Archive for the ‘France’ Category

Ukraine reports capture of two Russian tanks — providing further proof of ongoing Russian military intervention

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Further evidence of the ongoing military intervention by Russia in the Ukraine was made public today when the Ukrainian government announced it had captured two Russian tanks in the Luhansk area.

According to the Ukrainian military spokesman, Andrei Lysenko, the tanks were from a company of the First Parachute Company (No. 74268) of the Air-Land Division based in Pskov (Russia), some 290 kilometers southwest of St Petersberg near the border with Estonia. According to documents found at the scene and blog posts by one of the members of the tank crews, Lev Schlosberg, the tanks had been sent to the Crimea in February.

See

“Ukrainische Armee erobert nahe Luhansk russische Panzer; Bei Kämpfen rund um die ostukrainische Stadt Luhansk hat die Armee nach eigenen Angaben zwei Panzer erobert. Sie stammen demnach aus einer russischen Kompanie in Pskow,” Die Zeit, 21. August 2014 (13:50 Uhr).

Ukrainische Soldaten hätten die Fahrzeuge der Luftlandedivision aus dem russischen Pskow in ihre Gewalt gebracht, sagte der ukrainische Armeesprecher Andrej Lyssenko.

Die ukrainische Armee hat bei Kämpfen um die von Separatisten kontrollierte Stadt Luhansk nach eigenen Angaben zwei russische Armeepanzer erobert. Ukrainische Soldaten hätten die Fahrzeuge der Luftlandedivision aus dem russischen Pskow in ihre Gewalt gebracht, sagte der ukrainische Armeesprecher Andrej Lyssenko. Russland dementierte die Angaben. “Unter den täglichen angeblichen Aufdeckungen russischer Präsenz in der Ukraine ist das jetzt schon das 1001. Beweisstück”, sagte der russische Armeesprecher Igor Konaschenkow der amtlichen Nachrichtenagentur Itar-Tass.

Nach ukrainischen Angaben befanden sich in einem der Fahrzeuge Militärdokumente und ein Führerschein. Demnach gehörten die Panzer zur Einheit 74268 der ersten Fallschirmspringer-Kompanie der Luftlandedivision Pskow im Nordwesten Russlands. Diese an der Grenze zu Estland und Lettland stationierte Division war in der Vergangenheit in zahlreichen Konflikten im Einsatz. Im Februar hatte der Abgeordnete von Pskow, Lew Schlosberg, in seinem Blog geschrieben, die Division sei auf die später von Russland annektierte ukrainischen Halbinsel Krim entsendet worden.

This evidence adds to the overwhelming amount of accumulated evidence demonstrating that Russia has been conducting an ongoing invasion of the eastern Ukraine, originally intended to be beneath the radar in the new Russian form of a “stealth invasion”.

The invasion constitutes an “armed attack” within the meaning of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, triggering the “inherent right” of individual or collective self-defense which authorizes the Ukraine and any other state which elects to join it to undertake military and other measures to stop the invading forces.

These military actions must be necessary and proprtional to securing the goal of halting the Russian aggression, but need not be limited to the territory of the Ukraine. In principle, they could include military measures taken against and within Russia itself.

The invasion 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”.

Under international law, the Ukraine also has the right to restore public order, and to put on trial those responsible for committing acts of insurrection and other crimes within its sovereign national territory.

The Trenchant Observer

Why should the West help Putin “save face” in the Ukraine?

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Developing

The diplomats are thinking of ways to stop the fighting in the Donbass, and a way to help Vladimir Putin to “save face” in order to get him to stop supporting (and coordinating) the so-called “separatists” now holed up in Donetsk and Luhansk

See Maria Tsvetroya and Noah Barkin (Donetsk and Berlin), “Advancing Ukraine troops take fight to heart of pro-Moscow rebellion,” August 19, 2014 (3:52pm EDT).

Why should the West do that?

Why should the West do anything to help Putin save face?

Leaders and diplomats need to stop and think. Is it always best to “freeze” a hostage situation when the criminals are armed, have already killed many people, and more people are dying each day as the security forces seek to disarm the criminals and restore public order?

There is only one thing that should be negotiated with the “separatists” and Vladimir Putin—the man who sent them to invade the eastern Ukraine:   the terms of their surrender, which might possibly include transit out of the country to Russia.

To seek to oblige the Ukraine to surrender part of its sovereignty (by agreeing to Russian demands regarding its domestic affairs) so that the military aggressor will cease his aggression, is simply to continue down the road of appeasement which led us to where we are today.

Vladimir Putin is responsible for the deaths of over 2,000 people in the eastern Ukraine.

No one should help him save face for launching a military invasion by irregular forces, in flagrant violation of the U.N. Charter and international law, in the eastern Ukraine.

International law must be upheld.

It is not the task of international law to help an aggressor save face, just as it is not the task of law in a domestic situation to help a hostage-taker or murderer save face.

A larger issue is also involved here. Putin and his war propaganda machine are responsible for fanning the flames of xenophobic nationalism and support for policies of aggression in Russia. The biggest challenge for the West is to find ways to put out the flames of that zenophobic and irredentist nationalism, before it shows up again at the borders of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Putin should not be helped to “save face”. The whole course of negotiating terms of appeasement by the West should be abandoned.

Instead, harsher “stage 3″ sanctions should now be imposed by the EU, the U.S., and their allies, in execution of the threats they have made of actions to be imposed if Russia didn’t halt its support of the “separatists”.

Russia has not halted that support.

A defeat of the “separatists” in the Donbass is an outcome the Ukrainian people and their military forces deserve, and have earned with the loss of so many military and civilian lives in a war of self-defense. Under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, they have the “inherent right” to exercise that right, and to call upon other nations to join them in repelling Russian aggression by taking “collective measures” of self-defense.

The Trenchant Observer

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

Le Nouvel Observateur: The scandalous history and details of the sale of two Mistral-class attack warships to Russia

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Early draft – developing

There is no domestic opposition to the French sale of two Mistral-class attack warships to Russia because all leading politicians, from Nicholas Sarkozy to Francois Hollande, are deep in the scandal up to their eyeballs.

The Russians showed interest in the “jewel” of the French defense industry shortly after their invasion of Georgia in 2008, where they encountered force coordination problems that the Mistral would have solved.

A Russian military leader explained how useful the warship could be in the event the Russian-speaking population of Estonia was threatened by mob actions, as it would allow Russian military forces to quickly intervene with soldiers on the ground in time to protect the Russian minority.

Top admirals in the French Navy opposed the deal.

President Francois Hollande, while speaking beautiful words at ceremonies this summer commemorating the outbreak of World War I, has been craven in putting French commercial interests ahead of the security interests of NATO member states, even after the Russian invasion and annexation of the Crimea, and its invasion by irregular forces of the eastern Ukraine. He was responsible for the EU “stage 3″ sanctions of July 31 not banning existing defense contracts, due to his tenacity in defending the sale of the Mistral warships. Other NATO countries, and Japan, strongly oppose their delivery.

In addition to the sale of the first two Mistral-class amphibious warships, the agreement between France and Russia envisions the construction of a third and a fourth warship in St. Petersburg, Russia. The deal will, in effect, include technology transfer that will allow Russia to make advances in naval warfare technology that otherwise would have taken 10 years to achieve.

It is clear that France is setting its own barrowly-conceived commercial interests above the collective security requirements of the NATO alliance, in a manner which will damage the defense posture of all members of the alliance.

If the EU and NATO cannot prevent a perfidious France from giving away the “crown jewels” of French defense technology to Russia, a nation which has invaded and currently occupies part of the territory of an important European state in open defiance of bedrock principles of the United Nations Charter, it is hard to see much utility in or future for the Atlantic Alliance.

For the shocking details, see:

Vincent Jauvert, “Mistral: enquête sur un contrat qui dérange, Le Nouvel Observateur, 10 aout 2014.

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

Could the Russian truck convoy be a feint? Watch carefully the rest of the border, and what is coming with the convoy. After Putin, when the Maidan comes to Red Square.

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Developing

What will remain of Putin’s current glory, built on the invasion and “annexation” of part of a key European country and rejection of the bedrock principles of the U.N. Charter, when the Maidan comes to Red Square?

Social media report a New York Times reporter has been allowed to look inside trucks in the convoy of his own selection, and that he found only goods for humanitarian assistance.

What was striking about the pictures that have emerged is that the trucks are not fully loaded. Not more than 20-25% of the space within the truck was filled.

If this truck was representative, that means one of two things:

(1) either far fewer trucks were necessary to transport the “humanitarian assistance” in the convoy;

(2) or additional cargo may yet be added to the trucks before they reach the separatists.

Moreover, given Putin’s cunning tactical brilliance as a KGB man, the Ukraine and the West should be looking very closely at what is passing into the Ukraine at other points along the border.

Also, at least one photograph on social media shows a tank being transported by a military vehicle alongside the “humanitarian aid” truck convoy. So special care should be taken to monitor what else enters the Ukraine, alongside or behind the “humanitarian aid” convoy.

The West Should Act Now

The U.S., the EU, and NATO should not hesitate one minute longer to take very strong additional measures against Russia and Vladimir Putin, the Russian clown with nuclear missiles. These measures should include harsh sanctions with immediate effect, and significant military aid to the Ukraine beginning at once.

Trashing the Russian “Brand

Putin and the Russians who have given him their support have trashed the “Russian brand” in the short space of six months. As long as Russia occupies the Crimea, Russia will become increasingly isolated from the West and the other civilized nations of the world.

Only the departure of Putin will open the road toward a rapprochement with the West, and the development of arms control, confidence-building, military and economic ties with the Western democracies.

The latter, in the coming years, should and probably will work much more energetically and successfully to secure backing for sanctions against Russia, for its aggression against the Ukraine and continuing occupation of the Crimea, by the other nations of the world, including the BRICS countries.

This is the way they can safeguard their access to Russian markets once Putin is gone.

When the Maidan Comes to Red Square

Albert Camus wrote in his famous “Letter to a German Friend” the following:

“And you who were already conquered in your greatest victories, what will you be in the approaching defeat?” – Albert Camus, First Letter to a German Friend(1943)

What will remain of Putin’s current glory, built on the invasion and “annexation” of part of a key European country and rejection of the bedrock principles of the U.N. Charter, when the Maidan comes to Red Square?

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 order hangs in the balance.

The Trenchant Observer