Archive for the ‘France’ Category

U.S., France, U.K. and other members should vehemently oppose any Russian-backed Security Council resolution endorsing Minsk II agreement

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

News reports speak of the intention of Russia to bring a resolution to the U.N. Security Council which would incorporate the terms of the Minsk II agreement reached on February 12.

See

“Ukraine-Krise: Poroschenko will bei Scheitern der Waffenruhe Kriegsrecht verhängen,” Der Siegel, 14. Februar 2015 (18:30 Uhr).

“Russland brachte einen Resolutionsentwurf in den Weltsicherheitsrat ein, mit dem die Vereinbarungen der Minsker Friedensgespräche vom Donnerstag festgehalten werden sollen. Wie die Staatsagentur Tass berichtete, könnte das mächtige Uno-Gremium an diesem Sonntag darüber abstimmen. Frühere Uno-Resolutionen hatte Russland blockiert.”

While such a resolution endorsing the original Minsk Protocol might have been a good idea, the U.S., France, the United Kingdom and other Security Council members should oppose and vote against any resolution that would endorse the Minsk II agreement.

What is at issue is the fact that Article 2 paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter prohibits “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

This is a principle of jus cogens or mandatory international law to which there can be no exception, even by agreement. As we pointed out yesterday, this means that the provision in the Minsk II agreement that would delay restoration of control of the border to the Ukraine up to the end of 2015, contingent on the “separatists” agreeing to various measures called for in the Minsk II agreement, is null and void under international law.

Consequently, Russia is under an international legal obligation to withdraw its troops, tanks, artillery, irregular fighters and other war equipment immediately, and to halt its military aggression in the eastern Ukraine immediately.

If a U.N. Security Council resolution endorses or incorporates the terms of the Minsk II agreement, this could change. Security Council resolutions under Chapter VII of the Charter are binding on all member states.

If such a resolution were to be adopted, Russia could then argue that the Security Council had authorized it to remain in the eastern Ukraine until at least the end of 2015, and that the provisions requiring approval by the Donetsk and Luhansk “separatist” leaders were binding on all states under international law.

In this way, while the Western powers are asleep, Putin and Russia will have succeeed in creating  “a frozen conflict” that is backed by a legally binding Security Council resolution.

Some experts in international law might still argue that the Security Council had exceeded its powers, but this would be a purely academic debate of no relevance to the national decision makers responsible for acting to manage and resolve the conflict in the eastern Ukraine.

If states want to freeze the conflict in the eastern Ukraine by backing the Minsk II agreement with a binding Chapter VII resolution, they should vote with the Russians.

If they want Russian military aggression against the Ukraine to cease forthwith, they should vehemently oppose and vote against any such Russian-backed resolution.

Any Security Council resolution on the Ukraine should call for:

(1) the immediate withdrawal of all Russian forces and war machines and equipment from the eastern Ukraine;

(2) the immediate withdrawal of all other Russian irregular and special operations forces and equipment from the eastern Ukraine; and

(3) the immediate cessation of Russian supplies of weapons, machines of war and other equipment to the so-called “separatists” in the Donbas region of the Ukraine.

The Minsk II Agreement has a lot of well-sounding language in it, as did the original Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014.

Putin through systematic violations of the Minsk Protocol, with the direct participation of Russian military forces and equipment in the fighting in the eastern Ukraine, has changed the facts on the ground, and forced Petro Poroshenko and his French and German supporters to make further concessions in the Minsk II agreement.

Virtually all of the changes from the original Minsk Protocol of September 5 and the implementing Minsk Memorandum of September 19 have been secured through further, intensified, and more transparent Russian aggression against the Ukraine.

This Russian perfidy should not be endorsed by the Security Council, or anyone else.

Russia needs to get its troops, weapons, special operatives and irregular forces out of the Ukraine along with all their weapons, to immediately halt their supply of weapons and equipment to the so-called “separatists”, and to comply fully with the ceasefire and heavy weapons withdrawal provisions of the Minsk II agreement.

Meanwhile, the U.S. the EU and NATO should prepare to ban Russia from the SWIFT international payments system, boycott or move the 2018 FIFA World Cup competition from Russia to a non-aggressor state, prepare crippling sectoral economic sanctions against Russia, deliver lethal defensive weapons to Kiev, and begin moving NATO troops to the eastern front with Russia, should Russia or the “separatists” (Putin’s puppets) fail to comply with the ceasefire, withdrawal and other provisions of the Minsk Protocol and the Minsk II Agreement of February 12.

Putin should have no illusions that continued military aggression against the Ukraine will be able to avoid a hardball conflict with the West, in which his tanks and war machines will prove no match for the economic weapons at the disposal of the West, which can bring the Russian economy to a halt.

The Trenchant Observer

Minsk II Agreement of February 12, 2015 (with full texts in English and Russian)

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

Updated, revised and corrected on February 13, 2014

(Originally published on February 12, 2015)

The Telegraph has published the full English text of the Minsk II accord of February 12, 2015 The text is found here.

The full text in English, with the points numbered and the individual signatories listed, has also been published in the Financial Times. The text is found here.

The full text in Russian, published by the OSCE, is found here.

The Minsk Ii Agreement of February 12, 2015 holds out the hope for a ceasefire from February 15, and a path toward peace in the eastern Ukraine.

However, it is a minefield, and all the cards for its successful implementation lie in Vladimir Putin’s hands.

There are, to be sure, positive aspects to the agreement, including the resumption of social payments, banking facilities, and the duty to pay taxes under Ukrainian law in rebel-controlled areas.

Nonetheless, perhaps the most striking aspect of the agreement is that the obligation to withdraw all foreign fighters and equipment is not tied to any timetable or deadline, while the obligation to restore the border to Ukrainian control is subject to conditions which require the agreement of local separatist leaders, with a deadline for restoring Ukrainian control of the border that extends until the end of 2015.

It will be quite difficult to verify the withdrawal of Russian fighters so long as the border is not returned to Ukrainian control, pending agreement on elections, and legal and constitutional reforms. Should they be so inclined, Putin and the so-called “separatists” (his puppets) will as a result have endless opportunities to quarrel about implementation.

In effect, German Chancellor Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko have achieved more promises from President Vladimir Putin, who continues to deny that Russia even has troops, tanks, armor and soldiers in the Ukraine–despite overwhelming proof to the contrary.

More significantly, they have agreed to give Russia until the end of 2015 to comply with the most fundamental norm 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.”

This provision is a norm of jus cogens or mandatory international law, from which there can be no exception by way of agreement. As such, the provisions in the Minsk II agreement which suspend the binding effect of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the Charter would appear to be void ab initio, with no legal effect.

Consequently, Russia remains under an international legal obligation, not subject to conditions, to immediately withdraw its forces, tanks, artillery and other equipment from the territory of the Ukraine.

These provisions subject to conditions amount to no more than political commitments from an aggressor state which is not known for its veracity or carrying through on its promises, and the victim  of its aggression, and the latter’s supporters, in an agreement concluded at the end of the barrel of a gun.

Moreover, the agreement does not address the Russian conquest and purported “annexation” of the Crimea, which under international law remains Ukrainian territory under Russian military occupation.

Without the United States, NATO, and the European Union participating in the Minsk Summit of February 11-12, this was probably the most Merkel, Hollande, and Poroshenko could have extracted from Putin at this time.

The agreement probably represents the end of the road in terms of what can be achieved by verbal diplomacy not backed by more forceful instruments of national power. The next time negotiations are undertaken, e.g., to ensure compliance with this agreement, they should be led by the U.S., NATO, and the EU, not France and Germany.

Echoing Neville Chamberlain after he and Eduard Daladier of France signed the infamous Munich Pact in September, 1938, the German and French leaders might well say that they have achieved “peace in our time”.

Unfortunately, Chancellor Merkel and President Hollande were so obtuse as to not even secure Vladimir Putin’s signature on the document, failing to understand the political significance of such an act.

The agreement should be signed by Putin, Merkel, Hollande, and Poroshenko, even at this late hour. Putin’s signature would add greatly to the pressures, both at home and abroad, for him to comply with its terms.

Perhaps the Minsk II agreement will produce a ceasefire that will hold for a time, and save lives. That would be good. Perhaps Putin will abandon his plan for producing a “frozen conflict” in the Ukraine that will prevent that country from ever joining NATO, or even the European Union, and even lead him to drop the idea of building a “land bridge” to the Crimea. That would be really good.

But if one considers Russia’s pattern of duplicity and lies, from supporting Bashar al-Assad in Syria as he broke every agreement he ever made, beginning in 2011, to Russia’s own monstrous lies and deceptions regarding the Ukraine during the last year, including its own violation of the April 17, 2014 Geneva Agreement, the September 5, 2014 Minsk Protocol, the September 19, 2014 Minsk Memorandum, as well as the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter itself,  there would appear to be few grounds for hope that such a change might occur.

What Putin has achieved at Minsk II is to deflect the pressure in the U.S. for immediately sending “lethal weapons” in significant quantities to Kiev, and the decisions of individual EU member states to do likewise. He has also succeeded in providing both Americans and EU members who oppose imposing really harsh, sectoral sanctions—now—for Russia’s recent and continuing invasion of the eastern Ukraine, many new arguments to delay or defeat their adoption.

In a word, the only real winner at Minsk II appears to have been Vladimir Putin.

What the U.S.and the EU should do now is to draft very harsh sectoral sanctions (which can be imposed immediately by the U.S. acting alone—while the EU seeks to develop its consensus), and to begin gathering and staging the supply of “lethal weapons” to Kiev so that the decision can be executed immediately upon its adoption. They should maintain intense pressure on Putin, not with words or threats, but with actions and facts on the ground (e.g., preparing really harsh sectoral sanctions, including expulsion from the SWIFT international payments system, actually shipping lethal arms to staging areas in NATO countries for quick delivery to Kiev if such a decion is made) so that he might actually turn away from his present course of war in the Ukraine.

We can hope for the best in terms of Putin’s implementation of the Minsk II agreement, but need to prepare earnestly to act quickly and energetically through economic and other means if he doesn’t adhere to its terms, in order to bring Russia’s aggression against the Ukraine, including its military occupation of the Crimea, to an early end.

Finally, the definitive and authoritative document should at all costs be circulated to Merkel, Hollande, Poroshenko and Putin, so that their signatures are affixed to it. As noted, it is of paramount importance that the signature of Vladimir Putin appear on the final document, if there is to be any hope that he might actually adhere to its terms.

In domestic law, an agreement that leaves essential terms open to be agreed in the future is known as an “illusory contract”, is not binding, and in fact is not a contract at all.  It may become binding, however, if in the course of its performance those essential terms are supplied.

Let us hope that the Minsk II agreement may become more than illusory as its essential terms are filled in during the course of its performance.

That is a hope, however, not a binding agreement that resolves the conflict—which is driven by Russian military aggression. It’s not something you would want to bet the farm on.

The Trenchant Observer

February 11 Minsk Summit on the Ukraine: Latest update and analysis (Updated February 10, 2015)

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Updated February 10, 2015

BACKGROUND

The following articles, by some of the most experienced and incisive commentators writing on international affairs, provide the context and background necessary to understand the negotiations planned for the Minsk summit on November 11:

(1) Anne Applebaum, “The long view with Russia,” Washington Post, February 8, 2015.

(2) Roger Cohen, “Western Illusions Over Ukraine,” New York Times, February 9, 2015.

(3) Julia Smirnva, “Was erhofft sich Putin von Verhandlungen? Diplomatie auf höchster Ebene soll die Ukraine-Krise beenden. Russlands Präsident Putin scheint bei den Gesprächen mit dem Westen darauf zu setzen, dass die Krise zum “eingefrorenen Konflikt” wird,” Die Welt, 9. February 2015.

Angela Merkel, François Hollande, Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin are to meet in Minsk on Wednesday, February 11, 2015, to see if they can hammer out some kind of a “deal” that will include a ceasefire in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of the Ukraine known as the Donbas, and perhaps other areas where the so-called “separatists” (Putin’s puppets) have, with active Russian military participation, extended the territory under their control.

Putin’s objectives will be to make just enough concessions to confuse the Europeans and make the renewal of existing economic sanctions against Russia over the Ukraine as problematic and uncertain as possible, while sowing divisions among the EU’s members that will make the imposition of new and really tough sectoral sanctions impossible given the unaniminity requirement for action by the EU.

He will also seek to forestall any decision—much less action!—by President Barack Obama to send “lethal” military weapons and other assistance to Kiev, or for European countries to even consider doing so.  Here he will be trying to intimidate both the Europeans and the Americans and make them fear his reaction if they do send weapons, and certainly to make them have qualms about sending arms in a quantity and manner than could really make a difference on the ground.

Today’s leaders, in Europe as in the United States, seem to have little grasp of history, international law, or the origins and history of the United Nations. Their response to Russian military aggression against the Ukraine, beginning in the Crimea in February, has been one of incredulity followed by laughable “sanctions” against Russia that were always “too little, too late”.

Throughout, their fear of the aggressor and unwillingness to contemplate any military moves–such as sending arms to Kiev–has given Putin an open playing field where, having militarily dismantled the border between Russia and the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of the Ukraine, he has been left free to move tanks, artillery, advanced air defense weapons systems, and other advanced electronic equipment, as well as thousands of Russian special operations forces, irregular forces, and regular Russian troops and equipment back and forth across the border at will.

If Western leaders did know something of history, they might remember that the United Nations was established to provide international peace and security, above all else, to the nations of the world, based on the concept of collective security. Thus, when a state was the object of aggression, the U.N. Security Council was to be called upon to take action to restore international peace and security, including binding measures and the authorization of the use of military force to secure that objective.

However, given the veto in the Security Council which was granted to the five great and victorious powers in 1945–the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China–the U.N. Charter also provided for the taking of measures of “collective self-defense” up to and including the use of force whenever an “armed attack” was committed against one of its members, (a rule later extended to include all states).

The concept was not that some states would come to the collective self-defense only of other states in a military alliance to which they belonged (such as NATO, which was not formed until 1949), but rather that any and all willing states could come to the defense of any state which was the victim of an armed attack.

This concept is worth preserving, since the alternative is a large number of overlapping military alliances (such as the Warsaw Pact, or the system of regional collective security under the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (or “Rio Treaty”) established in the Americas under the auspices of the Organization of American States.

The original Charter scheme of collective security made sense in 1945, and it makes sense now.

Any state should feel free and legally authorized to take measures to aid the Ukraine in collective self-defense in repelling Russian aggression, as authorized by Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. This includes sending arms, or even troops.

The idea was and remains that any country that was the victim of an “armed attack” had the right to benefit from military assistance from any other states in order to repel and bring to an end the armed attack. Thus, from its very inception, the United Nations Charter created a system in which a country such as the Ukraine which was the victim of an armed attack carried out by a country such as Russia would as a matter of course be entitled to receive military assistance, including lethal arms or even troops, from other states acting in collective self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

The United Nations Charter also embodied another idea: the sovereign equality of all states, and their rights under the Charter and international law not to be coerced by large military powers to adopt policies and actions in subordination of their sovereign will.

In other words, the old “balance of power” system from the 19th century, which had led to two world wars in the 20th century, was to be replaced by a system based on the basic principles of the Charter, which included the prohibition of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, and the obligation of states to conduct their international relations in accordance with the Charter, international law, and treaties to which they were parties that had been validly concluded under international law.

That is the scheme of the United Nations Charter, and the system of international peace and security which up until 2014 never encountered a frontal rejection such as that represented by Russia’s military aggression against the Ukraine during the last year, and its “annexation” of the Crimea, Russian-occupied territory of the Ukraine.

The biggest issue the delegates to the Minsk summit on Wednesday will face may not be at the top of the list of their immediate concerns, but it remains the biggest issue nonetheless:

What is to be done about the Russian invasion, occupation and purported “annexation” of the Crimea?

As news stories about the latest negotiations in Minsk hit the headlines, it will be useful for the readers bear in mind the broader context in which the negotiations are taking place.

They should bear in mind the monstrous lies Putin and his propaganda machine, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, have been telling–denying for example that Russia has sent any troops and tanks, etc. into the Donbas.

They should bear in mind that Putin has not honored a single agreement Russia has made on the Ukraine.

They should bear in mind what the United Nations Charter and international law have to say about military aggression by one country invading another.

See “Russia’s utter and continuing violation of international law in the Ukraine: U.N. General Assembly Resolution A/RES/25/2625 (1970) on Principles of International Law and Friendly Relations Among States,” The Trenchant Observer, February 8, 2015.

They should bear in mind the risks of inadvertent nuclear war in view of the present collision course on which NATO and Russia are embarked, and the risks of further acts of appeasement leading to heightened risks of further conflict driven by an emboldened Vladimir Putin, whose goals appear to include disabling NATO and Europe, and not just winning in the Ukraine.

See “Strategy beyond the Ukraine: It’s time to start thinking about the risks of nuclear war with Russia, and of appeasement,” The Trenchant Observer, February 8, 2015.

“Putin’s Larger Plan: The sobering facts of Russia’s assault on Europe and the West,” The Trenchant Observer, December 1, 2014.

They should bear in mind that the real issue is the prompt adoption of really biting sectoral sanctions against Russia so long as it keeps its troops and ongoing military operations underway in the Ukraine.

Sanctions which might be adopted now include the following:

Immediate steps that can be taken would be to block Russia’s access to the SWIFT international payments system, to impose much broader sectoral sanctions on the Russian economy, to organize a boycott of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia (militating for a change of venue to a non-aggressor state), and to add Vladimir Putin himself to the sanctions list, including the freezing of all of his assets abroad.

Putin has machines of war and soldiers in and near the Ukraine to continue his military aggression against that country. The West has far more powerful economic weapons that it can use to defend the Ukraine, and if necessary to bring Russia’s economy to a halt. With an active Russian military invasion of the eastern Ukraine in progress, and accelerating, while Russian military occupation of the Ukrainian territory of the Crimea continues, the West should use those weapons now, decisively.

The Trenchant Observer

Strategy beyond the Ukraine: It’s time to start thinking about the risks of nuclear war with Russia, and of appeasement

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

The world stands at a perilous point where the risks of an accidental (or other) nuclear war with Russia are greater than they have been since the most perilous points in the Cold War, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, 1962 and the Yom Kippur War between Israel and the Arab states in 1973.

According to news reports, there is no functioning liaison between American and Russian nuclear officials. In the United States, funds for verification of Russian compliance with arms control treaties have been cut, while appropriations for new and better nuclear weapons have grown.

On the American side, no one seems to have been in charge. The stories of American ICBM crews cheating on preparedness tests seem to be but the tip of the iceberg.

On the Russian side, we appear to have in President Putin a megalomaniac who believes that in any nuclear showdown with Barack Obama he would win, hands down.

Neither Putin nor Obama seems to understand, or to be taking active steps to mitigate, the risks of accicdental nuclear war. Putin and his prime minister, Dimitry Medvedev, have over the last several years engaged is careless and dangerous talk of nuclear war.

According to press reports, the famous “red telephone” may not be in working order, or able to be used within the 10 minutes or so a president might have to decide whether a radar image of an incoming ICBM warrants the launching of a nuclear counter-strike. Even if Obama is ready to take or make a call at 3:00 a.m., the “red phone” line may be dead or there may be nobody on the other end.

See

(1) Markus Becker (München), “Nato-Russland-Krise: Das nukleare Gespenst kehrt zurück; Die Ukraine-Krise hat die Nato und Russland in den Kalten Krieg zurückgeworfen. Die Zusammenarbeit bei der nuklearen Sicherheit wurde eingestellt, ein “Rotes Telefon” gibt es nicht mehr. Experten halten das für extrem gefährlich,” Der Spiegel, 8. Februar 2015 (18:06 Uhr).

(2) Michael Stürmer, “Die Welt ist heute gefährlicher als im Kalten Krieg; Hegemonie oder Gleichgewicht braucht Die Welt, sagte Kissinger;. Also eine Supermacht – wie die USA vorübergehend – oder zwei Supermächte – wie im Kalten Krie.;Der tGlobus ist von beidem weit entfernt, “Die Welt, 6. Februar 2015.

(3) “The Elephant in the Room: Reflections on the nuclear deterrent and the Ukraine,” The Trenchant Observer, December 1, 2014.

The world stumbled into World War I a century ago, and 75 years ago the world was thrown into the maelstrom of World War II due to the military aggression of Adolf Hitler, the West’s response of appeasement, and Hitler’s alliance with the Soviet Unuin (1939-1941) and his alliance with Japan, which led to Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Putin stated recently that he approved of the 1939 Von Rippentropp Pact of alliance between Germany and the Soviet Union, which also provided for the partition of Poland between the two signatories.

The U.S. and NATO are on a collision course with Putin and Russia.  Continued appeasement is likely to only embolden Putin and heighten, not lower, the risks of more direct conflict.

The next time Angela Merkel wants to say, “There is no military solution to the Ukraine conflict,” she should engage her brain before she speaks.

Putin believes there is a military solution that will help him resolve the conflict the way he wishes, achieving his goals.  He is avidly–and successfully–pursuing this military solution every day.

He does so even by signing peace agreements he will not honor, if he imagines that they will help him avoid some immediate countermove, such as third-round economic sanctions by the EU (agreed upon the day he signed the Minsk Protocol), or the U.S. deciding to send defensive weapons to Kiev to assist them in their own self-defense (which he may hope to avert by appearing to be cooperative at the forthcoming Minsk summit in February 11, 2014).

Yet given Putin’s duplicitous nature and his record of breaking agreements on the Ukraine, the upcoming summit in Minsk on Wednesday with François Hollande (Mr. Mistral), Angela Merkel (Mrs. coalition partner of the SDP appeasers and pacifists including her foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Vladimir Putin (Mr. military aggression), and Petro Poroshenko, the valiant leader of the Ukraine whose toughness depends on that of Hollande, Merkel, Obama, and the West, holds little promise for more than a brief respite from the killing.

The Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014 was an agreement that was about as balanced and reasonable as you could get, given ongoing Russian military advances on the ground.

Russia simply didn’t abide by its provisions, and decided to go for more military advances.

While the West frets over angering the aggressor if it sends arms to Kiev, Putin is not at all worried about sending troops, tanks, artillery, advanced air defense systems and highly sophisticated electronic equipment across the international frontier with the Ukraine, in flagrant violation of article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter. He is not afraid of angering the West, because to date they have proven to be utterly spineless.

Have American leaders forgotten that it is Putin who is violating the most basic norms of international law prohibiting the use of force, while sending lethal arms to Kiev is fully in compliance with Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which authorizes measures of collective self defense, up to and including the use of force, in response to an “armed attack”?

There can be no doubt that Russia has committed an “armed attack” against the Ukraine, first in the Crimea and then in the eastern Ukraine. As we write, Russian regular troops and other military forces are fighting against Ukrainian government forces, within the Ukraine.

However, the real issue, which no one is discussing in public, is the urgent need to impose crippling economic sanctions on Moscow.

The EU appears paralyzed, and is fighting merely to re-authorize the sanctions already in place. That leaves the heavy lifting to the United States, which should impose crippling economic sanctions now, while working to help the EU catch up as soon as possible.

Only such action might forestall further military advances by Russia in the Donbas, and progressive consolidation of its position.

The West is in for a long and formidable struggle with Russia, and should be implementing long-term policies that might contain its current military aggression while bringing Russia back into the international community that supports the U.N. Charter and international law. Its actions should be principled, and aimed not only at Putin and his coterie, but also at the new leaders who will follow him.

In this new struggle with Russia, the West’s greatest weapons are steadfast defense of its values through economic sanctions, including denial of access to technology which would otherwise permit Russia to advance to the first rank of nations.

Military and financial aid to Kiev, as well as other moves by NATO, may also be required.

Immediate steps that can be taken would be to block Russia’s access to the SWIFT international payments system, to impose much broader sectoral sanctions on the Russian economy, to organize a boycott of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia (militating for a change of venue to a non-aggressor state), and to add Vladimir Putin himself to the sanctions list, including the freezing of all of his assets abroad.

These steps would be likely to influence Russia much more than a mere decision to send arms to Kiev, however important that action may be.

It is not logic that is lacking in Washington, Brussels, Paris and Berlin, but political courage and steadfastness of purpose.

Someone had better start thinking seriously about these issues, including both the risks of nuclear war and the risks of further appeasement of Putin and Russia.  Then Western leaders must start acting forcefully to address the challenges presented, in an effective manner.

The Trenchant Observer

 

Russia’s utter and continuing violation of international law in the Ukraine: U.N. General Assembly Resolution A/RES/25/2625 (1970) on Principles of International Law and Friendly Relations Among States

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

In 1970, at the height of the Cold War and only two years after the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact Allies, the United Nations General Assembly approved Resolution A/RES/25/2625 (October 24, 1970) containing the “Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.”

The Declaration has been universally accepted and is considered today to represent a definitive codification of the international law governing the use of force. As such, it is particularly relevant to any consideration of Russia’s ongoing violations of international law in invading and occupying the Crimea, and in invading the eastern Ukraine.

The text of relevant portions of the Resolution follow:

Preamble

The General Assembly,

Reaffirming in the terms of the Charter of the United Nations that the maintenance of international peace and security and the development of friendly relations and co-operation between nations are among the fundamental purposes of the United Nations,

Recalling that the peoples of the United Nations are determined to practise tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours,

Bearing in mind the importance of maintaining and strengthening international peace founded upon freedom, equality, justice and respect for fundamental human rights and of developing friendly relations among nations irrespective of their political, economic and social systems or the levels of their development,

Bearing in mind also the paramount importance of the Charter of the United Nations in the promotion of the rule of law among nations,

Considering that the faithful observance of the principles of international law concerning friendly relations and co-operation among States and the fulfillment in good faith of the obligations assumed by States, in accordance with the Charter, is of the greatest importance for the maintenance of international peace and security and for the implementation of the other purposes of the United Nations,

Noting that the great political, economic and social changes and scientific progress which have taken place in the world since the adoption of the Charter give increased importance to these principles and to the need for their more effective application in the conduct of States wherever carried on,

Recalling the established principle that outer space, including the Moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means, and mindful of the fact that consideration is being given in the United Nations to the question of establishing other appropriate provisions similarly inspired,

Convinced that the strict observance by States of the obligation not to intervene in the affairs of any other State is an essential condition to ensure that nations live together in peace with one another, since the practice of any form of intervention not only violates the spirit and letter of the Charter, but also leads to the creation of situations which threaten international peace and security,

Recalling the duty of States to refrain in their international relations from military, political, economic or any other form of coercion aimed against the political independence or territorial integrity of any State,

Considering it essential that all States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations,

Considering it equally essential that all States shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in accordance with the Charter,

Reaffirming, in accordance with the Charter, the basic importance of sovereign equality and stressing that the purposes of the United Nations can be implemented only if States enjoy sovereign equality and comply fully with the requirements of this principle in their international relations,

Convinced that the subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a major obstacle to the promotion of international peace and security, Convinced that the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples constitutes a significant contribution to contemporary international law, and that its effective application is of paramount importance for the promotion of friendly relations among States, based on respect for the principle of sovereign equality,

Convinced in consequence that any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity and territorial integrity of a State or country or at its political independence is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter,

Considering the provisions of the Charter as a whole and taking into account the role of relevant resolutions adopted by the competent organs of the United Nations relating to the content of the principles,

Considering that the progressive development and codification of the following principles:

a.  The principle that States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations,

b  .The principle that States shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered,

c.  The duty not to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, in accordance with the Charter,

d.  The duty of States to co-operate with one another in accordance with the Charter,

e.  The principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples,

f.  The principle of sovereign equality of States,

g.  The principle that States shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the Charter,

so as to secure their more effective application within the international community, would promote the realization of the purposes of the United Nations,

Having considered the principles of international law relating to friendly relations and co-operation among States,

1.  Solemnly proclaims the following principles:

The principle that States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations

Every State has the duty to refrain in its international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. Such a threat or use of force constitutes a violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations and shall never be employed as a means of settling international issues.

A war of aggression constitutes a crime against the peace, for which there is responsibility under international law.

In accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations, States have the duty to refrain from propaganda for wars of aggression.

Every State has the duty to refrain from the threat or use of force to violate the existing international boundaries of another State or as a means of solving international disputes, including territorial disputes and problems concerning frontiers of States.

Every State likewise has the duty to refrain from the threat or use of force to violate international lines of demarcation, such as armistice lines, established by or pursuant to an international agreement to which it is a party or which it is otherwise bound to respect. Nothing in the foregoing shall be construed as prejudicing the positions of the parties concerned with regard to the status and effects of such lines under their special regimes or as affecting their temporary character.

States have a duty to refrain from acts of reprisal involving the use of force.

Every State has the duty to refrain from any forcible action which deprives peoples referred to in the elaboration of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of their right to self-determination and freedom and independence.

Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing or encouraging the organization of irregular forces or armed bands including mercenaries, for incursion into the territory of another State.

Every State has the duty to refrain from organizing, instigating, assisting or participating in acts of civil strife or terrorist acts in another State or acquiescing in organized activities within its territory directed towards the commission of such acts, when the acts referred to in the present paragraph involve a threat or use of force.

The territory of a State shall not be the object of military occupation resulting from the use of force in contravention of the provisions of the Charter. The territory of a State shall not be the object of acquisition by another State resulting from the threat or use of force. No territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal. Nothing in the foregoing shall be construed as affecting:

a.  Provisions of the Charter or any international agreement prior to the Charter regime and valid under international law; or

b.  The powers of the Security Council under the Charter.

All States shall pursue in good faith negotiations for the early conclusion of a universal treaty on general and complete disarmament under effective international control and strive to adopt appropriate measures to reduce international tensions and strengthen confidence among States.

All States shall comply in good faith with their obligations under the generally recognized principles and rules of international law with respect to the maintenance of international peace and security, and shall endeavour to make the United Nations security system based on the Charter more effective.

Nothing in the foregoing paragraphs shall be construed as enlarging or diminishing in any way the scope of thue provisions of the Charter concerning cases in which the use of force is lawful.

The principle that States shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered

Every State shall settle its international disputes with other States by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered.

States shall accordingly seek early and just settlement of their international disputes by negotiation, inquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements or other peaceful means of their choice. In seeking such a settlement the parties shall agree upon such peaceful means as may be appropriate to the circumstances and nature of the dispute.

The parties to a dispute have the duty, in the event of failure to reach a solution by any one of the above peaceful means, to continue to seek a settlement of the dispute by other peaceful means agreed upon by them.

States parties to an international dispute, as well as other States shall refrain from any action which may aggravate the Situation so as to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, and shall act in accordance with the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

International disputes shall be settled on the basis of the Sovereign equality of States and in accordance with the Principle of free choice of means. Recourse to, or acceptance of, a settlement procedure freely agreed to by States with regard to existing or future disputes to which they are parties shall not be regarded as incompatible with sovereign equality.

Nothing in the foregoing paragraphs prejudices or derogates from the applicable provisions of the Charter, in particular those relating to the pacific settlement of international disputes.

The principle concerning the duty not to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, in accordance with the Charter

No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are in violation of international law.

No State may use or encourage the use of economic political or any other type of measures to coerce another State in order to obtain from it the subordination of the exercise of its sovereign rights and to secure from it advantages of any kind. Also, no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State.

The use of force to deprive peoples of their national identity constitutes a violation of their inalienable rights and of the principle of non-intervention.

Every State has an inalienable right to choose its political, economic, social and cultural systems, without interference in any form by another State.

Nothing in the foregoing paragraphs shall be construed as enlarging or diminishing in any way the scope of the provisions of the Charter concerning cases in which the use of force is lawful.

The duty of States to co-operate with one another in accordance with the Charter

The principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples

The principle of sovereign equality of States

All States enjoy sovereign equality. They have equal rights and duties and are equal members of the international community, notwithstanding differences of an economic, social, political or other nature.

In particular, sovereign equality includes the following elements:

a.  States are judicially equal;

b.  Each State enjoys the rights inherent in full sovereignty;

c.  Each State has the duty to respect the personality of other States;

d.  The territorial integrity and political independence of the State are inviolable;

e.  Each State has the right freely to choose and develop its political, social, economic and cultural systems;

f.  Each State has the duty to comply fully and in good faith with its international obligations and to live in peace with other States.

The principle that States shall fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by them in accordance with the Charter.

Every State has the duty to fulfil in good faith the obligations assumed by it in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Every State has the duty to fulfil in good faith its obligations under the generally recognized principles and rules of international law.

Every State has the duty to fulfil in good faith its obligations under international agreements valid under the generally recognized principles and rules of international law.

Where obligations arising under international agreements are in conflict with the obligations of Members of the United Nations under the Charter of the United Nations, the obligations under the Charter shall prevail.

General Part

2.Declares that:

In their interpretation and application the above principles are interrelated and each principle should be construed in the context of the other principles. Nothing in this Declaration shall be construed as prejudicing in any manner the provisions of the Charter or the rights and duties of Member States under the Charter or the rights of peoples under the Charter, taking into acchount the elaboration of these rights in this Declaration;

3. Declares further that:

The principles of the Charter which are embodied in this Declaration constitute basic principles of international law, and consequently  appeals to all States to be guided by these principles in their international conduct and to develop their mutual relations on the basis of the strict observance of these principles

 

***

Analysis

These are binding principles of international law.

These principles of international law have been developed and agreed to over the last four hundred years, and particularly over the last century with the experience and hindsight of the devastation and suffering of World War I and World War II which,  in the words of the Preamble of the United Nations Charter, “have caused untold suffering to mankind.”

Any agreement with Valdimir Putin and the Russian Federation to halt and undo their aggression in the Ukraine, including the purported “annexation” of the Russian-occupied territory of the Ukraine known as the Crimea and the City of Sevastopol, must necessarily be consistent with these legal norms, if the postwar system for maintaining international peace and security established in the United Nations Charter is to be upheld.

The Trenchant Observer

REPRISE: Kiev caves in to Russian military threats, offering far-reaching concessions in eastern Ukraine; Pacifism and appeasement grip Wasington and Europe; First signs of Russian military intervention appear, as troops on border are poised to strike

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Originally published April 12, 2014

The Atmosphere in Washington

On Saturday, April 12, The New York Times did not have a story (or even a reference) on its front page on the Ukraine.

The Wall Street Journal, however, in a superb article by Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, published a penetrating account of the extent to which top U.S. civilian and military leaders are in the grip of President Obama’s pacifism and approach of appeasement.

See Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Tries to Help Ukraine, Reassure Allies Without Riling Russia; Obama Administration, NATO Face Quandary as They Plan Response to Moscow’s Annexation of Crimea, April 12, 2014.

Entous and Barnes offer a few illustrative examples:

(1) Seeking to demonstrate strong American support for Ukraine, U.S. military planners considered using Air Force planes to ferry food rations to outnumbered and underequipped Ukrainian troops facing superior Russian forces across the border.

Pentagon leaders settled instead for a less-conspicuous operation: They sent the promised meals-ready-to-eat, or MREs, in commercial trucks from storehouses in Germany.

(2) “Ukrainian forces got the MREs late last month, about two weeks after requesting aid. The White House says it is still reviewing other items on Kiev’s wish-list, including medical kits, uniforms, boots and military socks.

“‘You want to calibrate your chest-thumps,” a senior military official said of the step-by-step American response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military moves. “He does something else in Ukraine, we release the socks.'”

Yatsenyuk’s Offer on of Sweeping Concessions, and Escalating Unrest in the East

Meanwhile, in Donetsk on Friday, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, in a move signaling a cave-in to Russian pressures and military threats–as few signs suggested that the West would support the Ukraine in defending its territory against a second Russian invasion–offered concessions so broad that they would undermine the unity and sovereignty of the Ukrainian state, if they were ever accepted and implemented.

Protesters, however, seem to be following a different script, dictated by Moscow. An escalating wave of seizures of government buildings by armed protesters continued on Saturday, promising to make the holding of Ukrainian national elections on May 25 all but untenable in the eastern parts of the country where the protests are centered.

The Guardian has provided an overview of the latest developments in the Ukraine, including the concessions offered by Yatsenyuk in Donetsk on Friday:

Protesters in Donetsk have called on Russia to deploy peacekeepers to facilitate a referendum on independence by 11 May.

Yatsenyuk did not agree to a referendum but suggested the system of regional administrations appointed by the president should be replaced by executive committees elected by regional parliaments, which would have “all financial, economic, administrative and other powers to control the corresponding region”.

He also recommended that the parliament approve legislation that would change the constitution to allow for local referendums, a move strongly supported by the leaders of the Donetsk occupation.

Yatsenyuk said changes to the country’s constitution should be approved before a presidential election planned for 25 May that the Kiev regime has said will fully legitimise the new government.

–Alec Luhn in Donetsk, Oksana Grytsenko in Luhansk and agencies, “Ukraine fails to break stalemate with pro-Russian protesters in east; Arseniy Yatsenyuk promises devolution to local government in hope of staving off demands for their independence from Kiev,” The Guardian, Friday 11 April 2014 (15.03 EDT).

The tactics being used are from the Crimea playbook, with reported escalations today (Saturday, April 12) involving military units not wearing military insignia.

See Gregory L. White and Lukas I. Alpert, “Pro-Russian Protests Spread in Eastern Ukraine; Armed Men in Military-Style Uniforms Move to Commandeer Government Offices, Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2014 (updated 7:23 p.m. ET) .

White and Alpert report:

Witnesses said the men who took over the buildings in Slavyansk weren’t the local activists who had led protests in the region in recent weeks.

Instead, they appeared better-equipped and trained, carrying military-style gear and weapons, but with no insignia on their camouflage uniforms.

Such descriptions were similar to the thousands of troops who moved into and took over Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula last month, leading quickly to Russia’s annexation. Those troops were later confirmed to be Russian, though Moscow never officially admitted that.

See also:

“Kämpfe in mehreren Städten der Ostukraine; Im Osten der Ukraine bekämpfen sich prorussische Aktivisten und Sicherheitskräfte. Präsident Alexander Turtschinow berief für den Abend den nationalen Sicherheitsrat ein,”Die Zeit, .”12. April 2014 (19:20 Uhr).

The growing protests and incipient violence appear to be setting the stage for Russian military intervention, by the 40,000-80,000 troops that have been mobilized in preparation for such action.

The Diplomatic Front

On the diplomatic front, Russia is playing the same delaying game it played in Syria, talking of diplomatic solutions and illusory “agreements”, while gaining time for other kinds of solutions produced by the use of military force on the ground.

The strategy has been successful in Syria, and it should come as no surprise that the Russians are following a similar script in their diplomacy vis-à-vis the Ukraine.

The near-constant diplomatic contacts between Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry, and others, serve two important Russian purposes.

First, they allow the Kremlin to monitor with great precision the intentions and potential actions of the at times compulsively transparent Obama administration, and its Western allies.

Second, they offer excellent opportunities to divide the Western countries by planting false seeds of hope. For example, Lavrov offered earnest reassurances to Kerry that Russia had no intention of violating the territorial integrity of the Ukraine, only days before the Russian invasion of that country. Similarly, Russian President Vladimir Putin assured German Chancellor Angela Merkel that Russian troops on the border with Ukraine would be withdrawn (or significantly reduced). No such drawdown has occurred, and indeed the build-up has continued.

A similar hope, in all likelihood also illusory, has been offered that if the West does not anger Russian President Vladimir Putin by its responses to Russia’s actions, he will not invade the eastern Ukraine.

Under current circumstances, it is a very bad idea for the U.S. and the EU to meet with Russia on April 17 to discuss the Ukraine’s fate, even with the Ukraine also participating.

See The Trenchant Observer, “Munich II: The meeting in Geneva between the U.S., the EU, the Ukraine and Russia, April 11, 2014.

The meeting, to find a “diplomatic solution” to “the “Ukrainian Crisis” provides Russia with an excellent opportunity to continue its strategy of deception and delay, dividing the West and offering illusory hopes to defuse the momentum for the adoption of any serious responses.

John Kerry, Sergey Lavrov, Catherine Ashton of the EU, and the Ukraine will meet in a context in which only Russia can gain, either by securing “Munich II”-style concessions from the West at the expense of the Ukraine, or by sowing division and doubt among the countries of the West.

Yatsenyuk’s proffered concessions on April 11 suggest that “Munich II”-style concessions are already being crafted, probably under pressure from the U.S. and the EU.

The Costs of Further Delay in Imposing Really Significant Sanctions

Further delay by the West in taking military steps and adopting really meaningful “third-stage” sanctions (such as a ban on financial transactions with Russia and/or a freezing of Russian assets in the West) will enable Russia to proceed with its destabilization of the eastern Ukraine and what may be its plan to have local “referendums” held on May 9, Russia’s Victory Day (celebrating the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany in World War II). Demands for such referendums are now being heard from pro-Russian protesters.

The Russians are following Adolf Hitler’s playbook for the Anschluss with Austria and the annexation of the Sudetenland to the letter. The first took place on March 12, 1938. The second took place six months later, with the approval of France and Great Britain at Munich on September 30, 1938.

See
“Is Putin like Hitler?” The Trenchant Observer, April 4, 2014.

“Putin’s seizure of the Crimea and Hitler’s seizure of the Sudetenland: The comparison is accurate,” April 1, 2014.

Because of the complexity and time-consuming nature of EU and NATO decision processes (unanimity is required, in both cases), only the U.S. is in a position to lead and to act quickly.

The additional sanctions announced by Obama on April 11, 2014 (adding seven individuals and a major Crimean gas company seized by the Russians to those on the list of targeted sanctions) represent small steps in the right direction. But no one should imagine for an instant that they are sufficiently serious to affect Russia’s decisions, including any which may have already been made to invade the Ukraine for a second time.

The United States and the West are speaking the language of peace and reason. Russia is speaking the language of war and military action on the ground.

If only Obama and his “groupthink” coterie could come to their senses, grasp these realities, and react with forceful actions that are executed, not threatened, much might still be salvaged from the current debacle. After the invasion and annexation of the Crimea one would think they might have learned a thing or two.

But the roots of pacifism grow deep, and it is not easy for those who are committed to appeasement to discern–much less react to–realities which are dramatically changing, hour by hour, on the ground.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Observateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

France and Germany should cede leadership on diplomacy with Russia to European Council (EU), NATO

Friday, February 6th, 2015

When you stop and think about it, France and Germany have no business now representing Europe and NATO in talks with Putin and Russia over Ukraine. Who appointed them in the first place?

The original deal they brokered with then Ukrainian president Yanukovitch in February, 2014 briefly appeared to offer a negotiated solution to the crisis in the Ukraine resulting from massive demonstrations on the Maidan.  But the Maidan never accepted the deal, military and security officials defected from Yanukovitch, and the latter fled first to the eastern Ukraine and then to Russia as his government collapsed. Contrary to Russian propaganda, there was no “coup”.

Since that initial apparent success, the four-party negotiations including Angela Merkel, Francois Hollande, Petro Poroshenko, and Vladimir Putin, or their foreign ministers, have produced only illusory results.

Look at the map of the Ukraine showing areas occupied by Russian troops and their puppet “separatists” to grasp the point.

France is an unlikely mediator for Europe and the EU. Hollande should be known as Mr. Mistral, as he repeatedly betrayed the interests of NATO and its members as he sought to push through the delivery to Russia of “The Vladilovstok”, the first of two Mistral-class attack warships with highly advanced theater command capabilities.

He broke the isolation of Putin by inviting him to dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris in June (relegating Barack Obama to dinner at a Parisian restaurant the same evening), after inviting him to the D-Day celebrations in Normandy, and also made a free-lance surprise trip to meet with Putin at the airport in Moscow in December, breaking his renewed isolation in bilateral relations after August.

Hollande would sell out Europe in favor of French interests, including delivery of the Mistral warships, at the drop of a hat.

Germany has not been so craven, but it is clear that Angela Merkel is fairly clueless on defense strategy and policy, while she is shackled by her grand coalition alliance with the SPD including her foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

The SPD is no longer the party of Willy Brandt, former mayor of Berlin and Chancellor who was a stalwart in standing up firmly against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

Rather, its leaders have become pacifists and appeasers of Russia. After Russia “annexed” the conquered territory of the Crimea in March, 2014, former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder traveled to St. Petersburg to celebrate his 70th birthday with Vladimir Putin, his Russian business partner in the Nordstream gasline joint venture. After his government authorized the deal, Schroeder literally stumbled over himself to join Nordstream as he was leaving office. Former SPD Chancellor Helmut Scmidt, now in his 90’s, has also come out in support of appeasement with Russia, even following the “annexation” of the Crimea.

Steinmeier is a former chief-of-staff of Schroeder.

At every turn, no matter what Putin has done, no matter what agreements Putin has flouted, no matter how many tanks and armored columns and Russian troops and irregulars and intelligence and special forces operatives Putin has sent into the eastern Ukraine, no matter how tough Angela Merkel has been in her conversations and meetings with Putin, Steinmeier has always offered Putin yet another opportunity at dialogue, and yet another opportunity to meet.

The fact that Merkel and Hollande are now in Moscow, after refusing to meet with Putin in Astana, Kazakhstan last month due to a lack of prospects for any agreement, demonstrates the lengths to which France and Germany will go to try to appease Putin.

Their trip to Moscow today recalls Edouard Daladier’s and Neville Chamberlain’s trips to Munich in September, 1938, resulting in the infamous Munich Pact which blessed Adolf Hitler’s seizure of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.

The EU deserves better representation. It is not even clear how Germany and France came to assume the role of speaking for Europe in the first place.

That role should now be directly assumed by Donald Tusk and the EU’s European Council and by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. It should definitely not be delegated to the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who lacks experience and has a history of being overly friendly to Russia, even after the invasion of the Crimea.

Europe and NATO need new interlocutors with Putin. France and Germany are not suited to the task for the reasons set forth above, and in view of the complete failure of their diplomatic efforts with Putin to date.

The Trenchant Observer

European and American leaders repeat grave mistakes in efforts to appease Putin on Ukraine

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Updated February 5, 2015 (7:45 p.m. ET)

See

(1) Julia Smirniva (Moskau), “Die verzweifelte Suche nach Frieden für die Ukraine Die deutsche Kanzlerin, Frankreichs Staatschef und der US-Außenminister flogen zu Gesprächen nach Kiew. Die ukrainische Regierung erwartet Hilfe in der Krise – es steht viel auf dem Spiel,” Die Zeit, 5. Februar 2015.

(2) ANTON TROIANOVSKI (Berlin), PHILIP SHISHKIN (Kiev), and GREGORY L. WHITE (Moscow), “Western Leaders Scramble to Calm Conflict in Ukraine
Moscow Warns Any Military Aid Will Be Seen as Threat to Russian Security,” Wall Street Journal, February 5, 2015 (Updated 12:27 p.m. ET).

UPDATE

Once you’ve checked your principles at the door, principles like the U.N. Charter’s prohibition of the threat or use of force across international frontiers, or the jus cogens principle of international law that territorial gains achieved by military conquest can never be recognized, then everything is possible.

With no moorings, everything seems possible and anything may seem to make sense.

Even a desperate trip by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande, recalling the desperate trips to Munich by Edouard Daladier of France and Neville Chamberlain of Britain in September, 1938, may for a moment seem to make sense.

The Chamberlain and Daladier trips led to the the signing of the Munich Pact on the evening of September 29 / 30, 1938. In that agreement the West, breaking existing treaty commitments to Czechoslovakia, betrayed the Czech government of Edward Benes by ratifying Adolf Hitler’s seizure of the German-speaking Sudetenland, which was part of Czechoslovakia.

Now Merkel and Hollande will go down in history as the appeasers who would give sovereign powers over Ukrainian territory to Vladimir Putin, at the barrel of a gun. Just like in 1938.

Karl Marx was right when he said history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy and the second time as farce.

Putin does not keep his agreements. This is not a secret. It means that even if “successful” the farcical diplomacy of appeasement now underway by Merkel and Hollande, with Barack Obama actively participating from the sidelines, can gain only a few weeks of peace.

In the words of Neville Chamberlin after the signing of the Munich Pact, an agreement in Moscow might bring “peace in our time”.

But, as in Europe in the 1930’s, such “peace in our time” would not be likely to last for any significant period of time. The last agreement the Russians made in Berlin on January 21, 2015, to withdraw armor from an agreed demarcation line in the eastern Ukraine, didn’t last a day.

END OF UPDATE

Original article

The American and European tragedy of pacifist leaders seeking to appease Putin, desperately begging him to be nice, continues unabated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will fly off to Moscow on Friday to make personal appeals for mercy to Putin, the Dictator and Aggressor who has invaded the Crimea and purported to annex it, and who is now intensifying his invasion of the eastern Ukraine.

To “pressure” Putin to stop his broadening war against the Ukraine, the European foreign ministers have agreed “in principle” to add 19 individuals and nine entities to the sanctions list, These reportedly include five Russian officials and one Russian entity.

To date, there are 132 individuals and 28 entities on the sanctions list.

Putin has not been impressed, nor will he be by the fool’s errand Merkel and Hollande will undertake in traveling to Moscow on Friday.

Neither the EU nor the U.S. has been willing to supply “lethal” weapons to Kiev, for fear of antagonizing the aggressor.

Putin’s contempt for them is demonstrated by his charge that any such supply of weapons would be a major escalation of the conflict.

Moreover, the idea of negotiating anything with Putin, given the fact that his word is worthless, is absurd.

The April 17, 2014 Geneva agreement, the Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014, the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014, the January 21, 2015 Berlin agreement between Russia and the Ukraine to withdraw heavy armor from a demarcation line agreed in the Minsk Memorandum, the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, and the United Nations Charter (paragraph 2 paragraph 4 probiting the use of force) are all solemn agreements Putin has brazenly violated, and continues to violate.

The current pacifists and appeasers who lead the U.S. and Europe are hopelessly incompetent in dealing with Russian military aggression. They have tried appeasement and it has failed. But they don’t seem to get the point.

They continue to talk to the terrorists, the Russians, those responsible for over 5,400 killed in the Donbas since April, with words, with telephone calls and meetings and even desperate, ill-advised trips to see the Aggressor in his lair in Moscow.

They have nothing but words to offer. They are unwilling to even provide Kiev with arms in fulfillment of the idea of collective security and pursuant to their legal right of “collective self-defense” under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

They are unwilling to act to defend the postwar political and legal order, or even the European Union and NATO.

They are fools, on fools’ errands.

America and the West must await new leaders who are willing to abandon the road of appeasement, and who are prepared to act energetically to contain Putin and Russia in the New Cold War, which is already fully in progress.

The West awaits, and requires, new leadership.

For starters, the negotiations with Putin and Russia should be taken away from France and Germany–who appointed them?–and put under the joint leadership of the Council of Europe under Donald Trusk and NATO.

The Trenchant Observer

Latest news on fighting in the eastern Ukraine

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Developing

See Pilar Binet, “La escalada bélica se agrava en Ucrania y se ceba con los civiles; Fracasa la nueva ronda negociadora con Rusia y los grupos separatistas,” 30 De enero 2015 (20:57 CET).

The Trenchant Observer

Leftist victory in Greece threatens continuation of EU sanctions against Russia

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Developing

See

(1) Julia Smirnova und Boris Kalnóky, “Mit Tspiras hat Russland einen neuen Verbündeten; Die neue griechische Regierung verfügt über bemerkenswert enge Kontakte nach Moskau; Premier Tsipras fordert schon lange ein Ende der Sanktionen, Außenminister Kotzias ist ein Fan von Putins Guru,” Die Welt, 28. Januar 2015.

(2) Daniel Friedrich Sturm, “POLITIK LAUT GABRIEL: Bundesregierung ist gegen neue Russland-Sanktionen Die EU-Außenminister dürften bei ihrem Treffen am Donnerstag vor allem intern nach einem Konsens suchen. Die vorgeschlagene Verlängerung der Sanktionen ist laut Vizekanzler Gabriel längst nicht sicher,” Die Welt, 28. Januar 2015.

(Vizekanzler Sigmar Gabriel (SPD) sieht wenig Spielraum für neue Sanktionen gegen Russlan.)

It appears that, as a result of the election of a leftist government in Greece on Sunday, January 25, Vladimir Putin may now have secured a blocking veto within the 28 members of the EU.

EU countries at present can only adopt economic sanctions by unanimous consent.

Consequently, a Greek veto could block renewal of the sanctions against Russia, which come up for re-authorization between March and September, 2015. This would occur even as Putin continues his illegal occupation of the Crimea and his ongoing military invasion and intervention in the eastern Ukraine, with Russian troops, armor and material.

This latest development demonstrates that Merkel’s and the EU’s austerity demands on Greece were too harsh, producing unexpected and sharply counter-productive consequences.

Even if the sanctions are eventually renewed, the battle within the EU is likely to be limited to re-authorizing existing sanctions, rather than adopting new and harsher sectoral sanctions in response to Puutin’s latest military moves in the Donbas, particularly against Mariupol.

Our current political leaders don’t seem to understand a fundamental truth: Everything is connected. We need leaders of great strategic vision, but have none.

The new Tspiras government, as a party, has been a strong critic of EU santions against Russia. Its top keaders are reported to have close ties to Moscow.

The EU voting requirement urgently calls out for a constitutional change, if Europe is ever to become an effective actor in the world. Yet even if there were support for changing the voting requirements–highly dubious at present– it could take years to adopt and implement any such changes.

Mr. Putin turns out to be a much better chess player than the pacifists and appeasers who lead the West. Many of them, including Barack Obama, don’t seem to have looked at the chessboard in over a month.

Moreover, it seems never to have occurred to them that they need to develop a strategy to take a queen, and even a king.

The Trenchant Observer