Archive for the ‘Justice Department’ Category

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

Friday, September 12th, 2014


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

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

The Trenchant Observer

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

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Trenchant Observer

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

Monday, September 8th, 2014

UPDATE (September 10, 2014)

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

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

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

Latest developments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finland Reportedly blocks implementation of New EU Sanctions Against Russia

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

We now know that its weakest link is Finland.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can thank Finland for putting it all at risk.

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

The Trenchant Observer

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

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Latest News and Opinion


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Ensure the immediate bilateral ceasefire.

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

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

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

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

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

7. Continue the inclusive national dialogue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Trenchant Observer

REPRISE: Overt Russian military invasion of the Ukraine underway; West must impose harsh stage 3 sanctions immediately

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

In the last five days, following new incursions by the regular armed forces of Russia including one to the South toward Mariupol, and the much-anticipated Minsk meeting (in a group) between Vladimir Putin and Petro Petroshenko, nothing has changed.

The analysis and recommendations republshed below have lost none of their urgency.


Originally published on August 22, 2014

Putin has challenged directly the existing international political and legal order, upon which, incidentally, the world’s economic order rests.

Either Putin and Russia win, or the West and the other civilized countries of the world win.

It is that stark and simple.

The Russian invasion of the eastern Ukraine by regular Russian forces in underway. Russian artillery manned by Russian soldiers is today firing on Ukrainian troops from within the Ukraine.


(1) Michael R. Gordon, “Russia Moves Artillery Units Into Ukraine, NATO Says,. New York Times, August 22, 2014.

(2) NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, “Statement”, August 22, 2014. See NATO, “NATO Secretary General condemns entry of Russian convoy into Ukraine,” August 22, 2014.

(3) “Russische Soldaten sollen in Ukraine kämpfen; Russische Streitkräfte haben laut Nato-Angaben die ukrainische Armee beschossen. Das Militärbündnis warnt vor einer Eskalation, am Abend tagt der UN-Sicherheitsrat, ” Die Zeit, 22. August 2014 (Aktualisiert um 20:59 Uhr).

The Russian “humanitarian aid” convoy of up to 280 trucks has entered into the Ukraine without Ukrainian authorization.

While posing a direct threat to the Ukraine, the larger function of the truck convoy may turn out to have been to serve as a decoy, distracting the West’s attention from the direct invasion of the Ukraine by the Russian military, moving at night across the border along unnarked dirt tracks or through open fields.

The invasion is pretty much on target for the 46th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 20, 1968. It signals the outbreak of an outright war between Russia and the Ukraine.

What can the West and other civilized nations do?

First, they must impose really harsh stage 3 (third-stage) sanctions against Russia.

Only the execution of prior threats will give any future threats the slightest credence.

These measures must include immediate cancellation of all defense contracts, including the French delivery of two Mistral-class warships to Russia, and a cessation of French training of Russian sailors to operate them which is currently underway in France.

The imposition of these sanctions is the only step that might contribute to ending the war.

Failure to impose these threatened sanctions now will undermine all those in Russia who may be arguing for an end to the invasion and in favor of maintenance of economic relations with the West.

Second, large and serious military assistance to the Ukraine should commence at once.

Third, accelerated decisions regarding the forward-basing of NATO forces in Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania; and termination or at least total suspension of the NATO-Russia partnership agreement, which Russia has flagrantly breached.

Europe and America must wake up, take a hard look at the realities of the Russian invasion, and react accordingly.

NATO, which was founded to deter Soviet aggression in Europe, must now prove that there are reasons for its continued existence. If it does not react now, it will be too late when the Russians begin further “stealth invasions” in the Baltics.

It is time to turn away from the path of appeasement, and to start defending the values of the West, including the U.N. Charter and the rule of law–on both the international and the domestic levels.

Putin has challenged directly the existing international political and legal order, upon which, incidentally, the world’s economic order rests.

Either Putin and Russia win, or the West and the other civilized countries of the world win.

It is that stark and simple.

As was the case with Adolf Hitler.

The Trenchant Observer

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

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014


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

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

Why should the West do that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

International law must be upheld.

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

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

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

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

Russia has not halted that support.

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

The Trenchant Observer

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

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

With Putin, what is there to talk about?

Is it wise policy to negotiate with a terrorist?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Trenchant Observer

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

Friday, August 15th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Security Council should reconvene in emergency session immediately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Observateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

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

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At this late hour, the West slumbers, still.

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

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

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

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

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

What can the West do?

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

The “rational actor fallacy” must be avoided.

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

That will require very forceful actions.

The following actions are urgently recommended:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Containment” of Russia must begin.

It must begin immediately.

The Trenchant Observer

Obama: “We tortured some folks…It’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks (our law enforcement and our national security teams) were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.” (full transcript)

Friday, August 1st, 2014


Excerpt from President Barack Obama’s press conference today, Fiday, August 1, 2014:

Q What about John Brennan?


On Brennan and the CIA, the RDI report has been transmitted, the declassified version that will be released at the pleasure of the Senate committee.

I have full confidence in John Brennan. I think he has acknowledged and directly apologized to Senator Feinstein that CIA personnel did not properly handle an investigation as to how certain documents that were not authorized to be released to the Senate staff got somehow into the hands of the Senate staff. And it’s clear from the IG report that some very poor judgment was shown in terms of how that was handled. Keep in mind, though, that John Brennan was the person who called for the IG report, and he’s already stood up a task force to make sure that lessons are learned and mistakes are resolved.

With respect to the larger point of the RDI report itself, even before I came into office I was very clear that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 we did some things that were wrong. We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks. We did some things that were contrary to our values.

I understand why it happened. I think it’s important when we look back to recall how afraid people were after the Twin Towers fell and the Pentagon had been hit and the plane in Pennsylvania had fallen, and people did not know whether more attacks were imminent, and there was enormous pressure on our law enforcement and our national security teams to try to deal with this. And it’s important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.

But having said all that, we did some things that were wrong. And that’s what that report reflects. And that’s the reason why, after I took office, one of the first things I did was to ban some of the extraordinary interrogation techniques that are the subject of that report.

And my hope is, is that this report reminds us once again that the character of our country has to be measured in part not by what we do when things are easy, but what we do when things are hard. And when we engaged in some of these enhanced interrogation techniques, techniques that I believe and I think any fair-minded person would believe were torture, we crossed a line. And that needs to be — that needs to be understood and accepted. And we have to, as a country, take responsibility for that so that, hopefully, we don’t do it again in the future.

–Transcript, Press Conference by the President, White House, James S. Brady Press Briefing Room, August 1, 2014 (2:45 P.M. EDT). The text of the transcipt is found here.

It’s hard to know what is more shocking: 1) the casual language the President used in admitting torture; 2) what he actually said (calling torturers “real patriots”; or 3) the fact that he seemed totally oblivious to the import and impact of what he was saying.

The Trenchant Observer