Archive for the ‘France’ Category

REPRISE: Responding to military seizure and annexation of the Crimea: Stronger PERMANENT SANCTIONS against Russia urgently needed

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

The question of the hour: Should a little Russian aggression and annexation of the Crimea keep the West from getting back to “business as usual” with Russia?

The following article was originally published on March 26, 2014.

REPRISE: Responding to military seizure and annexation of the Crimea: Stronger PERMANENT SANCTIONS against Russia urgently needed,” The Trenchant Observer, March 26, 2014.

Commentary

Russia is not likely to disgorge the Crimea, annexed following Russian aggression and military seizure during the last month, any time soon.

So, should the West simply accept this fait accompli, be happy that Putin has not invaded the eastern Ukraine, and just get back to business as usual with Russia over the course of the next year or two?

Powerful commercial interests in European and also other Western countries would seem to support such a course of action, which can be rationalzed by stressing that the Crimea belonged to Russia for hundreds of years, and whatever the defects of the recent referendum in the Crimea, a majority of Crimeans most probably supported joining Russia. Moreover, some would argue, the West has not taken Russian sensitivities into account as it pushed the boundaries of the EU and NATO right up to the borders of Russia itself.

Like Kosovo, they might argue, the Crimea was a special case in which any violation of international law was not that serious, and should be put behind us. It was not as serious as the U.S. invasion of Iraq under false pretenses, for example.

Moreover, the imposition of further economic sanctions on Russia which would have a serious impact on trade, investment, and financial transactions would hurt the West as much or even more than they would hurt Russia.

Germany and Europe need Russian gas to get through the coming winter without extraordinary hardships being imposed on innocent, ordinary people. The fact that the U.S. is dependent on the use of Russian territory and airspace to complete its withdrawal of forces and equipment from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 represents a further, compelling consideration.

Moreover, Russian cooperative participation is needed in the “five plus one” talks with Iran over its nuclear program and non-proliferation concerns felt strongly in the U.S., Israel and Europe.

Finally, Russian cooperation in finding any resolution of the civil war in Syria will be essential, U.S. and other officials have repeatedly stated.

In view of these circumstances, and Russia’s understandable desire to secure the naval bases where much of its navy is based, others would argue, the West can ill afford to continue or strengthen economic sanctions against Russia.

The better course, according to the views of many, would be to simply get relations between the West and Russia working smoothly again.

What, if anything, could be wrong with this analysis?

Shouldn’t the West just get over Russia’s annexation of the Ukraine, and get back to business as usual?

Of course, there is the small question of international law and the U.N. Charter’s prohibition of the threat or use of force against another country’s territorial integrity or political independence, embodied in Article 2(4) of the Charter.

But what difference does that make, in the 21st century?

That is the question, the fundamental question, of the hour.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Obervateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

American big business votes for appeasement with Russia; Interview with Prime Minister Taavi Roivas of Estonia

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Outrageous Lobbying for Appeasement of Russia by American Big Business

The National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce plan to run an ad in leading newspapers on Thursday, lobbying against the imposition of tougher sanctions against Russia by the U.S. Technically, they may argue that the sanctions should not be tougher than those which may be adopted by the European Union.  But as the EU can act only by consensus of its 28 members, and never swiftly, their argument in essence is one against immediate, strong, sectorial sanctions and in favor of the pacifism and appeasement which have so far characterized the response of the West to Russian aggression in the Ukraine.

In doing so, they are acting to undermine the foreign policy of the United States, and President Obama’s threat of a month ago to impose third-stage or sectorial sanctions on Russia if Vladimir Putin did not cease his subversion and support for so-called “separatists” in the eastern Ukraine (which Putin brought into being, incidentally, after invading and annexing the Crimea). This, despite his verbal declarations designed to forestall the imposition of stronger sanctions, Putin has utterly failed to do.

In effect, big business, not content with its enormous influence over domestic legislation and the domestic implementation of laws, now wants to dictate to the president what is or is not in the national interest in the foreign policy arena.  In a word, if a policy serves the national security interests of the United States but hurts the business interests of members of the two groups placing the ads, deference should be given to the interests of big business.

Today, Peter Baker of the New York Times reported on the options under consideration by the Obama administration for adoption in response to Putin’s failure to meet the conditions laid down by the EU and the U.S. nearly a month ago. Regarding the incredibly brazen lobbying by the NAM and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, he wrote:

The drive for more sanctions comes as American businesses are growing more vocal in protesting the possibility that the United States may act on its own. While lobbying the White House and Congress quietly until now, leading business groups plan to start a wide advertising campaign voicing their concerns.

“With escalating global tensions, some U.S. policy makers are considering a course of sanctions that history shows hurts American interests,” reads an advertisement to be placed in major newspapers on Thursday. “We are concerned about actions that would harm American manufacturers and cost American jobs.”

The ad, signed by Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, and Thomas J. Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will be placed in The Financial Times, The Hill, The New York Times, Politico, Roll Call, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post. A copy was provided on Tuesday by someone not directly affiliated with either sponsoring organization.

Linda Dempsey, the vice president for international economic affairs at the manufacturers association, would not discuss the ad campaign but said American businesses would be unduly harmed if Washington proceeded with sanctions that were not matched by Europe.

“Unilateral sanctions by the United States end up with other countries and their industries filling the void,” she said. “The harm and the real impact of those unilateral sanctions is on U.S. industries and U.S. workers. It’s not that we’re out of the market for a year or two. We could get out of the market for decades.”

See Peter Baker, “Doubting Putin, Obama Prepares to Add Pressure,” New York Times, June 24, 2014.

In Europe, big business is exercising similar pressures on the governments of François Hollande and Àngela Merkel, and others.

The pressure from two of the most important associations of large U.S. businesses is analogous to American big business placing ads in the major newspapers to leave or not leave Afghanistan, or to support or not support U.S. allies in Asia which are confronted with aggressive Chinese actions in disputed territorial waters in the East and South China Seas.

A more direct analogy would be that if China were to seize by force one or more islands currently administered by Japan, the lobbying organizations would place ads in the leading national papers urging the U.S. not to respond forcefully to the Chinese actions unless the EU were acting in lockstep with United States, because of the detrimental impact such unilateral action would have on U.S.-Chinese business interests, and the unfair advantage that would be given to European companies operating in China if the EU did not adopt the same or similar measures.

What this means, in practice, is that U.S. actions would be dictated by the weakest link in the 28-nation chain of EU member states.

How the United States could ever lead the Atlantic Alliance and other nations if it could never act on its own, independently of the actions of the EU, is a question that both defies explanation and points to the most urgent need of U.S. foreign policy at the present moment in relation to Russia and the Ukraine–to adopt strong, serious sanctions against Russia, unilaterally if necessary, and to lead the Atlantic Alliance in responding to Russian aggression.

These big business groups and their members should be forcefully reminded that they have a duty not to actively undermine the national security interests of the United States, so long as they benefit from the protection of its laws and diplomatic representations. They should not be permitted to do so without negative consequences.

Their current lobbying campaign is so disloyal and unpatriotic that every American should take careful note of the companies that are supporting actions in favor of appeasement, and modify their consumer and business decisions accordingly.

The fact of the matter is that, following the Russian invasion and annexation of the Crimea and in view of its continuing invasion and subversion of the eastern Ukraine, the U.S., Europe and the world face the most serious crisis of international law and institutions since 1945.

For U.S. big business to come in and presume to tell the president how the U.S. should act under these circumstances is simply unforgivable.  It should produce legislative consequences which require U.S. big business to shoulder a larger portion of the economic burden of defense and other expenses required to pay for the national security of the United States.

Interview with Prime Minister Taavi Roivas of Estonia

To get a clear-eyed view of the seriousness of the present situation with Russia as a result of its aggression against the Ukraine, read closely (using Google translator if necessary) today’s interview by Nicola Abé of Der Spiegel with Taavi Roivas, the Prime Minister of Estonia.

See Nicola Abé (Interview), “Estlands Premier Roivas: “Europa muss den Schlummermodus abschalten,” Der Spiegel, 25. Juni 2014 (19:10 Uhr)

Der estnische Ministerpräsident Taavi R  ivas fordert mehr Nato-Truppen im Baltikum. “Wir brauchen eine klare Abschreckungswirkung.”

Roivas stated forcefully that Europe must awake from its current state of slumber, and recognize the threat from Putin and Russia. Among other things, NATO should move its troops to the front-line states like the Baltic countries, where their presence might actually have a deterrent effect against any potential military action. It makes no sense to have them stationed in the middle of Europe in countries which were once front-line states, but are no more, he said.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Observateur Incisif
L’Observateur Incisif

Distracted by Iraq and the World Cup: Pacifism and Appeasement continue to dictate West’s “non-response” to blatant Russian aggression in the eastern Ukraine (revised and updated June 18, 2014)

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

Last Revised and Updated June 18, 2014

Distracted by Iraq and the World Cup, the leaders of the West seem to have forgotten about the Ukraine in general, and their earnest threat of “third-stage”, sectoral sanctions against Russia, in particular.

“Nothing New in the West” remains the order of the day as the U.S., and EU and NATO member countries remain gripped by pacifism and appeasement–and pure cowardice–in failing to respond in a serious manner to the ongoing Russian invasion of the eastern Ukraine.

Russia continues its policy of blatant aggression against the territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence of the Ukraine. The West, as was the case in Syria, fights back with words and not deeds, with empty threats that have no credibility because they are never carried out. It is always “too little, too late”, as if a man who is knifed in the gut responds to his aggressor with a slap to the cheek.

Meanwhile, the international political and legal order is falling apart, from Europe to the Middle East.

The state of Iraq is crumbling, after tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers threw down their arms and fled from battle, with Sunni regions falling to the advancing forces of ISIS, an al-Qaeda-type organization. Iraqi Kurdish Peshmurga forces have moved into Kirkuk to fill the vacuum, further threatening the dismemberment of the country into Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish regions.

With the West’s attention distracted by both the World Cup tournament in Brazil (Angela Merkel was in Brazil for Germany’s victory on Monday) and the rapid advance of the ISIS forces in Iraq, Putin and Russia continue to play their “double game” of saying one thing and doing another. In recent days, a column of Russian armor, including three tanks, has crossed the Russian border into the Ukraine. So-called “separatists” have used a surface-to-air MANPAD missile to bring down a Ukrainian military transport, causing the deaths of 49 Ukrainian solders.

A hot war is going on in the eastern Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin has demonstated once again his utterly perfidious character. He moves like a leopard around the Ukraine, waiting for the moment when the attention and unity of the West falters in order to attack and pounce upon his prey.

So long as Putin remains in power, the West will never be able to trust Russia again.

The United States has a clueless president, whose foreign policy currently consists almost entirely of words. His first response to any crisis is to issue a well-crafted statement. “All options are on the table,” he reflexively states, and he will consider the options that are brought to him by his national security team.

The options that are always all on the table, always seem to suffer a curious fate. After the doors are closed, a space in the floor opens up, the top of the table opens downward, and those options disappear into the void below, never to be seen again.

Without analyzing the situation, Obama announces that no American boots will be deployed on the ground in Iraq. Reluctantly, he sees himself pushed by his national security advisers to do something. The present circumstances are urgent, in view of the collapse of the Iraqi army and the advance of ISIS toward Baghdad, after taking Mosul.

Obama dithers. When he finally gets around to taking some action, it is usually too little and too late to be effective.

After Russia invaded the Crimea, the U.S. sent “non-lethal” military
aid to the Ukraine consisting of MRE rations (meals ready to eat). The first-round of targeted economic sanctions imposed on a small number of individual Russians was a bad joke.

All of the mistakes, shortcomings and failures of Obama’s foreign policy are now manifesting their consequences, like chickens coming home to roost.

Syria, Iraq and the Middle East are collapsing in front of our eyes. Russia is invading the eastern Ukraine, after invading and annexing the Crimea. Everywhere the United States is failing to lead, by not acting independently when this is urgently required–even with military force, if necessary–and by not effectively leading the Atlantic Alliance, including both NATO and the EU.

Obama’s foreign policy lies before us in a shambles, like a heap of shards of broken glass. His West Point speech of two weeks ago has already been overtaken by events.

Democrats with knowlege of foreign and defense policy are afraid to speak out publicly against the president, whether because they don’t want to hurt Democratic election prospects, hope for future posts or consulting work in government, don’t want to prejudice their positions within the organizations in which they work, or are simply apprehensive about taking strong stands against the government in the new surveillance state.

Some leading members of the foreign-policy elite seem themselves to be as clueless as Barack Obama. The president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard N. Haass, for example, suggested on the Charlie Rose program last night (June 13) that, to counter the growth and advances of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. should consider joining with Bashar al-Assad and Russia to attack the ISIS forces. Michael R. Gordon, the distinguished military affairs correspondent of the New York Times, had the presence of mind to point out that joining with a mass murderer like al-Assad would be inconsistent with American values, and not likely to engender support.

Without any discernible American strategy, and few key officials with any sense of history, foreign events appear to pop up out of nowhere and to take the Obama administration utterly by surprise.

Absent a policy anchored in enduring American and Western values, such as dedication to defending human rights and democracy and respect for international law, any policy or action seems possible, in a present which seems to have expanded almost infinitely, obliterating the past while encompassing all possibilities for present and future action.

What can be done?

1. Stage-three, sectoral sanctions should be immediately imposed by the United States against Russia, while the U.S. should lead in exercising real, intense pressure on EU countries to join in adopting similar sanctions.

This would necessarily include cancellation of France’s sale of two Mistral-class warships to be delivered to Russia in the fall. Training of Russian sailors, scheduled to begin shortly, should be canceled sine diem, and not reconsidered until after Russia disgorges the Crimea and returns it to the Ukraine.

2. NATO should announce the immediate deployment of additional ground troops to Poland, Romania and the Baltics, and move foward urgently, and loudly, in developing plans for the permanent stationing of large numbers of NATO troops in these countries.

3. Western leaders should immediately stop all telephone calls and meetings at the deputy foreign minister level or above with Russian leaders and officials. Telephone diplomacy has failed. It only enables Putin to discern differences between Western countries and devise actions that divide them, e.g., in order to defuse the threat of sectoral sanctions.

4. The U.S. and its allies should undertake military and other action in Iraq, immediately, in order both to halt the advance of ISIS forces toward Baghdad and to forestall Iranian military intervention in Iraq in the coming days.

5. While these steps are being taken, the U.S. should develop a real strategy, using all forms of American power, to both defeat ISIS and to secure a non-sectarian government in Iraq, as coalitions are formed to choose the next prime minister following the recent elections.

6. The U.S, should exercise its influence in Afghanistan as necessary to ensure that the vote count following the presidential run-off election today (June 14) is transparent, and not deprived of legitimacy by uncorrected corruption.

Indications of widespread fraud (denounced by Abdullah Abdullah) and Hamid Karzai’s control of the electoral commission raise the possibility that this last chance at gaining legitimacy may be lost. If it is, it should surprise no one if, within a few years, the Afghan army collapses just like the Iraqi army which ran from battle in Sunni areas of Iraq in recent days.

Will the president stop dithering and analyzing, and take the needed actions outlined above?

To do so would, in Secretary of State Madelaine Allbright’s memorable phrase, take some “cojones”.

That is precisely the element of U.S. foreign policy that has been missing. One can only hope that it can be found, and deployed.

The Trenchant Observer

As official Russian troops withdraw from border, Putin continues stealth invasion and occupation of Donetsk and Luhansk region by irregular forces

Friday, June 6th, 2014

News and Opinion

See

(1) Anton Troianovski (Berlin) and Carol E. Lee (in Bénouville, France), “Mistrust Persists in Ukraine Meetings,” Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2014(updated 8:02 p.m. ET).

(2) Lukas I. Alpert, “Ukraine’s Tenuous Grip on Russian Border Slips Further; Kiev Abandons Eight Border Posts After Sustained Attacks,” Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2014 (7:16 a.m. ET).

(3) Arthur Bright, “Despite Russian drawdown from border, fighting continues in eastern Ukraine (+video),” Cristian Science Monitor, May 30, 2014.

“Russian fighters are among the separatist forces battling Ukraine’s poorly equipped military for control of eastern provinces. A pullback of Moscow’s troops could defuse tensions with the West.”

(4) Griff Witte and Michael Birnbaum (Donetsk), “Russian troop withdrawal brings no relief in eastern Ukraine,” Washington Post, May 30, 2014.

Analysis

Vladimir Putin is a former KGB operative who, as Russia’s President, has embraced a new form of “stealth warfare”. In the Crimea, this invasion was launched by special operations forces bearing no official insignia (often referred to in the press as “little green men”). With impressive military precision, they seized key government buildings and police and Ukrainian army installations, handing them over to pro-Russian “separatists” whom they directed and controlled. As these events unfolded, President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov loudly proclaimed that Russia had no intention of violating the territorial integrity of the Ukraine in the Crimea or anywhere else. Within a month, Russia had annexed the Crimea.

Subsequently, the same pattern was repeated in the eastern Ukraine, with variations which have evolved in accordance with changing circumstances. At Geveva, on April 17, Russia agreed in the statement produced by talks between the U.S., the EU, Russia, and the Ukraine, that the “separatists” who had seized government buildings with Kalishnakovs and other heavy weapons would lay down their arms and withdraw from the buildings they held. Russia made no effort to ensure that this would happen.

As the West imposed targeted sanctions against individuals and a few companies in Russia and the Ukraine, significantly also developed a realistic threat of imposing so-called “third stage” or sectoral sanctions against Russia if it invaded the eastern Ukraine or interfered with the May 25 presidential elections in the Ukraine, Putin told Angela Merkel that he was withdrawing troops from the border region, where some 40,000 to 50,000 troops were massed in combat-ready status for an invasion. Weeeks passed without this withdrawal occurring. In recent days, however, these Russian troops have finally been withdrawing.

But meanwhile, the KGB operative who is the current presient of Russia continued the invasion of the Ukraine by surrepticious means. Recent reports detail the crossing into Ukraine of truckloads and truckloads of heavily armed irregular forces. Within the last several days, highly organized military forces have taken control of the government administration building in Donetsk from the motley group of pro-Russian activists who were holding it.

The top leaders of the “separatists” are Russian citizens with no local ties, who are reliably reported to be officials of Russian military and intelligence agencies. Chechens and fighters from other parts of Russia have been sent into the eastern Ukraine to bolster the military assault on the territorial integrity, sovereignty, and political independence of the Ukraine, now in the “Donbass” region.

It is clear that Putin”s and Russia”s invasion of the eastern Ukraine continues in an extremely vigorous manner, with determination not to allow Kiev’s Anti-Terrorist Operation aimed at restoring public order in the East to succeed.

A war is going on in the eastern Ukraine between the Russian special operations and irregular forces whuch have invaded the country and local separatists they have enlisted in their support, and the national government of the Ukraine based in Kiev.

After imposing limited targeted sanctions on a number of Russian individuals, the EU and the U.S. have now threatened Putin and Russia with sectoral sanctions if Russia does not ceadse its support for the “separatists” who are fighting Ukrainian forces attempting to restore public order, and stop the influx from Russia of irregular forces and weapons crossing the border.

At the same time, France has stated that it will proceed with the delivery to Ruusian of two Mistral-class warships, which will be based in Sevastopol in the Crimea, which under international law remains Ukrainian territory under Russian occupation.

The isolation of President Putin was broken by Francois Hollande’s invitation to Putin to attend the D-Day ceremonies in Normand on June 5-6. There was a certain logic to this invitation, as the West and the Soviet Union were allies in the war to defeat Nazi Germany.

Whether the subsequent invitation to Putin to visit Paris and David Cameron’s and Angela Merkel’s hastily scheduled private meetings with Putin, over President Barack Obama’s objections, reflected a sincere effort at persuasion, or signalled a collapse of allied unity, was far from clear, particularly in light of the French decision to deliver the warships to Russia.

One might have thought that if the West wanted to deliver a single message and threat to Vladimir Putin regarding the Ukraine, they could have found a better way to do it than in three separate private meetings. Obama refused such a meeting, although he had a 15-minute chat with Putin on the sidelines of a larger luncheon at the D-Day ceremonies on Friday.

The Trenchant Observer

The sheer mind-numbing incompetence of Obama’s White House foreign policy team; Ukraine—continuing pacifism and appeasement in the West

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014

Developing

You can’t make this stuff up.

The sheer, mind-numbing incompetence ofthe White House foreign policy team surpasses the wildest leaps of the imagination. For example,

1. The White House distributes the name of the current CIA station chief in Kabul to the press pool accompanying the President on a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

“Surprise! We’ve outed the CIA station chief!” To date, no head has rolled, though there has been an attempt to blame it on the military.

2. President Obama agrees to meet with French President Francois Hollande before the latter meets with Vladimir Putin in Paris, both on Thursday night. The dinner with Obama is at a restaurant, whereas Putin is eating at the Elysee Palace.

This is Obama’s version of managing alliance relationships. Further, Angela Merkel is meeting with Putin in Frankfurt on Friday.

Meanwhile, Putin’s agents are waging war in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of the Ukraine, while Russian “volunteers” are pouring into the Ukraine, whose border forces have come under intense and coordinated attack. Coordinated by whom? Who do you think? The Albanians?

If you’ve ever wondered about that smug “I just ate the goldfish and they’re inviting me for dessert” smile on former KGB agent Vladimir Putin’s face, reread the preceding paragraphs.

Incompetence at the highest levels, by “the gang who couldn’t shoot straight”, and their leader.

Obama seems to have “attention deficit disorder”. He doesn’t seem to be able to track the moving ball with his eyes. To keep his eye on the ball. Nor does he seem to understand how his actions will be interpreted.

He travels to Eastern Europe to reassure NATO’s eastern allies, with more words, that America stands behind them, instead of acting to halt and reverse Putin’s aggression in the Ukraine by adopting serious economic sanctions, and pressuring the Europeans to do the same. Those actions, not words, would reassure our allies in Eastern Europe–and Japan and other countries neighboring China.

Hollande, whose sense of loyalty was recently displayed when he was caught by the press sneaking out of the Elysee Palace on a motorcycle to meet his girlfriend in a nearby house, leading to the departure of his official girlfriend from the Elysee Palace, has apparently been flipped by the National Front’s strong showing in the May 25 elections for the European Parliament.

What Angela Merkel’s story is can only be guessed, but the steadfastness of Germany is not beyond doubt, as suggested by former SPD Chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder’s celebration of his 70th birthday with his good friend Vladimir Putin in St. Petersberg last month.

The pacifists and the appeasers in the White House and in Europe look like they have carried the day, and can’t wait to get back to “business as usual” with Russia and Putin, at the earlest opportunity.

The existing structure of international order is facing its toughest test since 1945.

So, now that it is clear that Europe is not willing to undergo any pain to uphold that international order, e.g., through the adoption of third-stage, sectoral sanctions, leaders want to meet with Putin.

“Let’s be reasonable. Let’s mediate between Putin and Ukraine’s newly-elected president, Petro Poroshenko.”

Between Russia and the country it is at this very moment raping.

What is to be mediated?

What it will take to get the rapist to desist from a rape in progress? Which of the rapist’s demands must be met, including immunity from criminal prosecution or even civil penalties? How the rapist can rebuild a relationship of trust with other members of the community, without expressing any regret?

In the international sphere, invasion and annexation of a portion of another country is a far more serious transgression than is rape in the domestic legal system, however heinous the latter crime may be.

Does anyone remember “the rape of Nanjing” in 1937-38, by the Japanese?

Without the U.N. Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of force, and serious efforts to uphold its effectiveness in cases of violation, how do the appeasers and pacifists in Washington and Europe imagine that the international order and international security will evolve?

If the present structure of international order within the framework of international law and the U.N. Charter is to be abandoned, what will take its place?

Shouldn’t the pacifists and appeasers in Washington and Europe be answering these questions? Are they?

The Trenchant Observer

To halt war in eastern Ukraine, “stage three” sanctions against Russian aggression needed now

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

developing

With the Russian invasion of the eastern Ukraine by special forces and mercenaries under their control, the U.S., THE EU and other civilized countries urgently need to impose “Stage Three” sanction sagainst Russia now, if the war in the East is to be halted.

French President Francois Hollande’s invitation of Vladimir Putin to visit Paris could be a nod to the right wing forces of Marine Le Pen, following their strong showing in the European Parliament elections on May 25. Hollande’s invitation, whatever his rationale, may be misguided. “Business as usual” with Putin should be unthinkable so long as his forces continue their violence and aggressionbin the eastern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian crisis is not over. To avoid civil war in the Eastern parts of the country, the West must push back hard, now, with Stage Three sectoral sanctions.

The Trenchant Observer

The language of actions: Russia, the Ukraine, and the response of the West

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

According to NATO, Russia has 35,000 to 40,000 combat-ready troops on its border with the Ukraine, which could be launched into action on as little as 12 hours.

See:

“UKRAINE: Russische Soldaten laut Nato sofort einsatzbereit; Die Nato spricht von ungewöhnlichen Vorgängen an der russisch-ukrainischen Grenze; Das westliche Militärbündnis zählt bis zu 40.000 Soldaten in dem Grenzgebiet,” Die Zeit, 10. April 2014 (17:28 Uhr).

“UKRAINE: Nato fürchtet russischen Einmarsch in die Ukraine; Russische Truppen sind an der ukrainischen Grenze stationiert; In wenigen Tagen könnten sie laut Nato alle Ziele im Nachbarland erreichen; Die Lage sei besorgniserregend,” Die Zeit, 2. April 2014 (16:04 Uhr).

These are Russian actions which deserve urgent attention.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has reassured Secretary of State John Kerry and others in the West that Russia will respect the territorial integrity of the Ukraine. These are Russian words, the same ones he used days before the Russian invasion of the Crimea.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reassured German Chancellor Merkel that Russian troops would be withdrawn from the border. These are Russian words. The troops have not been withdrawn.

We should not place any trust in these words, which come from known liars. We should not trust either Putin or Lavrov, or anything either of them says. They have been telling blatant lies as part of the Russian propaganda campaign, and have lied directly both to John Kerry and to Angela Merkel.

As the U.S., the EU, Russia, and the Ukraine prepare to meet on April 17, Western leaders and everyone else needs to understand that the only language of genuine communication between Russia and the West is now the language of actions. Consequently, they should go to the meeting with new actions that have already been taken, and which they can use to communicate with the Russians.

Russian Actions

So far, Russian actions include:

1) The invasion and annexation of the Crimea;

2) The infiltration of agents provacateurs into the eastern Ukraine to foment disturbances;

3) Demands that the Ukraine meet Russian demands for Ukrainian constitutional reforms granting greater regional autonomy to Russian-speaking regions, backed by the palpable threat of military intervention represented by invasion-ready military forces on the border;

4) An increase in gas prices to some $100.00 above market prices, on top of an increase that wipes out the concessionary price established in international agreements which extended Russia’s lease on naval facilities in Sevastopol, where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based.

In addition, Russia has demanded payment of an additional $11 billion dollars as repayment for concessionary price discounts since the lease agreements were signed in 2010, on the theory that since the Ukraine is part of Russia these lease agreements and concessionary gas price agreements are void; and

5) Russia has now demanded payment one month in advance for future gas deliveries to the Ukraine, and threatens to halt deliveries if payment is not made.

Western Actions

So far, Western Actions have included:

1) The imposition of targeted sanctions on less than three dozen individuals from Russia, the Crimea, and the Ukraine, and one Russian bank;

2) Development of lists of additional or “stage-three” sanctions which might be imposed (e.g., if Russia invades the eastern Ukraine), including trade, financial and other sanctions which could have a very serious impact on Russia (as well as Western countries);

2) The commitment of financial assistance to the Ukraine from the EU, the U.S. ($1 billion), and the International Monetary Fund ($15 billion, contingent on financial reforms in Ukraine);

3) Deployment of additional surveillance and fighter aircraft to NATO members Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia; and

4) The scheduling of additional NATO military maneuvers in eastern NATO member states; and

5) The dispatch of 100 OSCE observers to the Ukraine, which German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier is now pushing to increase to 500 observers, in compliance with an earlier OSCE decision to which Russia agreed.

Absence of Strategy and Sanctions to Compel Russia to Return the Crimea

The West has failed to adopt any sanctions or other measures designed to force Russia to undo its invasion and annexation of the Crimea.

Ominously, officials in both the U.S. and the EU, have hinted they might be prepared to continue doing business with Russia so long as it doesn’t commit further aggression by invading the eastern Ukraine, leaving it in possession of the Crimea with little more than verbal and diplomatic protests from the West.

The loudest “action” by the West with respect to undoing the invasion and annexation of the Crimea has been a failure to act. The “slap on the wrist” measures of the first- and second-round sanctions cannot be taken seriously as measures to produce a rollback.

The West has failed to adopt the extremely obvious economic sanction of prohibiting financial or other business transactions with any company operating in or doing business with the Crimea (corrected).

Actions Going Forward

Decision makers in the diplomats’ meeting with the Russians on April 17 need to communicate with Russia in the language of actions, not merely the verbal formulations of diplomacy, which insofar as Russia is concerned have neglible effect. All the diplomatic words and entreaties, and telephone calls to Putin and Lavrov, do not appear to have affected the language of actions which Russia is speaking.

Russia speaks in actions from a strong position, having invaded and annexed part of another country, in open violation of the most fundamental norms of the U.N. Charter, international law, and the postwar political, economic, and legal order.

Will the West’s responses, in the language of actions, be up to the task of halting and rolling back Russian aggression, and its ill-gotten gains?

If we connect the dots, and take note of the fact that Japan has in the last day reversed its policy of reducing its plutonium stocks–whether by coincidence or not–we can glimpse in an instant how critical the answer to the preceding question may be.

See Hiroko Tabuchi, “Japan Pushes Plan to Stockpile Plutonium, Despite Proliferation Risks,” New York Times, April 9, 2014.

Helene Cooper and Martin Fackle, “U.S. Response to Crimea Worries Japan’s Leaders,”
New York Times, April 5, 2014.

The Trenchant Observer

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Russia threatens further aggression against the Ukraine: The response of the West has been a bad joke; Putin must be stopped

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Updated and revised

Let me say quite frankly that it pains our hearts to see what is happening in Ukraine at the moment, see the people’s suffering and their uncertainty about how to get through today and what awaits them tomorrow. Our concerns are understandable because we are not simply close neighbours but, as I have said many times already, we are one people. Kiev is the mother of Russian cities. Ancient Rus is our common source and we cannot live without each other.

–Vladimir Putin, speech to Russian parliament (Duma), March 18, 2014.

The full text of the speech is found here.

The Russian Threat

Vladimir Putin made clear in his victory speech to the Russian parliament or Duma, on March 18, 2014, that he considers the Ukraine and Russia to be inseparable.

See:

Michael Thurmann, “Deckmantel der Geschichte; Wie Wladimir Putin die Vergangenheit missbraucht, um seine Politik der Gegenwart zu rechtfertigen,” Die Zeit, 4. April 2014 (18:35 Uhr).

Ulrich Speck, “Die Ukraine-Krise bedroht besonders Deutschland;
Deutschland muss empfindlich auf die Aggression Russlands reagieren. Es wird auf der Seite der Verlierer stehen, wenn wieder das Recht des Stärkeren gilt, Die Zeit, 7. April 2014.

The Response of the West

The response of the West to Russian seizure and annexation of the Crimea has been to adopt targeted personal sanctions against less than three dozen individuals in Russia, the Crimea, and the Ukraine (Yanukovych), and one Russian bank.

In response to these sanctions, Putin has ruled out any discussion of a rollback to the status quo ante before the Russian invasion and annexation of the Crimea, massed 40,000 troops on the eastern and northern borders of the Ukraine, and fomented separatist demonstrations and protests in major Ukrainian cities with a large Russian-speaking population, following the same script as was used in the Crimea.

Meanwhile, the West has continued to engage in diplomatic conversations with Russia, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in constant contact with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The U.S. has been practically begging Putin not to invade eastern Ukraine, while demonstrating a shocking receptiveness, as revealed in background conversations reported in the press, to acceptance of the Russian annexation of the Crimea as a fait accompli–with no further sanctions.

The same naiveté that was in evidence when the U.S. and other Western nations totally failed to anticipate Putin’s military intervention in the Crimea is, shockingly, still operating.

Minimal sanctions were adopted after the Russian military intervention in the Ukraine, with the hope that by not angering Putin and providing him with an “off-ramp”, he would not annex the Crimea.

Within days, Russia annexed the Crimea.

Now, the West with its second round of sanctions, which are tragically disproportionate to the aggression which they aim to undo, hopes that Putin will not send Russian troops into other parts of the Ukraine.

They are also making plans to make some minimal efforts on the military front to reassure front-line NATO member states, like Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, of their commitment to mutual defense under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty.

As for the Ukraine, they are planning to undertake some joint exercises with the Ukrainian armed forces, NOT NOW, but sometime in the summer.

The Western states congratulate themselves on the “strong” measures they have imposed in their first round and second round of sanctions against less than three dozen individuals and one bank.

They have done virtually nothing to inflict real pain on Russia as leverage to force a withdrawal of forces and an undoing of the annexation of the Crimea.

Is there anything in this mix that is likely to force Putin to restore the status quo ante in the Crimea?

Hardly.

Given the weak responses of the West, is there anything in this panorama that is likely to dissuade Putin from dispatching troops to the eastern Ukraine to “protect” Russian-speaking populations from persecution and abuses?

Hardly.

Russia itself, in a replay of the Crimean script, is doing everything it can to stir up disorder in Russian-speaking areas of the Ukraine.

The “Rational Actor Fallacy”

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

“The Rational Actor Fallacy” should also be borne in mind. The entire sanctions approach of the West is based on the assumption that Russia’s actions will be decided by the functional equivalent of a single rational mind, in an analytic paradigm in which costs to Russia–present and future–will be carefully weighed in reaching any decisions.

Putin, however, has unleashed forces which he may not be able to control. His propaganda machine has generated nationalistic passions in Russia, organizational processes within the government are operating, and personal commitments by bureaucratic leaders and decision makers have been secured, all of which may inevitably lead to military intervention in the Ukraine (whether by stealth or otherwise).

If this is true, the only thing which might reverse the current momentum of events could be sharp responses by the West that are sufficient in magnitude to force reconsideration in Russia, by all of the actors involved, of decisions already taken or well in progress–which will not otherwise be reversed.

In this context, the finely-tuned calculus of costs and benefits which Obama, the EU, and NATO believe will be decisive may simply be irrelevant. There is already persuasive evidence that Russia’s long-term interests, or even Putin’s, are not having an impact on Russian behavior.

The Real Choice for the West

The greatest question is whether it might prove easier to get Putin to withdraw his forces from the eastern Ukraine after a Russian invasion than it might be to dissuade him from such further aggression, by leaving no room for doubt in his mind about the consequences of such an action, including military consequences.

One measure which might focus the minds of the adventurers currently leading Russia would be to dispatch 20,000 Western troops to the Ukraine NOW–from NATO if possible, or from France and / or the United States if unanimity among the 28 member states of NATO proves unachievable. The troops could be dispatched in response to a request from the Ukraine, in exercise of the inherent right of collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, in full accordance with international law.

Ukrainian territory–the Crimean peninsula–remains under Russian occupation following its aggression against the Ukraine.

Moreover, having abrogated the treaty arrangements which granted Russia the right to maintain a certain number of troops and its naval base at Sevastopol (the terms of which to be sure were violated during the Russian invasion), if that termination is legally valid (which is dubious), there would be no legal basis under international law for the presence of any Russian forces in the Crimea.

Russia incidentally is committing economic aggression against the Ukraine by raising the price of gas above market levels, and insisting that the Ukraine repay $11 billion in discounts which it granted to the Ukraine in exchange for an extension of the naval base agreements.

The Russian legal argument for repayment of the discounts is ludicrous, in effect claiming that they don’t owe the Ukraine any discounts under the treaty because the Crimea is a part of Russia. In other words, if you have a lease and related agreements with another country for the use of certain assets, and you invade that country and seize those assets by military force, the original obligations are void. Unbelievably, that is the Russian position.

Not one independent court in the world, domestic or international, would uphold that argument. But then the Russians are not thinking in terms of independent courts, or international law as it might be determined by an independent international tribunal.

Urgent Measures to Stop Russian Aggression

It is quite possible that the invasion of Russian-speaking regions of the Ukraine will take place in the near future, within weeks if not days, long before Europe can develop a consensus on how to block such action. This is precisely what happened in the Crimea, and there is every reasons to suppose that Putin is similarly prepared to move quickly, before effective blocking measures can be adopted by the West.

Consequently, at this very moment the West may be facing its last chance to block a Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Before it is too late, NATO and the West should consider and adopt the following measures on an extremely urgent basis:

1. The first step, which should begin immediately, is for the U.S. and the EU to adopt new sanctions that would prohibit any U.S. or EU financial institution or company from handling transactions or doing business with any financial institution doing business in the Crimea, or any Russian or other company doing business in the Crimea, until such time as the annexation and military occupation have been undone, restoring the situation to the status quo ante prior to Russian military intervention.

The sanctions should be adopted as permanent sanctions which will not be lifted until the stated conditions are met.

The current EU sanctions are valid for only six months and must be renewed in order to be continued. Given this proviso, it is no wonder that Putin hasn’t taken them seriously.

Moreover, the precedent of only a six-month authorization, in Putin’s thinking and probably that of the EU nations, would also be used even if so-called “third-stage” sanctions are adopted by the EU in response to further aggression. That means that in six months Russia would only have to peel off one EU member state in order for the sanctions to lapse.

2. The second measure, which should be implemented immediately, is the dispatch to the Ukraine of 20,000 troops from NATO or individual Western countries to assist the Ukraine in its defense against current and threatened Russian aggression.

3. NATO should immediately issue a statement saying that in view of Russian aggression and the threat of further aggression against the Ukraine, its earlier statements that the use of force is not under consideration are no longer in effect, and that it will respond to any military aggression in the Ukraine in a manner which is appropriate under the circumstances.

4. Certain so-called “third-stage sanctions” should be progressively implemented over the next six months if Putin does not restore the Crimea to the status quo ante prior to the Russian invasion. The sanctions should be carefully planned, be meaningful, and progressively implemented in accordance with a time table which is made public. The message to Putin should be, loud and clear: The annexation of the Crimea will not stand.

Putin must be stopped.

The Stakes

Europeans and Americans should stop to think for a minute of the sacrifices their countrymen have already made to ensure that no further territories will be invaded or annexed–as in WW II, for example. Both the Korean war and the Gulf war were fought to uphold this principle. Many in the U.S. also believed that the Vietnam war was a response to invasion from the North (which in fact turned out to be the case, we now know).

If they do stop and think, they may come to understand that we are no longer in normal times, and that what is perhaps the greatest threat to international peace and security since the Korean war must be confronted directly, now, and if necessary by the defensive use of military force.

This is a tall order for the leaders of Europe, the U.S. and the West, who up until now have manifested strong pacifist inclinations and a willingness to consider appeasement in response to the Russian takeover of the Crimea.

But no less than this is required, if the postwar political, economic and legal order is to be upheld and maintained.

The Trenchant Observer

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February 22, 2014: U.N. Security Council unanimously approves Resolution 2139 (2014) on humanitarian access in Syria (with full text of Resolution)

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

“Unanimously approved, Security Council resolution demands aid access in Syria,” U.N. News Centre, February 22, 2014

For the text of the resolution, and statements by delegations, see the Security Council Press Release, U.N. doc. SC/11292, February 22, 2014.

The full text of the Resolution itself follows:

U.N. Security Council Resolution 2139 (2014)

“The Security Council,

“Recalling its resolutions 2042 (2012), 2043 (2012) and 2118 (2013), and its presidential statements of 3 August 2011, 21 March 2012, 5 April 2012 and 2 October 2013,

“Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, and to the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

“Being appalled at the unacceptable and escalating level of violence and the death of well over 100,000 people in Syria, including over 10,000 children, as reported by the UN Secretary-General and the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict,

“Expressing grave alarm at the significant and rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Syria, in particular the dire situation of hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in besieged areas, most of whom are besieged by the Syrian armed forces and some by opposition groups, as well as the dire situation of over 3 million people in hard-to-reach areas, and deploring the difficulties in providing, and the failure to provide, access for the humanitarian assistance to all civilians in need inside Syria,

“Emphasizing the need to respect the UN guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance and stressing the importance of such assistance being delivered on the basis of need, devoid of any political prejudices and aims, commending the efforts of the United Nations and all humanitarian and medical personnel in Syria and in neighbouring countries, and condemning all acts or threats of violence against United Nations staff and humanitarian actors, which have resulted in the death, injury and detention of many humanitarian personnel,

“Expressing grave concern at the increasing number of refugees and internally displaced persons caused by the conflict in Syria, which has a destabilising impact on the entire region, and underscoring its appreciation for the significant and admirable efforts that have been made by the countries of the region, notably Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt, to accommodate the more than 2.4 million refugees who have fled Syria as a result of the on-going violence, while acknowledging the enormous political, socioeconomic and financial impact of the presence of large-scale populations in these countries, and underscoring the need for all parties to respect and maintain the security and civilian character of camps for refugees and internally displaced persons,

“Welcoming the pledges totalling $2.5 billion at the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria, hosted by Kuwait on 15 January 2014, and expressing its appreciation to Member States and regional and subregional organizations that have pledged to provide humanitarian assistance to people in need in all parts of Syria, including internally displaced persons, as well as to refugees in neighbouring host countries, and calling on all Member States to ensure the timely disbursement of pledges and continued support in line with growing humanitarian needs,

“Calling on all parties to immediately end all violence which has led to human suffering in Syria, save Syria’s rich societal mosaic and cultural heritage, and take appropriate steps to ensure the protection of Syria’s World Heritage Sites,

“Strongly condemning the increased terrorist attacks resulting in numerous casualties and destruction carried out by organizations and individuals associated with Al-Qaida, its affiliates and other terrorist groups, and reiterating its call on all parties to commit to putting an end to terrorist acts perpetrated by such organizations and individuals, while reaffirming that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed,

“Expressing its regret that its presidential statement of 2 October 2013 (S/PRST/2013/15) has not delivered as expected and has not yet translated into meaningful progress on the ground, and that humanitarian aid delivery continues to be impeded throughout Syria, while condemning all cases of denial of humanitarian access and recalling that arbitrary denial of humanitarian access and depriving civilians of objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supply and access, can constitute a violation of international humanitarian law,

“Emphasizing that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution to the crisis, reiterating its endorsement of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 (Annex II of Resolution 2118 (2113)) and demanding that all parties work towards the immediate and comprehensive implementation of the Geneva Communiqué aimed at bringing an immediate end to all violence, violations and abuses of human rights and violations of international law, and facilitating the Syrian-led political process launched in Montreux on 22 January 2014, leading to a transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future,

“1. Strongly condemns the widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Syrian authorities, as well as the human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law by armed groups, including all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, as well as all grave violations and abuses committed against children in contravention of applicable international law, such as recruitment and use, killing and maiming, rape, attacks on schools and hospitals as well as arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, ill treatment and use as human shields, as described in the United Nations Secretary-General’s report on children and armed conflict in Syria (S/2014/31);

“2. Demands that all parties immediately put an end to all forms of violence, irrespective of where it comes from, cease and desist from all violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights, and reaffirm their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, and stresses that some of these violations may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity;

“3. Demands that all parties immediately cease all attacks against civilians, as well as the indiscriminate employment of weapons in populated areas, including shelling and aerial bombardment, such as the use of barrel bombs, and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, and recalls in this regard the obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law in all circumstances, and further recalls, in particular, the obligation to distinguish between civilian populations and combatants, and the prohibition against indiscriminate attacks, and attacks against civilians and civilian objects as such;

“4. Demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, fully implement the provisions of the 2 October 2013 statement by the President of the Security Council (S/PRST/2013/15) including through facilitating the expansion of humanitarian relief operations, in accordance with applicable provisions of international humanitarian law and the UN guiding principles of humanitarian emergency assistance;

“5. Calls upon all parties to immediately lift the sieges of populated areas, including in the Old City of Homs (Homs), Nubl and Zahra (Aleppo), Madamiyet Elsham (Rural Damascus), Yarmouk (Damascus), Eastern Ghouta (Rural Damascus), Darayya (Rural Damascus) and other locations, and demands that all parties allow the delivery of humanitarian assistance, including medical assistance, cease depriving civilians of food and medicine indispensable to their survival, and enable the rapid, safe and unhindered evacuation of all civilians who wish to leave, and underscores the need for the parties to agree on humanitarian pauses, days of tranquillity, localised cease-fires and truces to allow humanitarian agencies safe and unhindered access to all affected areas in Syria, recalling that starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited by international humanitarian law;

“6. Demands that all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, promptly allow rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access for UN humanitarian agencies and their implementing partners, including across conflict lines and across borders, in order to ensure that humanitarian assistance reaches people in need through the most direct routes;

“7. Urges all parties, in particular the Syrian authorities, to take all appropriate steps to facilitate the efforts of the United Nations, its specialized agencies, and all humanitarian actors engaged in humanitarian relief activities, to provide immediate humanitarian assistance to the affected people in Syria, including by promptly facilitating safe and unhindered humanitarian access to populations in need of assistance in all areas under their control, and encourages further cooperation between the United Nations, its specialized agencies and all parties concerned, including Syrian civil society organisations, to facilitate access and the delivery of assistance in the entirety of the Syrian territory;

“8. Demands that all parties respect the principle of medical neutrality and facilitate free passage to all areas for medical personnel, equipment, transport and supplies, including surgical items, and recalls that under international humanitarian law, the wounded and sick must receive, to the fullest extent practicable, and with the least possible delay, medical care and attention required by their condition and that medical and humanitarian personnel, facilities and transport must be respected and protected, and expresses grave concern in this regard at the removal of medical supplies from humanitarian shipments;

“9. Also demands that all parties take all appropriate steps to protect civilians, including members of ethnic, religious and confessional communities, and stresses that, in this regard, the primary responsibility to protect its population lies with the Syrian authorities;

“10. Further demands that all parties demilitarize medical facilities, schools and other civilian facilities and avoid establishing military positions in populated areas and desist from attacks directed against civilian objects;

“11. Strongly condemns the arbitrary detention and torture of civilians in Syria, notably in prisons and detention facilities, as well as the kidnappings, abductions and forced disappearances, and demands the immediate end of these practices and the release of all arbitrarily detained persons starting with women and children, as well as sick, wounded and elderly people and including UN personnel and journalists;

“12. Urges all parties to take all appropriate steps to ensure the safety and security of United Nations personnel, those of its specialized agencies, and all other personnel engaged in humanitarian relief activities, without prejudice to their freedom of movement and access, stresses that the primary responsibility in this regard lies with the Syrian authorities and further stresses the need not to impede these efforts;

“13. Stresses the need to end impunity for violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights, and reaffirms that those who have committed or are otherwise responsible for such violations and abuses in Syria must be brought to justice;

“14. Strongly condemns the increased terrorist attacks resulting in numerous casualties and destruction carried out by organisations and individuals associated with Al-Qaida, its affiliates and other terrorist groups, urges the opposition groups to maintain their rejection of these organizations and individuals which are responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law in opposition-held areas, calls upon the Syrian authorities and opposition groups to commit to combating and defeating organizations and individuals associated with Al-Qaida, its affiliates and other terrorist groups, demands that all foreign fighters immediately withdraw from Syria, and reaffirms that terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security, and that any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever and by whomsoever committed;

“15. Emphasizes that the humanitarian situation will continue to deteriorate in the absence of a political solution, welcomes in this regard the Geneva Conference on Syria launched in Montreux on 22 January 2014, and demands that all parties work towards the comprehensive implementation of the Geneva Communiqué of 30 June 2012 leading to a genuine political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people and enables them independently and democratically to determine their own future, and further stresses that rapid progress on a political solution should include full participation by all groups and segments of Syrian society, including women, and represents the only sustainable opportunity to resolve the situation in Syria peacefully, and that the implementation of this resolution is key to meeting the humanitarian needs of the Syrian people;

“16. Urges all Member States to contribute or increase their support to the United Nations’ humanitarian appeals to meet the spiralling needs of people affected by the crisis, and to provide this support in coordination with the relevant United Nations agencies, and to ensure that all pledges are honoured in full, and further urges all Member States, based on burden sharing principles, to support the neighbouring host countries to enable them to respond to the growing humanitarian needs, including by providing direct support;

“17. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council on the implementation of this resolution by all parties in Syria, in particular paragraphs 2 through 12, in 30 days of its adoption and every 30 days thereafter, and upon receipt of the Secretary-General’s report, expresses its intent to take further steps in the case of non-compliance with this resolution;

“18. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

The Trenchant Observer

Putin’s seizure of the Crimea and Hitler’s seizure of the Sudetenland: The comparison is accurate

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

After seizing the Sudetenland, Adolf Hitler began persecuting the Jews in the newly annexed territories. That Vladimir Putin has not done.

In other major respects, Putin’s military seizure of the Crimea is comparable to Hitler’s seizure of the Sudetenland. These include the “Big Lie” that citizens sharing the culture and language of the aggressor were being persecuted, the mobilization of local paramilitary forces to support the invasion, and annexation of the respective territories to that of the invading nation. One difference is that Hitler, through the threat of military force, secured the acquiesence of France and Great Britain and the support of Italy through the signing of the infamous Munich Pact on September 30, 1938, by Eduoard Daladier, Neville Chamberlain and Benito Mussolini.

Statements by German leaders denying the comparison between Putin and Hitler may be dictated by a perceived need not to antagonize the aggressor, who is actively threatening further aggression with tens of thousands of troops poised on the border with the Ukraine. They are, however, factually inaccurate.

Alternatively, reluctance to admit the comparison may have deeper causes rooted in German pacifism and a willingness to try to solve the crisis through appeasement.

Putin has indeed used Hitler’s tactics in the Crimea. His threat of further aggression, backed by troops on the Ukrainian border, must be taken very seriously, as he could quite possibly be planning to invade Ukraine proper just as Hitler invaded “rump” Czechoslovakia in March, 1939.

See:

Carsten Luther, “Diesmal hilft die Hitler-Keule (Kommentar), Die Zeit, Aktualisiert 31. März 2014 (19:46 Uhr)

Wolfgang Schäuble hat Putins Annexion der Krim mit Hitlers Verhalten im Sudetenland verglichen. Die Aufregung ist groß, doch die Parallele stimmt. EIN KOMMENTAR VON CARSTEN LUTHER, 493 Kommentare

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