and devising plans to contain Russia and its nationalistic and irredentist ambitions, by military means if necessary.

Russia, so long as it is led by Putin or someone like him, represents an existential threat to NATO, the U.S. and the European Union.

9. it should be evident that Putin is full of propaganda and lies, has a duplicitous and thuggish nature, and can never be trusted.

It is as if we were negotiating with Adolf Hitler in 1938, hoping he would act nice if we just put enough effort into our diplomacy and showed sufficient understanding of his demands.

The Trenchant Observer