Archive for the ‘U.N. Security Council’ Category

Update on Putin and Syria

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Update: Cut-off of provision of electricity to the Crimea, and the downing of a Russian plane by Turkey on November 24, 2015

Two events have now pushed relations with Putin to a dangerous edge.

The first is sabotage by Ukrainian activists of the high tension electrical network in the Ukraine which supplies rhe Crimea with some 75-80% of its electrical power. The Crimea is cut off from electricity and has largely gone dark, a dramatic fact widely reported on Russian television and in the Russian media.


“Crimeans Putting On Brave Faces, But Frustration Mounting Over Blackout,” RFE/RL, November 25, 2015.

The second is the shooting down by a Turkish aircraft of a Russian military aircraft attacking the positions of “moderate” anti-Assad insurgents close to the border with Turkey, after the Russian aircraft entered Turkish airspace, according to Turkey.

Any attack by Russian forces on Turkish territory in response could potentially trigger the collective self-defense obligations contained in Article 5 of the NATO treay. Turkey is a member.

The moment is extremely perilous, because based on his past actions Putin can be expected to react to these events in a sharp and potentially dangerous manner. NATO and the West need to prepare, now, a forceful but calibrated response to any action Putin might take in response to these two events

All leaders should now focus on de-escalating the military tensions between Turkey and NATO forces, on the one hand, and Russian forces on the other.

Otherwise, the world could easily stumble into an escalating military confrontation between Russia and NATO, which would have the potential of leading to nuclear war.

This would be wildly irrational, of course.

As was the onset of the First World War in 1914.

Mistakes, unintended consequences of organizational routines, and pure accidents can have a decisive impact on world events.

It is folly to have the air forces of Russia, the United States, and other countries conducting bombing operations in Syria under a non-unified command. The mere idea of successfully “deconflicting” air missions conducted by Russia and other countries is based on an illusion of precision that does not exist in the real world.

Instead of continuing this dangerous pattern over Syria, the United States, the West, Turkey and the Arab states need to stop trying to paper over the hard conflicts which exist between Russia, al-Assad, Hezbollah, and Iran, on the one hand, and the United States, France, Arab forces, and Turkey, on the other.

The goal of Western policy should be to halt Russian attacks on “moderate” insurgents who are challenging al-Assad. This involves a direct clash between Russian and Western interests. The West has enormous economic powers at its command to use in dealing with Putin. It should use them, to secure a change on the ground, while avoiding endless negotiations with al-Assad and Russia aimed at achieving the wholly illusory goal of a “negotiated solution” to the Syrian conflict.

Negotiations without a change in Russian policy on the ground in Syria–not in verbal formulations, but in actions–will only help Russia as it seeks to destroy the “moderate” insurgents who threaten al-Assad, while helping him to consolidate his hold on power in the area he controls.

Russia is complicit in the commission by al-Assad of crimes against humanity and war crimes on a massive scale, and is responsible itself under international law for the commission of these crimes. The U.S., the E.U. and other countries should impose strong economic sanctions against Russia until it ceases its complicity in the commission of these crimes. Such actions would be permissible as lawful countermeasures under international law.

In Syria, as in the Ukraine, the time has finally come for the United States and its allies to stand up to and to push back against Russia and Vladimir Putin.

The Trenchant Observer

Thinking clearly about Putin and Syria

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Barack Obama, John Kerry and other Western leaders should always bear in mind wiho Vladimir Putin is, and what he has done in the last four years with respect to Syria, the Crimea, the eastern Ukraine, and in challenging NATO at every turn. Nor should they forget his probable role in the assassination in Moscow of his leading opponent, Boris Nemtsov, on February 27, 2015.

They should never forget that Putin and Russia pose a direct challenge and continuing assault on the post-World War II international legal and security order, anchored by the United Nations Charter and its prohibition in Article 2 (4) of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.

The United Nations Charter is the cornerstone of the framework of international law and institutions which govern relations between states.  They protect not only the territorial integrity of states but also guarantee the observance of fundamental human rights such as the right to life, the physical integrity of the human person, due process of law, free speech, and the right to participate in government.

Putin by his “annexation” of the Crimea and ongoing invasion and occupation of the eastern Ukraine stands in opposition to all of that.

Since Russia’s and China’s veto of a mild U.N. Security Council resolution on February 4, 2012, Russia has played a dirty game in Syria.

Russia has done everything it could to support Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime, which has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity on a massive scale. These crimes, which are ongoing, have resulted in the deaths of 250,000 to 300,000 Syrians, displaced millions of refugees, and helped to create the space in which ISIS has been allowed to grow and thrive.

The massive war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by al-Assad, with Russia’s complicity and support, have constituted an important element in the appeal of ISIS which has drawn tens of thousands of suporters from around the world to join its cause.

The U.N. peace process in Syria, which followed the Arab League’s 2011 peace process, was first headed by Kofi Annan in 2012, and subsequently led to two Geneva peace conferences.  It has served principally to provide Western countries with a pretext for not using force to bring al-Assad’s atrocities to an end, and Russia with a diplomatic vehicle to maintain him in power.

The idea of a negotiated solution to the multi-sided civil war in Syria is a pure illusion, under current circumstances.  This is the case even more so now than when Kofi Annan offered his “castles in the sky”, which  succeeded only in forestalling any significant use of force by the West to halt al-Assad’s atrocities.

“There can be no military solution in Syria, only a negotiated outcome” has been the mantra of those unwillng to take effective action against al-Assad. It worked for the Russians up until recently, when the growing threat of ISIS became manifest with the seizure of Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq, and most recently with deadly attacks on foreign soil and against a Russian airliner in Paris, Beirut, and on the Sinai peninsula.

Francois Hollande now seeks to build an international military coalition against ISIS with the Russians, following the November 13 bombings in Paris.

This is the same Hollande who was ready to sell NATO down the river with his insistence on the sale of two Mistral-class warships to Russia even after Russian “annexation” of the Crimea and in the face of its ongoing invasion of the eastern Ukraine.

It is the same Francois Hollande who with Angela Merkel negotiated a deal with Putin in October, in the so-called “Normandy format”, which removed the December 31, 2015 deadline for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters from the eastern Ukraine which had been established under the terms of the Minsk II Agreement of February 12, 2015.

There is of course already a coalition against ISIS, but one which Barack Obama has not led effectively in carrying out urgent military actions.

Hollande, at least, is trying to lead a coalition of states willing to take forceful military action. The extent to which he is playing the Russian game and/or is a dupe of Putin must be carefully and constantly analyzed, however, given his obvious interest in the lifting of EU sanctions against Russia.  In any event, Hollande will have to coordinate with the Americans.

Washington and NATO, for their part, should be extremely wary of any close cooperation with the Russians. Putin’s goal is to maintain Bashar al-Assad in power and to block any military actions against his regime by holding out illusions of “a political solution”.  At the same time, he seeks to undermine Western solidarity for upholding the economic sanctions imposed against Russia in response to its seizure of the Crimea and its ongoing invasion of the eastern Ukraine.

The West does not need Russia to take down ISIS. They don’t need Russia to secure “a political solution” in Syria, because such a solution is a pure illusion, and will remain one until facts on the ground have changed, including an end to Russia’s support of al-Assad and its attacks on non-ISIS insurgents seeking to overthrow him.

Above all, the West must resolutely resist any temptation to enter into an agreement with Putin that would lead toward a lifting of sanctions against Russia in exchange for Russian “cooperation” in resolving the Syrian conflict.

The Trenchant Observer

REPRISE: Veterans’ Day, 2011: “Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?”

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

First published, November 11, 2011

My uncle died in a field in northern France with a German bullet in his head. To him, and all the other veterans of America’s wars, I am immensely grateful for his, and their, sacrifice.

The Vision of Peace After World War II

At the end of World War II, the leaders of the world had a clear vision of the horrors of war, and acted with resolution to bring wars to a halt through the creation of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945, and by codifying the international law governing the use of force in Article 2 paragraph 4 and Article 51 of the U.N. Charter. Article 2 paragraph 4 prohibited the use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of members of the organization, a prohibition later extended to include all states. Article 51 provided for an exception in the case of an “armed attack”. These provisions have become customary international law and, importantly, also aquired the status of jus cogens or peremptory law from which there can be no exception or derogation by agreement.

A Vision of Perpetual War

Unfortunately, President Barack Obama and the United States are currently embarked on a policy based on the assumption of perpetual war. The implementation of this policy includes targeted assassinations through drone strikes and other means, the establishment of new drone bases throughout the northern part of Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia, and the development of new generations of drones some of which are as small as insects.

This policy has been implemented with little regard for the international law governing the use of force, and even less regard for the duty of the United States to contribute to the development of international law and institutions that can help ensure the security of the United States and other countries in the future.

These actions indicate that the United States has no current vision of peace as an overriding goal to be achieved, and no coherent strategy for actually achieving this objective.

Without the goal of peace, we are not likely to take the actions necessary to achieve peace, or to give those actions the urgent priority they should receive.

Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing?

In these circumstances, one is reminded of Pete Seeger’s famous song entitled “Where have all the flowers gone?” For the lyrics, click here.

Pete Seeger’s performance of this song is available on YouTube here.

See also,, “Grandpa’s War – A Veteran’s Day Post,” November 11, 2011, which contains recollections of America’s recent wars, and a link to a clip of Pete Seeger singing ” Where have all the flowers gone” with a moving montage of photographs evoking American experiences of war, created by the TheSpadecaller in 2008.

Joan Baez, in a more recent performance of the song, can be found on YouTube here.

Marlene Dietrich’s recording of this song in English is also found on YouTube here.

For Dietrich’s performance of the song in French, see “Qui peut dire ou vont les fleurs?” here.

For her performance of the German version of this song, see “Sag mir wo die Blumen sind”, here.

Marlene Dietrich, in a version of perhaps her most famous song, “Lili Marleen”, written in 1915 and later a hit among troops on both sides during World War II, takes us back to November 11, 1918 and the terrible war that preceded the armistice on that day. Her recording of the song, in English, is found on YouTube here. The original German version of the song is found here.

Obama’s Vision of Perpetual War and International Law

In his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech in Oslo, on December 10, 2009, President Obama said:

In the wake of such destruction (World War II), and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another world war. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations – an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this prize – America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, restrict the most dangerous weapons.

I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth: We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.

To begin with, I believe that all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don’t.

Closely parsed, these statements are full of contradictions, as when President Obama affirms:

(1) “We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.”
(2) “To begin with, I believe that all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force.”
(3) “I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation”; and
(4) “Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards, international standards, strengthens those who do, and isolates and weakens those who don’t.”

Affirmation (1) accepts violent conflict as inevitable. (2) states that all nations must adhere to the norms that govern the use of force. (3) states that he, the president, “like any head of state”, reserves the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend his nation. And (4) states he is convinced adhering to “international standards” strengthens those who do.

These contradictions in Obama’s thinking, it is submitted, have contributed to the incoherence of U.S. foreign policy, particularly when measured against the requirements of international law, and the historical burden of strengthening international law and building better international institutions, which is no less important today than it was in 1945.

Reading these excerpts and the whole speech reveals that the president does not have a clear vision of peace as the goal, or a strategy on how to achieve that goal. While he pays lip service to observing international law, he insists that he has the paradoxical right–“like any head of state”–to violate it if necessary, in his view. So much for the concept of international law governing the use of force.

Without the clear and overriding goal of peace or a strategy for achieving peace, it is hard to see how we and other nations can view as the highest priority taking the steps necessary to achieve peace.

President Obama and the United States currently seem to have no overarching vision of peace, or strategy for achieving peace. As a result, their policies and actions are not guided by the pursuance of this goal in a strategic sense, but rather only by the demands of meeting with expediency the challenges of the moment.

By way of contrast, consider, if you will, the vision of the founders of the United Nations in 1945, particularly as set forth in the Preamble and Articles 1, 2, and 51 of the Charter.

We in the United States, like citizens in other countries, need a strong vision of peace and a coherent strategy for achieving it. Consequently, we need a president who has such a vision, and is guided by it.

The Trenchant Observer

Kerry and Obama’s strategy on Syria: Work through the Russians and thow a “Hail Mary” pass on negotiations

Sunday, September 20th, 2015


MICHAEL R. GORDON and ERIC SCHMITT, “Russian Buildup in Syria Raises Questions on Role,” New York Times, September 19, 2015.

Stefan Braun, Berlin, und Nicolas Richter, Washington, “Syrien-Konflikt: Kerry und Steinmeier hoffen auf Putin; Gibt es doch noch eine diplomatische Lösung des Syrien-Konflikts? Ein Angebot aus Moskau klingt für die USA und Europa vielversprechend. Aber welches Ziel verfolgt Russlands Präsident Wladimir Putin wirklich?” Suddeutscher Zeitung, 21. September 2015 (06:14 Uhr).

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have no strategy for dealing with the Syrian crisis, and as we pointed out a few days ago are basically clueless.

See “Russia and the U.S. flying missions in Syrian airspace — Failed U.S. Policies lead to dangerous situation as Russia makes strategic military move into Syria,” The Trenchant Observer, September 18, 2015.

Gordon and Schmitt describe this disastrous situation in Kerry’s own words

“We need to get to the negotiation,” Mr. Kerry said at a joint news conference with (British Foreign Secretary Philip) Hammond. “That’s what we’re looking for, and we hope Russia and Iran, other countries with influence, will help to bring that about, because that’s what’s preventing this crisis from ending.”

Right now, Assad has refused to have a serious discussion,” Mr. Kerry added, “and Russia has refused to help bring him to the table in order to do that.”

Kerry focuses on the issue of Assad’s departure, as if that would bring the hell that the conflicts in Syria have become to a resolution. His suggestion is basically similar to that which led to the U.N. Geneva II Conference on Syria in January, 2014, which produced absolutely no results, not even an agreement to keep talking.

What will be needed to resolve the Syrian crisis goes far beyond Assad’s departure. Something like a U.N. Authority for Syria will eventually have to be established under Security Council auspices in order to bring any kind of peace to that country.

The fact that Kerry entertains the idea of negotiating with Russia and al-Assad ignores the fact that any agreement with al-Assad would be utterly meaningless given his track record, and an agreement with Russia would not be worth much more, given Putin’s own record of backing al Assad’s broken promises in Syria and breaking his own in the Ukraine.

Gordon and Schmitt report,

Kerry and Hammond “emphasized that Mr. Assad could not remain in power if there was to be a durable solution to the conflict, but they said that the timing of his departure during a political transition in Syria would be a matter of negotiation.

“It doesn’t have to be on Day 1 or Month 1,” Mr. Kerry said. “There is a process by which all the parties have to come together and reach an understanding of how this can best be achieved.”

The policy, if you can call it that, is to “work through the Russians” and to throw a “Hail Mary pass” on negotiations, hoping that through some divine intervention negotiations might lead to a solution to the conflict, when there is virtually no evidence to suggest that might happen.

That’s where John Kerry and Barack Obama are on Syria. Out of the game, entertaining phantasies and completely ignoring the events in the country over the last four years.

The Trenchant Observer

Theo Sommer: “The wars come to us.”

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015


No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.
John Donne, Meditation XVII
English clergyman & poet (1572-1631)

Theo Sommer, a leading German intellectual and columnist, has now connected the dots between the wars Europe sought to ignore and the flood of refugees now streaming across their borders. Walls will not keep the refugees and other migrants out. The problems must be dealt with at the source, he rightly maintains.


Theo Sommer (Kolumne), “Die Kriege kommen zu uns; Der Ansturm der Flüchtlinge lässt sich nur stoppen, wenn die Konflikte im Mittleren Osten und in Libyen gelöst werden. Bis dahin ist europäische Solidarität gefragt,” Die Zeit, 15. September 2015 (7:34 Uhr).

Sommer quotes Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission, who said in a speech to the European Parliament last week, “So long as war rules in Syria and terror in Libya, the refugee crisis will not end.”

The Trenchant Observer

Crumbling world order: Power politics and international law—the way forward

Thursday, September 10th, 2015


Stefan Kornelius, “Putins Machtspiele; Ruhe in der Ukraine, Druck in Syrien. Russlands Präsident sendet rätselhafte Signale. Sucht er einen Weg aus der Isolation? Oder einen neuen Schauplatz, um Stärke zu zeigen?” Suddeutscher Zeitung, 9. September 2015 (19:05 Uhr).

MICHAEL R. GORDON and ERIC SCHMITT, “U.S. Moves to Block Russian Military Buildup in Syria,” New York Times, September 8, 2015.

The post-World War II political and legal order appears to be crumbling.  At no other time since 1945 have the fundamental norms of the United Nations Charter and the prohibition of the threat or use of force been so widely violated with such an absence of invocation of international law by major countries in the world.

Russia has invaded and seized part of the Ukraine, the Crimea, and almost nowhere does one hear serious demands for Russian withdrawal and a return to the status quo ante, as required by international law. When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled with a delegation to meet with Vladimir Putin and the Russians in Sochi, the issue was not even mentioned.

Russia continues its invasion of the eastern Ukraine, with thousands of Russian troops, tanks, artillery and other war equipment stationed in the Donetsk and Luhansk provinces (Oblasts) of the Ukraine.

In Syria, the United States and other NATO countries, including Turkey, are engaged in military activities against the so-called Islamic State, the al-Nusra Front, and other jihadist groups. Ankara has been attacking the PKK in Kurdish parts of Syria, and recently has even launched attacks against claimed PKK targets in Iraqi Kurdestan. A number of countries are assisting Iraq and the U.S. in attacking IS positions within Iraq.

In Yemen, a Saudi-led coalition is conducting air strikes against Houthi- held positions.

Within the last year Egypt conducted airstrikes against Libyan militia groups in retaliation for the murder of Egyptian workers.

Israel has conducted a number of air strikes within Syria aimed at preventing the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, and also launched air strikes against targets in the Golan Heights.

Beyond these obvious uses of military force, the United States has launched drone attacks and special operations attacks against jihadist leaders and other militants. Sometimes they have been  “signature strikes” against victims whose names are not even known, and who are  executed because of a pattern of activities suggesting they are members of terrorist groups. The attacks and special forces operations are not limited to the Afghanistan and Pakistan war theater.

In Syria itself, the Bashar al-Assad regime has carried out war crimes and crimes against humanity on a massive scale, resulting in the deaths of some 220,000 to 250,000 people, the displacement of millions of Syrians, and the current scramble by millions of refugees to find a safe haven in Europe, or other countries.

One of the greatest challenges to international law has become the failure of states to report the use of force to the Security Council as required by Article 51 of the Charter, or to even acknowledge that they are the authors of state actions.

This is a spillover from the use of covert actions to achieve military objectives. Yet without acknowledgement of state behavior, much less attempts to legally justify it, international law governing the use of force cannot really deter future violations.

Perhaps the greatest casualty from these events has been a loss of awareness of the relevance and critical importance of international law and institutions in controlling the international use of force, and demanding compliance with the terms of treaties related to the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of different states or countries throughout the world.

The president of the United States, Barack Obama, has virtually eliminated the use of the term and concept of international law from his discourse, going back as far as his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech in Oslo in December, 2009.

Moreover, we should not forget that the entire edifice of international human rights is based on international law treaties and the development of customary international law norms in the human rights area.

Human rights are a creation of international law. We should not be too surprised, therefore, to find that the human rights policies of a president who holds little regard for international law have themselves been quite disappointing.

While Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, have invoked international law from time to time, they can hardly be taken seriously so long as Russia stands atop its military conquest in the Crimea, and continues its invasion of the eastern Ukraine.

With these developments, and Obama’s obvious lack of regard for international law, the risk is great that the West, including the U.S., NATO, and the EU, will try to solve the great problems it faces by reverting to the use of “great power politics”— without regard for the development of international law and institutions, and state practice, that have occurred in the last 100 years.

Using this aproach, deals could be struck with Russia to recognize the conquest and annexation of the Crimea, with the lifting or easing of sanctions, in exchange for Russian “cooperation” in solving the Syrian problem.

In this way, the Russians who are themselves complicit in the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity within Syria, might secure permanent bases and recognition of al-Assad’s continuing hold on power, at least  in a rump state in the North and along the Mediterranean where a high percentage of the Alawite population is found.

So, are we to simply give up on the concept and accumulated state practice of international law governing the use of force?

Or is there some way of dealing with the power politics dimension of international affairs without giving up on international law?

These are the questions for current leaders in the world, from Washington, Brussels and Berlin, to Taipei, Manila and Hanoi, and even Argentina.

What would the world look like without international law governing the use of force, or the protection of human rights?

These are not idle or theoretical questions. For the answers we come up with will determine the future kind of world we live in.

Nor are these new questions. They were fully considered by the Drafters of the U.N. Charter, and by generations of leaders who sought to uphold its provisions.

Moreover, not only leaders need to consider and answer these questions, but also political elites, media, and the populations of different countries.

For their continuing and incessant demand for legal justifications of state actions under international law may be the best and perhaps the only way to ensure that the gains achieved over the last 100 years will not be lost.

No one can take the international law governing the use of force for granted. Only persistent demands for legal justification can guarantee its continuing relevance and deterrent power in a world that threatens to sink increasingly into armed conflict and chaos.

In a nuclear age—and we need always to remember that we still live in one— “power politics” without international law is a formula for disaster, and for the eventual annihilation of the human race through nuclear war, or newer and even more efficient means of mass destruction.

The Trenchant Observer

Iran’s parliament approves draft law banning military inspections which, if upheld, would kill nuclear deal, but gives Khamenei final say

Sunday, June 21st, 2015


Aresu Eqbali (Tehran) and Asa Fitch (Dubai), “Iran Legislation Seeks to Bar Inspections of Military Sites Under a Nuclear Deal; U.S. and other world powers not likely to accept condition,” Wall Street Journal, June 21, 2015 (7:18 p.m. ET).

There appears to be a growing possibikity that the negotiating tactics of Iran, and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, could undermine the essential trust that will be required for any nuclear deal with Iran to be approved in the United States, gain traction, and lead to the lifting of sanctions against Iran.

Whatever games Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei is playing domestically, whatever “bazar” negotiating tactics he may be using, and however weak he thinks Barack Obama may be in the nuclear negotiations, he should know that many in the United States who were initially inclined to favor a straightforward and transparent deal with Iran, are beginning to feel that Iran and Khamenei cannot be trusted, no matter what a final paper agreement may say.

Moreover, however much Barack Obama may want a deal with Iran, he will not succeed in lifting sanctions against that country if a majority in the U.S. and in the Congress come to the conclusion Khamenei is not dealing in good faith, and that the deal is not a good deal for nuclear non-proliferation, the United States, or the Middle East.

The Trenchant Observer

A gift for Nowruz and Easter: The nuclear framework agreement with Iran

Saturday, April 4th, 2015

The United States has led the P5+1 in reaching a historic framework agreement with Iran over the future of its nuclear activities. UN and other sanctions will be lifted, in sequences yet to be determined, in return for measures and guarantees that will restrict to at least a year Iran’s so-called “breakout” capability, i.e., Iran’s ability to break its international agreements (including the 1968 Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which it is a party) and race to build a nuclear weapon.

The “framework agreement” signed on April 2, 2015 does not resolve all questions, but includes agreement on many major issues. The parties have set themselves a deadline of June 30, 2015 for reaching a final, definitive agreement.

One of the most significant aspects of the last year of negotiations has been a growing relationship by which problems can be addressed through serious discussions. Slowly, the parties are learning to trust each other while dealing effectively with critics at home and abroad.

The interim agreement builds momentum for reaching the final agreement, which if consumated would constitute President Barack Obama’s greatest foreign policy achievement since assuming office in January, 2009.

The timing of the agreement is doubly propitious.

The celebration of Nowruz or the Persian New Year takes place for 13 days following the vernal equinox, which this year was on March 21 in Iran. It is a celebration of “out with the old and in with the new”. Evil spirits are exiled from the home, new clothes are worn, and Persian families visit each other at each others’ homes throughout the period of celebration.

In the West, Easter is celebrated as a time of hope and redemption.

Both are celebrations of life and hope for the future, as Spring in the northern hemispere begins.

For Iranian reactions to the agreement, see

(1) “Iran-P5+1 agreement seeks removal of sanctions, not suspension: Rouhani, Press TV (Tehran), April 5, 2015 (1:3PM).

(2) “Iran top general hails nuclear success in talks with P5+1,” Press TV, April 5, 2015 (3:27PM).

“A senior Iranian military official has heaped praise on the country’s negotiating team for emerging successful in talks with the P5+1 group in Switzerland, expressing hope that a final agreement would be reached soon.

“In a message to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on Sunday, Iranian Armed Forces’ Chief of Staff Major General Hassan Firouzabadi said the 1979 Islamic Revolution’s progressive movement is continuing “strongly and successfully” thanks to the Leader’s guidelines.

“He congratulated Ayatollah Khamenei and the Iranian nation on the breakthrough and praised efforts by President Hassan Rouhani and Iran’s nuclear negotiating team led by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.”

(3) “Iran, P5+1 joint statement calling for removal of all anti-Iran sanctions,” Press TV, April 2, 2015 (5:38PM).

For details of the agreement and how it is being portrayed at home by both sides, see

Michael R. Gordon, “Outline of Iran Nuclear Deal Sounds Different From Each Side,” New York Times, April 4, 2015.

With this hopeful development, perhaps thbe world’s leaders can now turn their thoughts from visions of war, which have dominated their thinking in recent years, to visions of peace and how to turn them into reality.

The Trenchant Observer

Ukraine Update: Overview and signficance of the continuing Russan invasion

Thursday, March 5th, 2015



Matthew Schofield, “A year after Russia took Crimea, stronger Ukraine military braces for long fight, McClatchyDC, March 5, 2015 (updated 4:17 p.m. EDT).

“Russischer Soldat beschreibt Einsatz bei Debalzewe; Von der Grenze zur Mongolei wurde er in die Ukraine geschickt, erzählt ein russischer Soldat. Er beschreibt auch, wie Panzer umlackiert und Abzeichen abgelegt wurden. 4. März 2015 (19:34 Uhr).

CARSTEN LUTHER, ALEXANDER SCHWABE UND STEFFEN DOBBERT, “OPPOSITION IN RUSSLAND: Die wenigen, die nicht schweigen. Boris Nemzow ist tot, Putins Politik der Einschüchterung wirkt. Sieben Beispiele, die davon erzählen, wie schwer es in Russland ist, Kritik an der Regierung zu üben,” Die Zeit, 3. Marz 2015 (16:16 Uhr).

News of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine has become “old hat”, no longer “hot” news because it continues on a daily basis.

Vladimir Putin has adapted the “salami technique”, used by the Soviet Union to take first one, then another country in Eastern Europe after World War II, to the new demands of the hybrid hidden war, executed first in the Crimea and then in the eastern Ukraine.

Why follow the details of the ongoing Russian invasion of the Ukraine?

Why follow the continued faltering response of the West, led by pacifists and appeasers who have failed to respond to Russian military aggression in Europe with more than economic sanctions?

Those sanctions have always been “too little, too late”. They always seem to come long after the most serious and definite of threats to deter some move or another by Putin, which he ignores, and which have then repeatedly been forgotten–not carried out. Instead, they are recycled and converted to threats to forestall his and Russia’s next act of military aggression.

As a result, such threats are not credible.

It is almost as if Western leaders and their foreign ministers are too busy flying around to meet with each other, and with Putin, to read the newspapers and form a coherent view of what is going on, what has worked and not worked, and what needs to be done.

Just today, less than a week after the assassination in Moscow (some 100 meters from the Kremlin’s walls) of Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition figure who was an outspoken critic of Putin’s military aggression in the Ukraine—a cold-blooded execution that was almost certainly ordered by Putin or carried out with his approval—Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi flew to Moscow for a “quick visit” with Putin.

His attempt to have it both ways, by visiting the scene where Nemtsov was executed, was pathetic. What counted was that he traveled to Moscow to see Putin, sending the signal that Italy will not push for harsher sanctions against Russia for its current invasion of the Donbas. No doubt Renzi hopes for some kind of gas deal or other concession in exchange.

According to the U.S. military, Russia now has some 12,000 soldiers in the Donbas leading and fighting alongside the so-called “separatists”– which Putin called into being in April, 2014. Further, Russia has an estimated 50,000 troops threateningly poised on its border with the Ukraine, in addition to the 28,000 troops it has stationed in the Crimea.

Today, March 5, 2015, Russia continues its overflights near NATO countries flexing its military muscles, seeking as it were an incident that might provide a further “provocation”.

Yet beyond Russia and the Ukraine, there is so much more going on in the world, such as the advance of Iraqi army and militia forces, and Iranian-led forces, on Tikrit in an effort to reconquer that city from ISIS or the Islamic State group.

In Europe, the Greek crisis has slowed but not let up, leaving Greece’s participation in the Euro Zone and the possibility of a collapse of its financial system very much up in the air.

In Africa, Boko Haram continues its massacres in northern Nigeria and beyond.

In Argentina, the ex-wife of Alberto Nisman, a prosecutor who wss drafting a complaint against President Cristina Kirchner, says she has proof Nisman was murdered. He was killed by a gunshot to the head at close range the evening before he was to testify about a conspiracy with Iran not to bring to justice the authors of a 1994 bombing of a synagogue in Buenos Aires which claimed 84 lives. Nisman had no gunpowder trace on his hands.

In Washington, Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a strong speech to the U.S. Congress attacking the deal Obama and the P5+1 are negotiating with Iran to resolve the nuclear issue.

With all of this going on, why should we continue to pay close attention to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine and the response of the West?

The answer is stark and unyielding.

So long as Russia continues to defy the most fundamental norms of the United Nations Charter and international law, through its invasion of the eastern Ukraine but also through its continued military occupation of the Crimea, Russian-occupied Ukrainian territory conquered by military force, the entire international political and legal order established after World War II under the U.N. Charter (1945) is swaying under the assault of Russia, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council.

We must pay close attention to the Russian military aggression against the Ukraine, and its military threats elsewhere, because the resolution of all the other international conflicts that face the world today, including the Iranian nuclear question and the future of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, depend on upholding the U.N. Charter’s fundamental norms and the rules and mechanisms it lays out for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The threat represented by Putin’s and Russia’s policies of military aggressiom is also an existential threat to the West and the rest of the world.

Putin and Russia possess thousands of nuclear weapons and missile delivery systems which if used–and Russia has raised the possibility of nuclear war–could result in destroying the world.

Managing the risks of accidental nuclear war, or even the intentional use of nuclear weapons, outside the framework of international law and the U.N. Charter, and their definitions of legitimate state actions, is several orders of magnitude more difficult than managing these risks within that framework.

That is why we must pay close attention to Russian policies of military aggression and annexation, however familiar the headlines may become.

So long as Russia defies the postwar international legal and political order established under the U.N. Charter, no nation will be safe, as citizens throughout the world face an unacceptably high risk of nuclear war and annihilation.

The Trenchant Observer

U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 2202 (17 February 2015) —with full text, annexes and summaries of interventions by delegates

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015


“Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2202 (2015), Security Council Calls on Parties to Implement Accords Aimed at Peaceful Settlement in Eastern Ukraine,” United Nations Security Council Press Release (Doc. SC/11785), February 17, 2015.

The resolution unanimously adopted by the Security Council reads as follows:

HOME Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2202 (2015), Security Council Calls on Parties to Implement Accords Aimed at Peaceful Settlement in Eastern Ukraine
17 FEBRUARY 2015 (SC/11785)

Unanimously Adopting Resolution 2202 (2015), Security Council Calls on Parties to Implement Accords Aimed at Peaceful Settlement in Eastern Ukraine
7384th Meeting (PM)
Expressing the Security Council’s grave concern at the tragic events and violence in eastern regions of Ukraine, the 15-member body today unanimously adopted a resolution endorsing last week’s ceasefire agreement.

By resolution 2202 (2015), the Council called on all parties to fully implement the “Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”, adopted on 12 February 2015 in Minsk, Belarus. Firmly convinced that the resolution of the situation in eastern regions of Ukraine could only be achieved through a peaceful settlement to the current crisis, the Council welcomed the declaration by the Heads of State of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, France and Germany in support of the “package of measures” and their continuing commitment to implement the agreements.

The 13-paragraph “package of measures”, contained in Annex I of the resolution, called for a number of actions. Those included an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and its strict implementation as of 15 February 2015, as well as the withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides by equal distances in order to create a security zone. Measures also included the withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment and mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under the monitoring of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as the disarmament of all illegal groups.

In addition, the package called for carrying out reform in Ukraine with a new constitution entering into force by the end of 2015. That document had to provide for decentralization, as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in line with eight measures until the end of 2015.

Following the resolution’s adoption, some speakers expressed concern about ongoing intense fighting and called for an end to violence. Speakers also supported the Council’s role in urgently addressing an increasingly troubling humanitarian crisis that had seen more than 5,000 killed and 1.5 million displaced. Council members had also emphasized that perpetrators must be held accountable for the 2014 downing of the Malaysian airliner that killed 298 people.

Echoing a common view, the representative of France said it was the Council’s collective responsibility to “silence the guns”. The representative of Germany said the resolution was of utmost importance, conveying a stern message to those who violated the ceasefire.

Agreeing, the representative of Ukraine called on the Security Council’s permanent members to prevent violations. He also emphasized that the Russian Federation needed to secure its borders with his country and urge militants to honour the Agreements.

The representative of the Russian Federation said his country had continually done its utmost to ensure that open dialogue be established between the parties to the conflict. Underlining that the current package of measures presented an opportunity to “turn this tragic page in history”, he warned against unilateral measures that would contradict the spirit of the Minsk Agreements.

Also speaking were representatives of the United Kingdom, United States, Spain, Chile, Malaysia (speaking for Australia, Belgium, Canada, Indonesia, Netherlands, New Zealand and the Philippines), New Zealand, Nigeria, Lithuania, Chad, Venezuela, Jordan and China.

The meeting began at 3:07 p.m. and ended at 4:28 p.m.

VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said that the events that had taken place in Ukraine in recent months were tragic. Thousands had died and over a million civilians had left the conflict zone, many of them seeking shelter in Russian territory. The agreement of 12 February in Minsk presented a genuine opportunity to “turn this tragic page in history”, he said, warning against unilateral measures that would contradict the spirit of the Minsk agreement. The Russian Federation had continually done its utmost to ensure that open dialogue be established between the parties to the conflict, he added.

MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said that his country had voted in favour of the resolution, as it recognized the importance of backing the recent agreements unanimously in the Security Council. The parties to the conflict must commit to the recent ceasefire, and “this time, we must see commitments translated into action,” he said. To date, the ceasefire had been in place for two and a half days, and it appeared that it had been respected with the exception of a “flagrant” disregard in the Ukrainian town of Debaltseve. It was totally unacceptable that rebel leaders had made statements to the effect that the ceasefire did not apply to Debaltseve. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) must have immediate access to that town. “We call on Russia to use its influence on the separatists” to uphold the ceasefire, he said, adding that he also expected to see the withdrawal of heavy weapons by both sides within the next two weeks. The Council must play its full role to ensure that there was complete compliance with the ceasefire and to ensure the full territorial integrity of Ukraine.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States) said it was ironic that the Russian Federation had called the meeting to adopt a resolution on a conflict that it had fuelled. Amid conflicting reports about whether or not Debaltseve had fallen, the ceasefire that had been in effect since Sunday had not been respected, with many civilians enduring the terror of ongoing assaults. In addition, forces that the Russian Federation had trained and armed were still active. Her Government had, since the outset of the crisis, supported Ukraine’s sovereignty, the ending of violence and, today, the “package of measures”, which was a road map to fulfilling the Minsk Agreements made in September 2014. All parties must implement all commitments made. Too often, Council debates occurred in a vacuum that did not consider reality on the ground, she said, calling on the Russian Federation to take action to end the violence.

FRANÇOIS DELATTRE (France) said the emergency in Ukraine had called for action. Given the troubling humanitarian situation, it was the Council’s collective responsibility to “silence the guns”. The path towards peace hinged on diplomacy and resolution 2202 (2015) reflected the Council’s action in tracing that path. Sadly, fighting had continued, he said, calling for an end to violence immediately. Establishing an expanded buffer zone and removing heavy weapons over the coming two weeks were among the steps to be taken towards peace. All parties should fully and lastingly shoulder their responsibilities to move forward on the path towards peace.

ROMÁN OYARZUN MARCHESI (Spain) said he had voted in favour of resolution 2202 (2015) because the Council must urgently act. Grateful for the steps taken by France and Germany, he said it was clear that a military option would not solve the crisis. The recently released Security Council press statement had recognized that the ceasefire had not been respected. The success of the package of measures was essential for peace and stability in Ukraine, the region and the world, with the European Union and OSCE playing key roles and both acting responsibly and together to resolve the crisis.

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile) said the ceasefire would lead to an end of the crisis and that resolution 2202 (2015) contained important elements in that regard. He said the 13 points of the Minsk Agreement would benefit the people of Ukraine. With a view to ending the violence, he called on all parties to comply with the ceasefire until a solution was found to resolve the current crisis.

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), also speaking on behalf of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Indonesia, Netherlands and the Philippines, said that his country believed that the resolution just adopted conveyed the Council’s full support for the negotiated ceasefire and peace agreements. However, recent developments in eastern Ukraine proved that the situation was more urgent than ever. The conflict had gone on far too long and had claimed the lives of too many innocent people, including those on board flight MH17 which was tragically shot down over the conflict area on 17 July 2014. All States must cooperate fully with efforts to bring those responsible for that tragedy to justice. The resolution adopted today was unambiguous in that respect, he said, reiterating that international standards regarding accountability applied to all Member States. He called on the parties to the conflict to adhere to the Minsk agreements, as well as the sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence and unity of Ukraine.

JIM MCLAY (New Zealand) said that it was no secret that the Council had struggled to negotiate a mutually acceptable text for the resolution adopted today. However, that should not obscure the simple truth: the overall objective must be to see lives saved, to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and to bring an end to external support for the separatists. Ceasefires did not always hold with consistency at all times in all places, but the Council had today sent a strong signal of its support by unanimously adopting the resolution. In addition, the Council’s previous decisions on the downed aircraft, MH17, were clear. The victims of that tragedy must not be forgotten, and those responsible must be held accountable. Therefore, the amnesty offered by the resolution adopted today should not apply to those responsible for that crime. The Russian Federation, in particular, should use its “undoubted” influence on the separatists to ensure that they uphold the ceasefire.

KAYODE LARO (Nigeria) said it was important for the Council to send a message that it was imperative to find a lasting solution to the crisis in Ukraine. There would be no military solution to the conflict, he said, noting that all parties should pursue a resolution to the situation through dialogue that did not impinge the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania) said the humanitarian crisis, with more than 5,000 deaths and 1.5 million displaced persons, had been exacerbated by an influx of Russian weapons. Even while the “package of measures” was being drafted, foreign tanks had rolled into Ukraine and heavily armed criminals had continued their onslaught against Debaltseve, with threats to continue their “deadly march” up to Kharkiv and further. Ceasefires, including the most recent, had been violated, with militants waging a war with the Russian Federation’s help. Peace would have been possible without that country’s support to the militants. While the package was flawed, its elements must be respected and the Minsk Agreements must be implemented. “We know well what needs to be done,” she said, emphasizing the need for monitoring and for the Russian Federation to end its support for militants.

BANTE MANGARAL (Chad) said his country strongly supported the resolution for its contribution towards addressing the situation. He also urged all actors to implement every element of resolution 2202 (2015) to help to put an end to the crisis in Ukraine.

RAFAEL DARÍO RAMÍREZ CARREÑO (Venezuela) said his country supported the resolution as diplomatic means were the only solution to the conflict. The resolution and the Minsk Agreements needed to have full political support for their full implementation, he said, adding that he trusted that parties would commit to those efforts. In addition, a transparent international investigation must be undertaken with regard to the downing of the Malaysian Airlines passenger jet. It was not a time to spread hate but to promote peace, dialogue and diplomacy.

MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH MAHMOUD HMOUD (Jordan) said that a political settlement was the right way to help Ukraine regain its stability. The parties to the conflict should fully implement the peace agreements of September 2014 in line with the agreed time frame. It was important to note that the package of measures adopted did not in any way change the content or provisions of the Minsk agreements, which should be implemented by all countries. He also expressed concern about the non-respect of the ceasefire in Debaltseve and asked the secessionists to put an immediate end to the violence there.

LIU JIEYI, speaking in his capacity as the representative of China, welcomed the Minsk agreement reached by the leaders of the Russian Federation, Ukraine, Germany and France, which he said were integral to the peace process. That agreement should be fully observed by all parties. The Security Council, for its part, should scale up its support, in order to de-escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine. The resolution adopted today was a demonstration of support by the international community for the agreement by the four countries. “We must stay the course of a political solution”, he said, adding that any long-term solution must be balanced, and address the legitimate concerns of all parties and respect the long-standing realities of the region.

YURIY SERGEYEV (Ukraine) said his country welcomed support for recent agreements reached last week. While the Russian side had positioned itself as a devoted proponent for peace and had even suggested the resolution that had just been adopted, what happened in reality was different. Unfortunately, despite hope from all the parties over the fulfilment of all the commitments, non-compliance with the agreements had ruined the prospect for peace, he said.

Militants had violated previous arrangements, as well as the entire package of the Minsk Agreements, he said, adding that Ukrainian targets had succumbed to more than 160 shellings and weapons arriving in Ukraine after the ceasefire deadline. Meanwhile, Ukraine’s military had remained silent, respecting the agreement. The situation in Debaltseve was incredibly tense, with militants moving ahead, undermining the essence of the peace process. He called on the Security Council’s permanent members to prevent violations and emphasized that the Russian Federation needed to secure the borders and urge militants to honour the agreements.

HARALD BRAUN (Germany) said the ceasefire had been mostly holding, with the deplorable exception of Debaltseve. The continued attacks not only threatened the ceasefire, but undermined the political settlement process as agreed upon in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group and as endorsed by the Normandy Heads of State and Government at Minsk. The Council’s resolution was of utmost importance, he said, as it conveyed a stern message to those who violated the ceasefire.

Taking the floor for a second time, Mr. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) expressed his disappointment with the outcome of the debate. The adopted resolution was to have laid a solid foundation for the work of the Security Council. However, “our hopes were only partially filled”, he said, adding that some members of the Council were engaging in their usual rhetoric. He called for the appropriate implementation of the resolution just adopted. Responding to his counterpart from the United States, who had spoken of an “upside-down world”, he said he regretted that his country had been accused of triggering the crisis in Ukraine. “But is it we who toppled a president? What is it that triggered the conflict?” he asked. It had been the decision of the Kyiv authorities to launch a military operation in eastern Ukraine. They could have acted more nobly, preventing the death of their soldiers, he stated.

Recognizing the fate of the civilian population in Debaltseve, he asked why Western countries did not raise concerns about the populations of Donetsk and Lugansk. He assured Council members that the Russian Federation had tried to organize collectively for humanitarian convoys. Regrettably, Ukraine had refused to inspect their loads. Finally, addressing the two delegations who had spoken of Crimea, he said that, according to a poll, 93 per cent of the inhabitants of Crimea support reunification with the Russian Federation. Regarding the territorial integrity of Ukraine, he recalled that the Council had adopted a resolution in that regard in February 2013.

Also taking the floor for a second time, Ms. POWER (United States) welcomed the agreement, stating, “We will do everything we can to support it.” However, she asked the Russian Federation to stop the separatists and to stop sending heavy weapons across the border. “Stop pretending you do what you do not do,” she stressed, asking that country to meet its obligations.

Taking the floor again, Mr. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said his country was not pretending, and voiced hope that the agreements would be fully implemented.

Taking the floor for a second time, Mr. SERGEYEV (Ukraine) argued that what the Russian Federation called “reunification of the Crimea” was actually “an occupation, annexation following aggression.” The Russian Federation had trampled on international law and was interfering in the internal affairs of Ukraine. “We will decide ourselves how to organize our lives and interact with our people,” he insisted.

Mr. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) responded that in order to organize its affairs, Kyiv must establish a dialogue with the inhabitants of its eastern region.

Ms. MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania), taking the floor for a second time, stressed that it was not easy to work on a draft constitution “with a gun against your head”. She said she also noticed that activists in Ukraine, “criminals”, were better armed than some European armies, like that of her country. Such weapons could only come from the other side of the border. Furthermore, she noted her surprise that the Russian Federation should demand Kyiv to ask its own soldiers to surrender. How many countries would simply accept their cities being surrounded by criminals? Any country on the Council would defend its territory to the end, she said.

Mr. CHURKIN (Russian Federation) invited Council members to read the Minsk agreements, which he said discussed the reinstatement of Ukraine. He took offense that Ukrainian soldiers had fired on the frontline. Responding to his counterpart from Lithuania, he said that her country was the only State that had admitted it gave arms to Ukrainian forces.

Responding, Ms. MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania) said it was incorrect to say that her country was providing arms to Ukraine. While Lithuania had taken Ukrainian citizens for medical treatment, even if her country did provide armaments, it would be a “drop in the ocean” and would not make a difference, she said.

Also taking the floor again, Mr. SERGEYEV (Ukraine) said while leaders had met in Minsk and made very clear statements, his delegation could not agree with the interpretation just heard from the Russian Federation’s delegate. “We are not here to create Minsk III,” he said.

Mr. CHURKIN (Russian Federation), taking the floor again, said the Minsk agreement should be read, interpreted and implemented word for word.


The full text of resolution 2202 (2015) reads as follows:

“The Security Council,

“Recalling the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and reaffirming its full respect for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine,

“Expressing its grave concern at the tragic events and violence in eastern regions of Ukraine,

“Reaffirming its resolution 2166 (2014),

“Firmly convinced that the resolution of the situation in eastern regions of Ukraine can only be achieved through a peaceful settlement to the current crisis,

“1. Endorses the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”, adopted and signed in Minsk on 12 February 2015 (Annex I);

“2. Welcomes the Declaration by the President of the Russian Federation, the President of Ukraine, the President of the French Republic and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany in support of the “Package of measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements”, adopted on 12 February 2015 in Minsk (Annex II), and their continuing commitment therein to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements;

“3. Calls on all parties to fully implement the “Package of measures”, including a comprehensive ceasefire as provided for therein;

“4. Decides to remain seized of the matter.

“Annex I [to the resolution]

“Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements

Minsk, 12 February 2015

“1. Immediate and comprehensive ceasefire in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine and its strict implementation as of 15 February 2015, 12am local time.

“2. Withdrawal of all heavy weapons by both sides by equal distances in order to create a security zone of at least 50 km wide from each other for the artillery systems of caliber of 100 and more, a security zone of 70 km wide for MLRS and 140 km wide for MLRS “Tornado-S”, Uragan, Smerch and Tactical Missile Systems (Tochka, Tochka U):

-for the Ukrainian troops: from the de facto line of contact;

-for the armed formations from certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine: from the line of contact according to the Minsk Memorandum of Sept. 19th, 2014;

“The withdrawal of the heavy weapons as specified above is to start on day 2 of the ceasefire at the latest and be completed within 14 days.

“The process shall be facilitated by the OSCE and supported by the Trilateral Contact Group.

“3. Ensure effective monitoring and verification of the ceasefire regime and the withdrawal of heavy weapons by the OSCE from day 1 of the withdrawal, using all technical equipment necessary, including satellites, drones, radar equipment, etc.

“4. Launch a dialogue, on day 1 of the withdrawal, on modalities of local elections in accordance with Ukrainian legislation and the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions” as well as on the future regime of these areas based on this law.

“Adopt promptly, by no later than 30 days after the date of signing of this document a Resolution of the Parliament of Ukraine specifying the area enjoying a special regime, under the Law of Ukraine “On interim self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, based on the line of the Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014.

“5. Ensure pardon and amnesty by enacting the law prohibiting the prosecution and punishment of persons in connection with the events that took place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

“6. Ensure release and exchange of all hostages and unlawfully detained persons, based on the principle “all for all”. This process is to be finished on the day 5 after the withdrawal at the latest.

“7. Ensure safe access, delivery, storage, and distribution of humanitarian assistance to those in need, on the basis of an international mechanism.

“8. Definition of modalities of full resumption of socioeconomic ties, including social transfers such as pension payments and other payments (incomes and revenues, timely payments of all utility bills, reinstating taxation within the legal framework of Ukraine).

“To this end, Ukraine shall reinstate control of the segment of its banking system in the conflict-affected areas and possibly an international mechanism to facilitate such transfers shall be established.

“9. Reinstatement of full control of the state border by the government of Ukraine throughout the conflict area, starting on day 1 after the local elections and ending after the comprehensive political settlement (local elections in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions on the basis of the Law of Ukraine and constitutional reform) to be finalized by the end of 2015, provided that paragraph 11 has been implemented in consultation with and upon agreement by representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.

“10. Withdrawal of all foreign armed formations, military equipment, as well as mercenaries from the territory of Ukraine under monitoring of the OSCE. Disarmament of all illegal groups.

“11. Carrying out constitutional reform in Ukraine with a new constitution entering into force by the end of 2015 providing for decentralization as a key element (including a reference to the specificities of certain areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, agreed with the representatives of these areas), as well as adopting permanent legislation on the special status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in line with measures as set out in the footnote until the end of 2015. [Note]

“12. Based on the Law of Ukraine “On interim local self-government order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions”, questions related to local elections will be discussed and agreed upon with representatives of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the framework of the Trilateral Contact Group. Elections will be held in accordance with relevant OSCE standards and monitored by OSCE/ODIHR.

“13. Intensify the work of the Trilateral Contact Group including through the establishment of working groups on the implementation of relevant aspects of the Minsk agreements. They will reflect the composition of the Trilateral Contact Group.


“Such measures are, according to the Law on the special order for local self-government in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions:

-Exemption from punishment, prosecution and discrimination for persons involved in the events that have taken place in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

-Right to linguistic self-determination;

-Participation of organs of local self-government in the appointment of heads of public prosecution offices and courts in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

-Possibility for central governmental authorities to initiate agreements with organs of local self-government regarding the economic, social and cultural development of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

“-State supports the social and economic development of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

-Support by central government authorities of cross-border cooperation in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions with districts of the Russian Federation;

-Creation of the people’s police units by decision of local councils for the maintenance of public order in certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions;

-The powers of deputies of local councils and officials, elected at early elections, appointed by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine by this law, cannot be early terminated.

“Participants of the Trilateral Contact Group:

Ambassador Heidi Tagliavini

Second President of Ukraine, L. D. Kuchma

Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Ukraine, M. Yu. Zurabov

A.W. Zakharchenko

I.W. Plotnitski

“Annex II [to the resolution]

“Declaration of the President of the Russian Federation, the President of Ukraine, the President of the French Republic and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany in support of the ‘Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements’, adopted on 12 February 2015 in Minsk

“The President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, and the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Dr. Angela Merkel, reaffirm their full respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. They firmly believe that there is no alternative to an exclusively peaceful settlement. They are fully committed to undertake all possible individual and joint measures to this end.

“Against this background, leaders endorse the Package of Measures for the Implementation of the Minsk Agreements adopted and signed on February 12, 2015 by all signatories who also signed Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014 and Minsk Memorandum of September 19, 2014. Leaders will contribute to this process and will use their influence on relevant parties to facilitate the implementation of that Package of Measures.

“Germany and France will provide technical expertise for the restoration of the segment of the banking system in the conflict affected areas, possibly through the establishment of an international mechanism to facilitate social transfers.

“Leaders share the conviction that improved cooperation between the EU, Ukraine and Russia will be conducive to the crisis settlement. To this end, they endorse the continuation of trilateral talks between the EU, Ukraine and Russia on energy issues in order to achieve follow-up stages to the gas winter package.

“They also support trilateral talks between the EU, Ukraine and Russia in order to achieve practical solutions to concerns raised by Russia with regards to the implementation of the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Ukraine and the EU.

“Leaders remain committed to the vision of a joint humanitarian and economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific based upon full respect for international law and the OSCE principles.

“Leaders will remain committed to the implementation of the Minsk Agreements. To this end, they agree to establish an oversight mechanism in the Normandy format which will convene at regular intervals, in principle on the level of senior officials from the foreign ministries.”