Archive for the ‘U.S Foreign Relations’ Category

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

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Developing

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 reportedly snatches Estonian official from Estonian territory, continues blatant lies about Russian troops in Ukraine

Friday, September 5th, 2014

As the ceasefire agreed at Minsk seems to go into effect in the eastern Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin has apparently ordered the kidnapping of an Estonia security official on Estonian territory in order to remind NATO and the EU that he is still to be feared, and that the EU and the U.S. should be careful not to anger him by adopting really harsh sanctions in the next few days.

The ceasefire he has just succeeded in imposing on Petro Poroshenko as the result of unambiguous military action inside the Ukraine by Russian troops represents a big victory for Putin, giving him “facts on the ground” he can use to thwart Ukraine’s desire to join the European Union and the risk that the country might also join NATO. In the last week, Ukraine did in fact take formal steps that would open the path to its joining NATO should the Alliance udltimately accept its application.

Vladimir Putin continues to baldly lie about Russia’s military invasion of the eastern Ukraine, just as he lied about Russia’s invasion of the Crimea.

The West should not give any credence to anything he says, or trust any promises whatsoever that he might make.

Evidence that Russian troops have invaded the eastern Ukraine is incontovertible. The demands of Russian human rights organizations, reported in the article cited below, offers one more piece of telling evidence.

Julia Smirnova of Die Welt has reported facts that prove Russian troops have invaded and are fighting in the Ukraine, and have died there.

Unlike her colleagues at most Western media, who have learned to never report disputed facts but rather report only on competing versions of events, Smirnova reports the facts as they are knowable, citing evidence, and links them together to draw factual conclusions. Her reporting has been among the best and the most timely of all of the reporting on Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine, from the seizure of the Crimea in February to its ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence up until today.

See

(1) Louis Kacngsepp and Juhana Rossi (Talinn, Estonia), “Eestonia Says Officer Abducted Near Russian Border; Security Service Accuses Individuals Coming From Russia; Moscow Says Arrest Occurred in Russia, Wall Street Journal, online.wsj.com/articles/estonian-officer-abducted-near-border-with-russia-1409928475″>Septmener 5, 2014 (5:12 p.m. ET).

TALLINN, Estonia—The apparent abduction and detention of an Estonian security officer raised tensions between Estonia and Russia just two days after President Barack Obama came to the country and vowed to defend it as a NATO member.

Estonia’s Internal Security Service, known as KAPO, said its officer Eston Kohver was “illegally detained” at gunpoint early Friday while on duty in southeastern Estonia. It said his abductors had come from Russia and had jammed radio communications and used a smoke grenade in the incident.

The director general of KAPO, Arnold Sinisalu, told journalists in the Estonian capital that there were footprints coming from Russia and going back to Russia at the crime scene. He said there hadn’t been any similar incidents since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

KAPO spokesman Harrys Puusepp said Estonian and Russian border guards had written a joint account of the incident stating that the border was violated from Russia to Estonia, “not vice versa,” and that “in the course of this border violation, a citizen of the Estonian Republic went missing.”

(2) Agence-France Presse (Moscow), “Thousands of Russian soldiers sent to Ukraine, say rights groups; Moscow denies deploying regular troops, but reports suggest up to 15,000 soldiers have been sent to assist separatists since July, The Guardia, September 1, 2014 (10:41 a.m. EDT).

(3) “Julia Smirnova of Die Welt lays out proof that Russian regular troops are fighting in the eastern Ukraine,” The Trenchant Observer, August 26, 2014.

The Trenchant Observer

Western leaders, claiming there is no military solution in the Ukraine, prepare weak sanctions that will give Putin a military victory by Russian tanks (Updated September 4, 2014)

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Updated September 4, 2014

Western leaders who say there is no military solution in the Ukraine are wrong: A miltary solution is in the making, one forged by Russian artillery, tanks and soldiers who have invaded the Ukraine

See

(1) Peter Baker and Steven Erlanger, “U.S. and Europe Are Struggling With Response to a Bold Russia, September 2, 2014.

(2) Laurence Norman, “European Union Considers Modest Increase in Sanctions on Russia; EU May Widen Limits on Access to Financial Markets for Other Russian State-Owned Companies, Wall Sreet Journal, September 2, 2014 (Updated 11:59 p.m. ET).

(3) Christoph B. Schiltz (Brüssel), “Die neuen Strafmaßnahmen der EU könnten noch mehr russische Kreditinstitute treffen; Doch auch Separatistenführer aus der Ostukraine sollen mit Sanktionen belegt werden; Bis Freitag wird entschieden, Die Welt, 2. September 2014 (23:44 Uhr).

One is tempted to simply wonder why American and European leaders cannot see and understand the most obvious facts in dealing with Russia and Putin with regards to the Ukraine.

Until one remembers that big business, and its money, are lobbying European governments and the U.S. alike not to adopt any sanctions that would interfere with their businesses, joint ventures, or profits from trade relationships.

Until one remembers the arms industries and the power they have over governments, or within governments, as is the case in France with its delivery of two Mistral-class warships to Russia.

Europe speaks of imposing further sanctions on Russia for invading the Donbass region of the Ukraine, after it swallowed whole the Crimea through the use of military force.

But the sanctions under consideration represent political compromises among the pacifists and appeasers who lead major EU member states, rather than direct and effective measures whose purpose is to halt Putin’s invasions and defend the territory of the Ukraine and of Europe.

Even their proponents cannt say, with a straight face, that the sanctions they propose will even slow Putin’s military aggression.

These leaders are no different in moral or leadership qualities from Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier who, breaking their treaty commitments to Czechoslovakia, urged Edvard Beneš of Czechoslovakia to “mediate” his country’s differences over the Sudetenland with Adolph Hitler and The Third Reich.

Then they sold out the Czechs by signing the Munich Pact, on September 30-October 1, 1938, hours before a scheduled military invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The treaty commitments from the U.S. and the U.K. (and Russia) to the Ukraine contained in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in exchange for the latter giving up its nuclear weapons and signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty, were similar to the commitments of the U.K. and France to Czechoslovakia that existed in 1938.

Like Chamberlain and Daladier, NATO and EU countries, particularly Germany and France, have urged the victim of aggression to negotiate a solution to the problem with Russia and its puppet “separatists” in the Donbass.

Like Daladier and Chamberlain, they are not inclined to lift a finger militarily to help defend the Ukraine. Faced with a vastly Russian superior army, which has been inflicting grievous losses, Ukrainian President Petro Petroshenko mat see few if any alternatives to accepting Putin’s diktat in 7-point ceasefire plan, which amounts to no more than a diktat demanding Ukrainian surrender on Moscow’s terms.

America, incapacitated by a pacifist and incompetent president who cannot lead, needs Europe to play a decisive leadership role right now, rallying the countries of the West and other civilized nations to a strong defense of the Ukraine, the U.N. Charter, and the international law prohibition of the use of force.

According to reports, however, what the Europeans are considering in terms of new sanctions against Russia are laughable, and likely to spawn derision and further aggression on the part of Putin.

If these new sanctions do not include a ban on French delivery of two Mistral-class warships to Russia, they will only convince Putin that he has nothing to fear from the West, nothing at all.

Francois Hollande’s last-minute “suspension” of the delivery of the warships is no reason not to include an absolute ban on the making or performance of Any and all defense contracts, past and future, with Russia.

Otherwise, Hollande is fully capable of weaseling his way out of the present “suspension” and proceeding with actual delivery the ships. The delivery was suspended before, it should be recalled. Hollande lifted that suspension in June, when he invited Putin to visit him for dinner at the Elysee Palace after the D-Day celebrations at Normany.

Barack Obama’s words of assurance to leaders in Tallinn, Estonia will have little effect in convincing them that the U.S. is serious, if they are not at the same time accompanied by strong actions.

What are needed are sanctions that will make Putin stop in his tracks, or at least deflate the bubble of illusions in which he and Russia seem to be floating. A bucket of cold water, so to speak.

But what we have are pacifists and appeasers, who dead set to continue on the path they have followed since Russia invaded the Crimea in February, 2014.

The EU’s leaders may think there is no military solution to the conflict in the Ukraine, but they are mistaken.

For there is one such solution, that dictated by Russian tanks and troops as they proceed to carve out a land corridor linking Russia proper wirh the Crimea.

Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of a military-industrial complex which could exercise undue influence on government decisions. Added to that force we now have “big business” engaged with Russia telling the President of the United States what to do or not do on sanctions.

Similar business interests undergird the pacifism and appeasement of Europe, whose first act following the election of Francesca Mogherini as foreign policy chief is likely to be the adoption of “further stage 3″ sanctions against Russia which will be received in Moscow as a joke, and only goad Putin on to further acts of aggression.

One of her first statements after being selected was that the possibility of a military solution in the Ukraine simply did not exist. Putin no doubt appreciated the clarification.

Obama, Merkel, Holland, Cameron, all of them, will go down in history as the craven appeasers who through their inaction gave unstinting encouragement to Vladimir Putin to tear down the existing edifice of international law and institutions, which the heroic generation which emerged from World War II left as its legacy in 1945.

When you pull back and reflect a little, and think about the fact that we are seven billion humans on a fleck of earth in a remote corner of a galaxy with some 200 billion stars, in a “visible universe” of over 170 billion galaxies, you can begin to understand that there is no guarantee that the existing international order, including the U.N. Charter and the international law prohibition of the use of force, will continue to endure.

Our current leaders are the custodians of that order and of our future.

Unfortunately, they are woefully inadequate to the task.

The Trenchant Observer

The stakes in the presidential election dispute — whether Hamid Karzai will continue to call the shots in Afghanistan

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Developing

An old adage is, “Don’t change horses when you are crossing a stream.”

There is an important gloss on that adage, however. The fuller version is as follows:

“Don’t change horses when you are crossing a stream, unless your horse is drowning.”

OPINION

For background, see “Karzai reportedly involved in massive fraud favoring Ghani in Afghan presidential run-off,” The Trenchant Observer, August 23, 2014, and the articles cited there.

Sometimes we need to pull pack from a mere analysis of the events of the day, and look for significance in the broader pattern of events which form the context for today’s developments.

At the moment, a dramatic showdown is taking place in Afghanistan over who the country’s next leader will be.

Hamid Karzai and his government are reliably reported as having been deeply involved in a massive electoral fraud favoring Ashraf Ghani, whose vote total in the June 14 presidential run-off election, was inflated by as much as two million votes (out of a reported eight million votes cast).

Following the 2009 presidential elections, Karzai retained his hold on the presidency through massive fraud which he himself reportedly orchestrated.

It seems quite evident that Karzai intends to continue making the big decisions for the government even after leaving office, with Ashraf Ghani emerging as president from the current second round elections.

Karzai has built a new mansion right next to the Presidential Palace to help ensure he is involved in critical decisions.

If Ghani emerges as president, Karzai and the “Kabul Cabal” which for the last 12 years has been running Afghanistan, a country famously labeled “Corrupt-stan” by long-time war correspondent Dexter Filkins, will continue in power.

Karzai will continue to exercise his influence behind the scenes, as the brilliant master of warlord and tribal and other alliances he has been up until now.

Looking at Afghanistan’s recent history since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, it is clear that the United States—intentionally or unintentionally—has enabled the “Kabul Cabal” to grow and thrive.

For example, the CIA has been an active supporter of Karzai over the years, with many high-level officials on the Company’s payroll, and bags of cash with millions of dollars being delivered directly to the Presidential Palace for Karzai’s unrestricted use.

If Abdullah emerges as the victor, there will be a changing of the guard, a handover of power from the “Kabul Cabal” to something new, potentially marking a milepost on the path to a return to the democratic project in Afghanistan.

In 2009, the U.S. pressured Abdullah into withdrawing from the second round election that was to occur, following a “recount” of the votes in the first round which reduced Karzai’s share to less than 50%. At the time there were negotiations over some kind of a power-sharing arrangement similar to that under discussion now.

In the end, the U.S. withdrew its support for the negotiations.

An interesting report at time by a reporter with close ties to Pakistan’s army and intelligence services, Syed Saleem Shahzad, asserted that support for Abdullah was withdrawn as part of a U.S. deal reached by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Islamabad with Pakistani military leaders, under which the U.S. would withdraw its support for Abdullah and the negotiations in exchange for Pakistani assistance in setting up and carrying out peace negotiations with the Taliban.

The reporter was subsequently assassinated in an operation that was reportedly orchestrated by Pakistani military and intelligence officials.

Pakistan has traditionally opposed Abdullah and the Northern Alliance which he once helped lead, because of india’s ties with and support for the Alliance.

While all of this is very complicated, and requires some historical memory or research to fully understand, the drama undeway at the moment is fairly clearcut:

If the current “audit” of the second-round vote is allowed to proceed to completion, it is quite likely that Abdullah will emerge as the winner and have an irresistible claim on the presidency.

Karzai is now pushing hard to cut short that process, and to inaugurate a new president within a week or two. That president could only be selected as a result of the current negotiating process.

A pretext for a quick inauguration of the new president is that it would enable him to go to the NATO Summit which is to be held in Wales on September 4-5, in order to secure continued NATO assistance going forward after December 31, 2014.

However, prospects for stability in Afganistan will turn much more on the perceived legitimacy and nature of the new government than on whether a new president can go to Wales in early September.

For any new government to be able to withstand the challenge from the Taliban after most U.S. and ISAF Forces have been withdrawn, and foreign economic assistance greatly reduced, it will need to have legitimacy and be viewed by the Afghan people as the true product of the elections held on June 14.

It is highly doubtful that without large-scale military and financial support, the “Kabul Cabal” can continue to hold the country together and resist the advances of the Taliban, unless Ghani emerges as the true winner of the run-off after all of the votes in the “audit” have been fully accounted for.

At the same time, it is hard to see the “Kabul Cabal” ceding power in the absence of a mighty push from the U.S. and NATO requiring the real results of the second-round presidential election to be observed.

The composition of the next government in Afghanistan will have a decisive impact on whether or not the country can be held together, and whether or not the Taliban can be denied the victories for which they have been waiting and preparing.

NATO can agree to provide further aid to Afghanistan after the Wales summit in early September. Conference deadlines should not be allowed to drive policy on Afghanistan.

U.S. President Barack Obama needs to get it right this time, even if it means overriding the recommendations of CIA Director John Brennan.

This is likely to be Obama’s — and America’s — last chance to save the Afghan project.

The Trenchant Observer

REPRISE — Putin’s wager: Russia’s rogue authoritarianism versus fundamental human rights and the existing international political and legal order

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Russia and the Ukraine—The Big Picture

Originally published April 24, 2014

In a fatal error, Putin challenges the modern postwar international political and legal order

It is historically ironic, and from Vladimir Putin’s point of view perhaps tragic, that Russia’s crowning achievement at the Sochi Winter Games culminated precisely when the Yanukovych government in the Ukraine began to stumble and fall. On the other hand, Putin had only himself to blame.

Since then, Vladimir Putin has overreached, and made the fatal mistake of undertaking actions that put Russia permanently at odds with the world’s international political, legal and economic order.

While formally created during and at the end of World War II (1939-1945), the system has roots that go back to Hugo Grotius and the Thirty Years’ War of 1618-1648. The idea for the United Nations can be traced back to the Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907, and the Covenant of the League of Nations and the founding of the League in 1919.

Since the founding of the United Nations in 1945, the system of international law established within the framework of the United Nations Charter, including its bedrock principle prohibiting the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, has become the very fabric of international society, constituting principles that have been repeatedly accepted in countless treaties and agreements as binding norms of international law by virtually every country.

Now along comes Russia’s new Dictator to suppress within Russia fundamental human rights such as freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the right to a fair trial; to challenge the entire structure of the existing international political and legal order by invading the Ukraine, seizing the Crimea by military force and annexing it to Russia; and now threatening to invade the eastern Ukraine if the government of that country responds to Russia’s initial invasion by special forces and seizure of government buildings by force with its own necessary and legal use of force to reassert its control over its own government offices and territory.

Putin wants Russia to be able to invade the eastern Ukraine with special forces, and then to be able to decry any attempt by the Ukrainian government to restore public order as “crimes” against the Ukrainian constitution. He does so without mentioning his own crimes against the Russian constitution by suppressing civil liberties, or his own use of brutal force in putting down the rebellion in Chechnya–which included the commission of war crimes on a very large scale.

Putin and his lieutenant, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, accuse the Ukraine and the West of violating international law, as they sit on the spoils of Russian aggression in the Crimea, and openly threaten military intervention in the Eastern Ukraine if that country’s government moves with force to restore public order and the ordinary functioning of government institutions.

Like the case of Northern Cyprus, invaded by Turkey in 1967, or East Timor which was invaded and annexed by Indonesia in 1975, Russian invasion and annexation of the Crimea will never be accepted by other nations.

Nor will any further conquests in the eastern Ukraine, or of independent countries which formerly made up the Soviet Union, ever be recognized.

An invasion of the eastern Ukraine will indeed produce results, just not those Putin in his demented shortsightedness seeks to secure.

An immediate result will be stiffer sanctions from the U.S. and the EU, which moreover are likely to grow in intensity over time.

An invasion is highly likely to produce permanent enmity toward Russia in the Ukraine, and to strengthen the desire of Ukrainians, East and West, to join the European Union and, if necessary to protect their independence in the future, to join NATO as well (whatever time may be required to achieve this result).

An invasion is also likely to produce energetic responses from NATO aimed at Russia, if not immediately then at least over the intermediate term. To counter potential Russian aggression, large forces of American and other NATO-country troops are likely to eventually be moved from Germany to forward bases in Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The current drawdown of American forces from Europe, in time, could be reversed.

Europe will probably also undertake vigorous policies to reduce its consumption of Russian gas and oil, though this may take a few years.

Putin’s wager is that his domestic repression and suppression of freedom of the press, free elections, the right to a fair trial and other fundamental human rights will be a model others will want to emulate, or at least be willing to ignore.

His wager that wars of aggression involving military invasions and the annexation of conquered territories will not matter to other countries, which will be happy to look the other way and continue doing business with Russia, is not likely to be successful in the middle or long term.

To be sure, the slowness with which democracies respond to military challenges may appear to be acqiescence or appeasement in the short term, but in the intermediate to longer term the combined economic and military strength of the U.S., NATO, Japan and their allies will be able to contain Russian military expansionism while depriving Russia of vital opportunities to join the first ranks of nations in a wired and interconnected world.

Finally, Putin’s wager overlooks the vital forces within Russia itself, symbolized by courageous dissidents such as Andrei Sakharov, or even Communist party leaders like Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin. These forces have visions of Russia that are deeply at odds with Putin’s embodiment of autocratic dictatorship at home, and wars of aggression abroad.

Putin’s wager may in fact hasten the day when his greatest fears are realized, the day the Maidan comes to Red Square.

The Trenchant Observer

If you accept the May 25 elections, Mr. Putin, then order a “full-stop” to aggression in the eastern Ukraine

Friday, May 23rd, 2014

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who sent special operations forces into eastern Ukraine to spark and coordinate “separatist” rebellions by the use of force, continues to play his duplicitous and treacherous “double game” in the Ukraine.

If he hoped to retain a shred of credibility in saying he would respect the results of the May 25, 2014 national elections in the Ukraine, he would have had to call a “FULL STOP” to further violence by pro-Russian forces.

Instead, the subversive forces which he launched into action under the leadership and coordination of Russian special operations forces (including so-called “little green men”) continue to seize control of government buildings by the use of force, in a region they seek to turn into a pro-Russian dictatorship which holds sway by fear, intimidation, assassinations, and the public display and use of armed force.

Far from acting as if Russia will respect the results of the Ukrainian elections, these Russian special operations forces and intelligence operatives, whose true identities have been unmasked, are engaged in violent suppression of the exercise of fundamental human rights, including the right to freedom of the press, the right to physical integrity and to be free from the arbitrary use of force, and the right to participate in government and to vote in free and fair elections, particularly in the Donetsk and Luhansk areas.

Because the taking of a human life constitutes murder when it occurs outside the framework of domestic and international law, these Russians and Russian agents are, in clear moral and legal terms, committing murder against the Ukrainian security forces (and others) who are legitimately seeking to restore public order in the eastern Ukraine.

While Putin was announcing he would “respect” the results of the May 25 elections, Russian agents were murdering innocent Ukrainian soldiers, including in one ambush where some 17 were killed.

Now Putin strides on the world stage to claim that the invasion and annexation of the Crimea were justified under international law, and that he has no interest in further irredentist actions.

His response is due to the firmness of the West in threatening further, “Stage Three” sanctions, the enhanced deployment of NATO capabilities along the borders of NATO countries which border Russia, and the likelihood of NATO now stationing combat forces in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and Romania. He may also be responding to pressures from China, which certainly does not want to see any secessionist movements succeed which might inspire Uighur or Tibetan separatists.

Putin has a losing hand, and seems to be slowly recognizing that reality. Perhaps he thinks the West and the civilized nations of the world will quickly forget about his invasion and annexation of the Crimea.

That is not a good long-term bet, as the bedrock principles of the U.N. Charter prohibiting the use of force and annexation of conquered territories may be tenaciously held and defended over the longer term. One need only think of Cyprus or East Timor to grasp the point.

In view of the above, it is now a time for vigilance against potential actions by a treacherous Russian leader, whose mendacity is evident in every statement he makes, including those intended to give a conciliatory impression in the West.

If you are going to respect the May 25 election results in the Ukraine, Mr. Putin, begin respecting the election now by calling off your special operations forces and intelligence operatives and their agents in the eastern Ukraine.

ORDER THEM TO DESIST FROM FURTHER VIOLENCE, SEIZURE OF GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS, AND ACTIONS TO DISRUPT THE HOLDING OF THE ELECTIONS ON SUNDAY.

ORDER A FULL-STOP, MR. PUTIN. NOW.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Observateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

The West at a crossroads in the Ukraine: “Rechtstaat” or “Machtpolitik”?

Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Barack Obama, Angela Merkel, and other leaders from the West seem lost in the flow of events in the Ukraine, responding only to immediate pressures. Even when they react, they appear to do so only in a manner marked by pacifism and what can only appear to Moscow (and not only Moscow) as a deep-rooted fear of confrontation with Russia, either through countervailing force or the threat thereof, or through  broad economic sanctions that might actually dissuade Vladimir Putin from his current course.

Like the French and the English following the signature by Eduourd Daladier and Neville Chamberlain of the Munich Pact on September 30, 1938, ceding the Sudetenland to Germany in the face of a planned German invasion the next day, against all evidence the current leaders of the West continue to harbor the illusion that a little bit of aggression and a little bit of annexation will not deflect the current course of history and the enjoyment of “peace in our time”.

The deepest illusion they harbor is the belief that Russia will soon become like a Western European state, and not revert to the ruthless totalitarian state from which it emerged only in 1991, following the liberalizing reforms of Mikhail Gorbacev after 1985.

Such a development does not seem likely, at least not in the foreseeable future in which the leadership of Russia is likely to be controlled by Vladimir Putin and his entourage.

The issue does raise an important further question, however:

How are the policies adopted by the West likely to affect the interplay of domestic political forces in Russia that will determine the kinds of leaders and political forms that will emerge after Putin has left the scene?

A strong argument can be made that if the West seeks to foster the development of democratic forces in Russia which might assume power after Putin, it should respond to Putin’s aggression against the Ukraine in a principled manner, built on commitment to the rule of law. This commitment would need to apply both internationally, through insistance on compliance with basic norms of international law, and domestically, within both Russia and the Ukraine, by insisting on the observance and protection of the fundamental human rights of all individuals in each country.

Such an approach makes sense, because reformers in Russia–and every other country in the world–will take careful note of the values that the EU, the U.S., and other countries actually promote and defend through their actions, and not merely their words.

Robust Western defense of the rule of law will provide them with hope and implicit encouragement. Appeasement and disregard for the protection of the human rights of all Ukrainans would be likely to have the opposite effect.

The larger issue, which seems to escape the short-term calculus of the current leaders of the West, is whether they and their populations are willing to fight for, and make sacrifices for, the rule of law.

Are they willing to make sacrifices and impose sanctions which will also affect their own economies, in order to uphold the rule of law on the international level, to fulfill the purposes and goals of the founders of the United Nations, “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”?

Secondly, are they willing to make the sacrifices that may be necessary to uphold and protect fundamental human rights, secured by treaties, the U.N. Charter, and customary international law?

Will they stand up for the protection of the fundamental human rights of all individuals in the eastern Ukraine?

The constitutions of EU member states are founded on the rule of law and the protection of human rights, as is the U.S. constitution and the whole edifice of the European Union, the Council of Europe, and NATO.

At bottom, the critical question in the Ukranian crisis is whether Europe, the U.S., and other civilized countries are still willing to make serious sacrifices in order to uphold the rule of law, or whether appeasement and acceptance of some aggression, some annexation, and acquiescence in widespread violation of fundamental human rights in the eastern Ukraine is the preferred course.

The stark choice, as it was put in Germany in the late 1920’s, is between a world built on the concept of the “Rechtstaat” (democratic state governed by law) or “Machtpolitik”(the politics of military power).

Rechtstaat oder Machtpolitik? Oder?
(Rule of law state or the politics of power? Or????)

The Trenchant Observer

Ukraine: Latest developments on the ground (May 5)

Monday, May 5th, 2014

David Blair (Slavyansk) “Ukraine crisis: Eight killed in bitter battle in Slavyansk,” The Telegraph, May 5, 2014 (7:36 PM BST).

Ukraine: Latest news and opinion (May 4)

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

For an insightful account of how different people are thinking in the eastern Ukraine, based on two reorters’ travels in the regionover the last week, see:

Jörg Eigendorf und Julia Smirnova, “Bürgerkrieg: Im Osten der Ukraine herrscht der blanke Hass,” Die Welt, 4. mai 2014 (20:13 Uhr).

Eine Woche waren “Welt”-Reporter zwischen Dnipropetrowsk und der Grenze zu Russland unterwegs. Und erlebten, wie die Menschen immer radikaler werden. Tagebuch über ein Land auf dem Weg in den Krieg.

Details of clash at pro-Russian checkpoint near Sloviansk

Monday, April 21st, 2014

For an extraordinary account, citing eyewitnesses, of the clash at a pro-Russian checkpoint near Sloviansk in the eastern Ukraine on April 20, Sunday, see:

Julia Smirnova (Slawjansk), “Die russische Invasion hat längst begonnen,” Die Welt, 21. April 2014.

In der gefährlichsten Stadt der Ukraine herrscht seit Tagen Angst. Vieles spricht dafür, dass Militärs und Geheimdienstmitarbeiter Slawjansk in der Ostukraine zum russischen Brückenkopf ausbauen.

This and other sources suggest that whatever the origins of the shoot-out, it seems highly unlikely that it was an attack launched by Rightest Sector operatives, as alleged in the Russian media.

The Trenchant Observer