Archive for the ‘U.S. Military’ Category

Putin’s response to new sanctions: (1) New invasion of Donbas with white truck convoy, entering without authorization or inspection; and (2) Renewed fighting (artillery and rockets) in Donetsk

Saturday, September 13th, 2014

Putin Escalates Crisis in Response to New Sanctions

Russian President Vladimir Putin has reacted true to form, in response to the entry into force of the new EU and U.S. Sanctions against Russia on Friday, September 12, by sending a second white-truck convoy across the border and into the Dunbas region of the Ukraine without the latter’s authorization, any inspection, or any agreement with the OSCE or the International Red Cross of any kind.

This action, which began on Saturday, constitutes yet another flagrant violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and the prohibition of the threat or use of force contained in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter and international law.

An emergency session of the U.N. Security Council should be called, where the details of this latest act of aggression are laid out, and Putin’s claims no Russian soldiers have entered the Ukraine are irrebutably refuted with detailed factual evidence.

The strong light of publicity is needed to defeat Putin’s strategy of progressive desensitization, so that Russia can violate Ukraine’s border at will, and in the end no one takes it very seriously because it has already happened so many times.

Lest the Russians think they are being cute on the “threat or use of force” aspect, all observers will note that they secured access to the territory of the Ukraine first by an irregular “stealth invasion” which took down the border posts and command centers, followed by a direct invasion of the Ukraine by regular Russian troops. These, despite President Petro Porosheno’s declaration that 70% of the troops had been withdrawn, according to NATO’s latest statements, remain in the eastern Ukraine.

These latest actions by Russia are consistent with Putin’s modus operandi vis-vis the Ukraine, according to which he responds to each countermove by the West to his military aggression with an escalation on the ground.

He is a judo master, and quite adroit at drawing his opponent (here, the West) to make a lunge in response to a feint, while simultaneously attacking him from an entirely different direction.

For example, in August he used the much-touted and much-delayed white truck convoy of “humanitarian aid” to capture the West’s full attention, while sending thousands of soldiers, tanks, artillery and other equipment into the Donbass across open fields in the middle of the night.

At the same time, he has demonstrated how fragile the Minsk ceasefire is and how it could collapse at his command, by resuming the fighting in Donetsk, firing artillery, rockets and other weapons in a concerted attack on the Donetsk airport, which remains in Ukrainian hands.

See

(1) Martin Williams and agencies, “Ukraine fights off attack on Donetsk airport by pro-Russia forces; Russian rocket launchers seen moving through eastern city as Ukraine’s PM says his country is in ‘stage of war’ with Russia,” the Guardian, September 13, 2014 (12:52 EDT).

On Saturday, Russia sent a convoy across the border, but Ukraine’s top leaders have remained largely silent, underscoring how dramatically the mood has shifted in the Kiev government since a ceasefire deal was struck.

Russian reports claimed the convoy was loaded with humanitarian aid, but the border crossing did not have the approval of Kiev or oversight of the international Red Cross. A similar convoy in August was loudly condemned by Ukrainian officials as an invasion, but this time around Lysenko simply called the move “illegal.”

He said: “Ukraine border guards and customs were not allowed to examine the cargo and vehicles. Representatives of the Red Cross don’t accompany the cargo, nobody knows what’s inside.”

(2) Gareth Jones and Anton Sverev, “Ukraine PM slams Putin, ceasefire again under strain in east Ukraine,” Reuters, September 13, 2014 (2:35pm EDT).

On Saturday afternoon, a Reuters reporter heard heavy artillery fire in northern districts of Donetsk, the largest city of the region with a pre-war population of about one million. He saw plumes of black smoke above the airport, which is in government hands. The city is controlled by the rebels.

New EU and U.S. Sanctions against Russia enter into force

Fortunately, the EU published its new sanctions against Russia in the Journal Officiel on Friday, September 12, at which time they went into effect. The United also announced on Friday that it was imposing parallel new sanctions om Russia.

Now, added to the NATO’s decisions on September 4-5 to establish a 5,000 man quick reaction force for deployment to member states in the East if necessary, and to reaffirm of the obligation of each member to spend each year at lesst 2% of GDP (a target to be reached, for now, within 10 years), the West has finally turned aside the strongist pacifists and appeasers within Europe and taken real, hard measures which ought to make the Russians reassess their policies of military aggression.

What should the West do now?

Because it is quite possible that Vladimir Putin will continue his efforts to destabilize the Ukraine, and even potentionally to seek to create a land corridor linking Russia to the Crimea, the West should prepare an even stronger round of further sanctions to be used if Putin resumes his military invasion of the eastern Ukraine, whether by the direct use of regular Russian forces as in August up until now, or in his “stealth” mode by continuing the introduction of weapons and irregular fighters across the border to further assist the so-called “separatists”.

These, with a signal from Moscow, could reject any reasonable compromises on the issue of the status of the territories under their control, leading to a breakdown of the ceasefire and a resumption of the fighting.

Today, according to the news reports cited above, the Donetsk airport, which is still held by Kiev forces, was subjected to intense attack by the separatists. This should serve as a reminder of how quickly the Minsk peace process could come undone.

In the current situation, the EU, NATO, and the U.S. should remain at a high level of alert, and take actions such as the following:

1. Ensure that the new white truck “humanitarian aid” convoy which began entering the Ukraine yesterday does so only with the express authorization of the Ukraine, after prior inspection of all the trucks entering the country.  Any violations  should be immediately reported to the U.N. Security Council.  While Russia can veto any resolution, Council meetings also provide a forum for the concentration of the world’s attention, a place to make detailed factual and legal statements about Russia’s ongoing violations of fundamental norms of the U.N. Charter, and a place where Russia must either admit the charges by its silence or set forth its transparently specious arguments for all to see.

“Stealth warfare” must be carried out in the shadows.  The bright glare of publicity at Security Council meetings helps to force untenable and facetious arguments to shrivel in the bright glare of daylight.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Powell chairs the Security Council during the month of September.  She and the U.S. should use the Council effectively during these critical days, when either the Minsk Protocol ceasefire and peace process will take hold, or collapse as fighting resumes.

The members of the Council should consider tabling a resolution endorsing the Minsk Protocol, calling for a withdrawal of all foreign fighters, and respect for the sovereignty, political independence, and territorial integrity of the Ukraine.  They should then put it to a vote, and whatever the outcome remain seized of the sutuation in the Ukraine.

2. Inspection by Ukraine and OSCE  and IRC of all the white trucks before they cross back over the border into Russia, to ensure that the convoy is not being used to remove Ukrainian or Russian military equipment, arms or ammunition, Ukrainian industrial equipment, or the bodies of dead Russian doldiers.

In short, the “humanitarian aid” convoy must be limited to humanitarian purposes. While removal of bodies might serve such purposes, it should be done only after inspection of the departing trucks and with the authorization of the Ukrainian authorities.

In a word, Ukrainian control of its border with Russia should be two-way, both entering and leaving.

3. The EU, the U.S., and the U.N. should immediately start sending large supplies of humanitarian aid into the Donbas. This operation should be conducted on an emergency and urgent basis, as if dealing with a natural catastrophe.

There is no valid reason for allowing Russia to score a huge propaganda victory by portraying itself as the only country doing anything to provide humanitarian assistance to the population of the Donbas.

This humanitarian aid should be widely publicized as coming from the EU, the U.S., the U.N., and other countries.

4. NATO and other countries should immediately begin providing the Ukraine with military aid and assistance which they can use to defend themselves against further Russian military aggression.

The aid should include lethal weapons. There should be no distinction between “lethal” and “non-lethal” assistance.

This distinction was made in supplying weapons to the rebels in Syria, in the absence of the U.S. and its allies setting forth a justification under international law for such action. Such a justification might have been advanced by the Obama administration, in order to halt the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity, but was not.

In the Ukraine, military assistance can be provided in response to the calls Kiev has made for military assistance in exercise of the “inherent right” of collective sef-defence, as set forth in Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, in order to repel an “armed attack”.

Armed attacks against the Ukraine have occurred, both through regular Russian forces and through irregular Russian fighters, arms and equipment. These attacks continue, a fact made particularly clear by Russia’s purported “annexation” of the Crimea.

5. Western governments should publicize the widespread violation of human rights and commission of war crimes that have occurred in the territories under the control of the so-called “separatists”. Russia, in particular, should be pressured and held accountable on this point, whether in the U.N. Human Rights Council, the Security Council, or elsewhere.

It goes without saying that the commission of any war crimes on the Ukrainian side must be immediately halted, and those responsible for their commission held accountable.

7. Consideration of a further round of even harsher economic sanctions should begin, as suggested above. These might include a ban on any doing business with Russian companies above a certain size, and a complete ban on Russia using the SWIFT system in banking for the transfer of international payments.

Implementation of these steps should begin immediately.

The West needs to maintain constant vigilance against any agressive move by Putin and Russia, and be prepared to take countermasures quickly when so required.

Having adopted an avowed policy of military aggression, and with thousands of nuclear weapons at his command, Putin may be the most dangerous man on the planet.

While countering IS is important, it is not, in a military sense (as opposed to a political sense), an immediate threat. Putin and the Ukraine are.

President Obama and European leaders must get their priorities right, and maintain constant vigilance in the face of Russia which is, and will remain as long as Putin or someone like him remains in charge, an existential threat.

Like the threat posed by Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich, it is a direct, frontal challege through military aggression, which cannot be defused through policies of pacifism and appeasement.

The Trenchant Observer

Putin wins again? UE sanctions decision of September 5 appears to fall apart; Future of Minsk Protocol peace process in doubt

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Draft

See Editorial, “Making Mr. Putin feel the heat of sanctions,” Washington Post, September 9, 2014 (8:07 p.m. ET).

The Achievement Represented by the Signing of the Minsk Protocol on September 5, 2014

For the text of the agreement and relevant analysis, see

“Full text of Minsk Protocol on Ceasefire in Ukraine (August 5, 2014),” The Trenchant Observer, September 7, 2014 (Official Russian text and informal English translation).

“Inside Putin’s Brain: Musings on the Ukraine and what is going on inside his head — Part III,” The Trenchant Observer, September 9, 2014. (“The Principle of “I make believe, you make believe”, the EU’s New Sanctions, and the Minsk Protocol”)

“Finland blocks entry into force of EU sanctions, gravely threatening prospects for peace in Ukraine,” The Trenchant Observer, September 8, 2014.

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

The Minsk Protocol of September 5, 2014 represents a significant achievement and an important milestone on the road toward reestablishing peace and order in the eastern Ukraine.

We should understand, however, that it was accomplished only as the result of the U.S. NATO, and the EU making really hard decisions to confront Vladimir Putin with the enormous powers at their command — both military and economic — and the unity of the West which stood behind them.

It is absolutely clear that Putin has now become a dedicated enemy of Europe, NATO, and the existing international legal and political order. Like the USSR during the first Cold War years, which needed to be watched and countered every minute of every day as it moved to take over Eastern Europe, Putin’s Russia must be watched and countered now.

Only the Truman Doctrine and the vigorous defense of Greece through economic assistance kept that country from falling under Stalin’s power and control.

Some may also recall or have studied the history of the Soviet Union’s attempt to strangle Berlin through the Berlin Blockade (June 24, 1948 to May 12, 1949), which was only forestalled by the decisive actions of the U.S. in conducting of the Berlin Airlift during this period.

Putin and Russia are, like Stalin and the Soviet Union of that era, highly organized, highly aggressive, and ready to pounce like a leopard on any opening or target of opportunity the West may give them.

This situation is not the dream we had in the first years after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, or during the period of progress that was made in the next 10 or 15 years. However, the invasion of Georgia in 2008 signaled the beginning of a new era. With Vladimir Putin’s reelection to the Presidency in 2012, and the repression of civil society and the opposition which soon ensued, democracy was crushed at home as preparations were made for aggression abroad.

The dream may in the future be revived.  But this can only occur if the xenophobic nationalism Putin has fanned and Russia’s policies of aggression are snuffed out, and their consequences unwound.

Now the West faces the the very different and very dangerous Russia of Vladimir Putin, which invaded the Crimea in February and “annexed” it in March, only then to turn to the eastern Ukraine in an escalating series of acts of invasion, culminating with the sending of thousands of Russian soldiers and their equipment into the Donbass region in August.

That is the situation we now face.

The history of events since February shows that threats of future actions and specifically threats of the adoption of harsher economic sanctions have had little or no effect on Putin’s behavior. Repeatedly, these threats have not been carried out, and have now lost whatever persuasive force they might once have had.

Now, finally, in response to strong pressures and the adoption of new and harsh sanctions against Russia on September 5, with parallel American sanctions to follow, Putin made very significant concessions behind the scenes as leaders of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic reached agreement with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at Minsk on September 5, signing a Protocol of 12 points for the establishment of a ceasefire and the taking of steps that might lead toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the region.

The key point is that the agreement in Minsk was reached as the result of actions that were taken, not threats of future actions.

That is the strongest lesson learned from dealing with Putin over the last six months vis-à-vis the Ukraine. Putin responds to countervailing actions, but not to threats of uncertain future actions, such as sanctions.

If the EU proceeds to implement the new sanctions agreed on September 5, and it should do so immediately, the EU, the U.S. and NATO will have continuing leverage over Putin to ensure he complies with the Minsk Protocol, not only with respect to a ceasefire, but also with respect to the agreement’s other provisions, which call for a withdrawal of “the illegal armed groups, military equipment, as well as fighters and mercenaries” from Ukraine. While Russian troops are not specifically named, it should not be too difficult to insist on their withdrawal–regardless of whether Mr. Putin admits they are there.

The Minsk Protocol provides a path for Ukrainians who became caught up in the insurrection launched by Putin and his intelligence and irregular forces to put down their arms, benefit from an amnesty, and to start getting on with their lives, in a region where their Russian language and cultural rights are fully protected. Prisoners will be exchanged.

Putin’s “stealth invasion” forced many good, innocent people to choose sides under extraordinary circumstances. With the benefit of the amnesty provided for in the Minsk Protocol, they should now be allowed to resume their previous lives, and in all probability many will choose to do so.

If implemented, the provisions of the Minsk Protocol hold out the possibility of a return to peace and a settlement of the conflict.

For that to happen, the West must use its economic power by imposing the new sanctions now. It can then slowly relax them, as significant steps are actually carried out on the ground. The most important of all of these, of course, will be the withdrawal of all the irregular and regular forces and equipment Russia sent into the Donbass as part of its invasion.

Only such an approach will have a chance of deterring Putin from undermining the deal, and resuming his military pressure on the Ukraine.

Moreover, only such an approach holds any hope for an eventual negotiated roll-back of the Russian invasion and “annexation” of the Crimea. A negotiated resolution here is conceivable. Without such an eventual settlement, long-term peace and stability in the Ukraine will be tenuous.

A settlement would require compensation to the Ukraine for war damages and expropriation of state property and assets. This could conceivably take the form of long-term gas supply and price concessions.

A second component of any final settlement would revolve around a plebiscite or referendum on independence. The Crimea could be put under international administration under OSCE auspices for a period of 2-5 years, for example, culminating in an internationally supervised plebiscite on independence and/or joining Russia. By this means, the international political and legal order might be restored to its integrity.

For any of this to happen, the West would have to deal from a position of strength. This would require immediate implementation of the EU sanctions decision of September 5, 2014.

As the EU showed weakness yesterday and today, reports emerged of statements by the separatists that if they did not achieve the independent status which they seek in negotiations scheduled in Minsk within a week, they would consider the entire Protocol void, including the ceasefire. That is a clue as to what is likely to happen if the West waffles, instead of standing firm and imposing the new sanctions.

In dealing with Vladimir Putin, an individual who has launched two military invasions of the Ukraine since February, filled Russia and the world with blatant lies and distortions, and broken every promise he has made regarding the Ukraine, the EU, the U.S. and NATO would be well advised to proceed from strength.

They should jettison their fear of Putin, feel and appreciate their own collective military and economic might, and take tough actions against Russia by implementing the new sanctions immediately.

Then, though the path may be winding and uncertain, the Ukraine may have a chance of achieving peace, not through capitulation but rather as a free and independent country.

The Trenchant Observer

Inside Putin’s Brain—Part III: The Principle of “I make believe, you make believe”, the EU’s New Sanctions, and the Minsk Protocol — with Putin’s (imagined) annotations on full text (in English)

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

In warfare, as in diplomacy, it is important to try to put yourself in the shoes of your adversary, to try to understand what is going on inside his head (or her head).

Vladimir Putin, through his actions and rejection of the postwar legal and political order, has become the adversary of the West, just as Russia has become the enemy of all civilized countries which seek to uphold the United Nations Charter and its foundational principles prohibiting the threat or use of force across international frontiers.

Following are musings by the Observer on what may be going through Putin’s mind right now.

*****

Article Series


Inside Putin’s Brain: Musings on the Ukraine and what is going on inside his head

See Part I here (September 2, 2014).

See Part II here (September 3, 2014).

*****

Part III: The Principle of “I make believe, you make believe”, the EU’s New Sanctions, and the Minsk Protocol

I remember what we learned in dealing with the West on Syria, and think of how we are applying now what we learned then in the Ukraine.

Syria

I thought back in 2012 that (Foreign Minister) Sergey Lavrov was kidding when he explained to me how Kofi Annan’s Six-Point Peace Plan for Syria could be used to keep the West off balance indefinitely, dissuade them from offering any real military support to the “rebels”, and end up solidifying Bashar Al-Assad’s hold on power.

The principle is as brilliant as it is simple.

It’s the “I make believe, you make believe” principle.

Obama and the wimps in the European Union never wanted to provide any military support to the rebels in Syria, but they were coming under intense public pressure from NGO’s, that U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights woman from South Africa, Navi Pillay, human rights groups, newspapers, and political leaders to do something.

So Lavrov helped Kofi Annan come up with the Six Point Peace Plan, an important part of which was that there should be no foreign intervention. This suited us well, since we were invited guests of al-Assad, not foreign intervenors. If the U.S. or others furnished weapons to the rebels, they would be violating the agreement.

Anyway, I get distracted. Kofi Annan enjoyed the spotlight as he conducted endless rounds of discussions among different groups, and even the Syrians, about his peace plan. He enjoyed being in the limelight, and the perks.

The formula that worked was, we pretended it would somehow work, and the wimps in Europe and the United States went along because it took the pressure off of them to do anything, and they didn’t have to supply arms to the rebels.

By the time “I make believe, you make believe” came to its ultimate end, at the Geneva II peace conference in January 2014, al-Assad had pretty much turned the tide in the war and consolidated his position. To be sure, with our help and Iran’s and Hezbollah on the ground in Syria.

Then, when Bashar got a little carried away with his chemical experiments (What a great New Yorker magazine cover!), we had a problem with Obama because of that “red line” quip he had tossed off earlier about using chemical weapons.

Obama got all huffed up and puffed up and was under great pressure to launch a military strike against Syria. But he didn’t really want to. He didn’t have the “cojones”, as Madeleine Allbright would put it, to do so.

Lavrov came to the rescue with his “elimination of chemical weapons” plan. Obama jumped at it because it took the pressure off him to act militarily, while also giving the Israelis a kind of an unexpected bonus. They benefitted directly from the chemical weapons removal deal, as did al-Assad who got to retain his hold on power without worrying about any direct or indirect military interference from the U.S. and its friends, like Saudi Arabia.

But the really brilliant part of the deal was that we were able to apply the “I make believe, you make believe” principle to great effect. We pretended that the internal Syria opposition didn’t exist (which we kind of showed at Geneva II), and Obama pretended that they didn’t exist either. So the whole deal was a brilliant success–for me and al-Assad!

The Ukraine and the Minsk Protocol

Ah! Today my thoughts turn to the Minsk Protocol ceasefire and peace processs agreement. It was reached by President Petro Poroshenko, Donetsk People’s Republic President Vitaly Zakharshenko (who we gave the job to barely in time when we pulled “Igor Strelkov” from that position–a Russian citizen would not have done for this role in Minsk!), former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and the representative of the OSCE.

Originally I had a pretty good plan that I wrote on the plane on the way back from Mongolia, which achieved all of our objectives. (Actually, it amounted to a capitulation by Kiev on all essential points!)

But the EU summit in Brussels and the NATO summit in Wales complicated matters. We didn’t expect the unanimity on really harsh EU sanctions to be forthcoming on September 5, at the same time NATO announced the formation of a 5,000-man quick reaction force to be used in the Baltics.

As if I would ever think of protecting the Russian minorities there!

So we had to regroup, and I ended up agreeing to authorize Zakharshenko to agree to the 12 points in the Minsk Protocol.

We didn’t specifically say that Russian troops would be withdrawn because “I make believe, You make believe!” Russia doesn’t have any troops in the Ukraine. Nor has it been furnishing weapons and fighters, except for a few guys who got lost and others who went there on their vacations!

I’m a lawyer, and a very good one, after all. So let’s do a little analysis of what the Protocol says. My comments are in parentheses. On the key point, Russian troops, it says only:

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

This was good enough for Poroshenko. “I make believe, you make believe!” . He’s a shrewd guy, and he knew he was getting a good deal with the 12 points in the Protocol.

But of course I am a shrewder guy, and I know I can tangle up the guys at the EU when I say the Minsk Protocol’s provisions have been carried out, as follows:

1. Ensure the immediate bilateral ceasefire.

This is the only point the EU ambassadors are focusing on, and we will make sure it holds until after the momentum for further harsh sanctions has dissipated, and we’re protected from that risk.

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

They’ll be monitoring the ceasefire, not who sent Russian troops into the Donbass and near Mariupol.

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

This is the key point we can use to scuttle the Minsk Protocol after it has served its purpose of diverting the EU from adopting stronger sanctions, once attention has shifted away from what is going on.

Or, I can always use this point to pressure Poroshenko, and threaten renewed military action if Zakharshenko’s demands for independence or functional independence are not satisfied. He was getting a little bit out ahead of the train when he or one of his spokesmen said today that if the DPR’s demands were not met, the whole agreement including the ceasefire would be scuttled. I need to get his handlers to give him clearer and tighter instructions.

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

This is OK for now. At least it will keep the Ukrainians away from the border, and how many tanks can an OSCE inspector stop when they are crossing fields in the middle of the night? Anyway, I have enough Russian troops inside the Ukraine now for present purposes. If we need more later, we can change the circumstances. Zakharshenko can quit the agreement if he doesn’t get his independence, for example!

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

No problem. Zakharshenko is keen to get his men back, anyway.

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

The locals want this, as of course do our local commanders in case their guys get caught. Wonderful choice of words. “Persons” is suitably broad enough to include Russian citizens and military persons.

7. Continue the inclusive national dialogue.

No problem. Goes with point 3.

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

This is great! It will give us a formal ground to insist on sending in some more “humanitarian aid” convoys in white trucks, which can also bring back industrial equipment made in the Ukraine we need for our weapons systems and industry, as well as any more bodies of soldiers, if necessary.

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

This goes with points 3 and 7. Our “separatists” already have valuable election experience!

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

I make believe, You make believe! There is no mention of Russian soldiers here! See comments above.

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

Of course. We welcome EU money, and money from the World Bank or anywhere else, to help our local leaders rebuild the new autonomous or independent areas.

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

This is Zakharshenko’s point. I guess it make sense.

Well, it’s good to have the 12 points here, with my annotations. I’m happy to use the legal skills. At least becoming a lawyer in St. Petersburg wasn’t a total waste.

It looks like we almost got the EU to back down from the September 5 decision to implement the new sanctions. But it was a really close call. Had it not been for our friends in Finland and a couple of other countries–AND THE FACT THAT THE EUROPEANS ARE UTTER WIMPS!–the new sanctions might have actually come into effect on Tuesday, September 9.

But now, as the ceasefire holds, and we make it look like the other points are being implemented, we should be able to derail this latest sanctions action. We will give the EU ambassadors and presidents plenty of arguments to quibble over.

The key is that many of them don’t want to impose the new sanctions, because our latest threats have scared them, they are worried about the economic impact in their countries, and they have very parochial perspectives to begin with.

“I make believe, You make believe!”

Meanwhile, I am restoring Russia to its greatness! My tears when they played the national anthem today were genuine, as genuine as they ever get with an old KGB man!

End of musings by the Observer on what is going on in Putin’s head.

The Trenchant Observer

Terms of Minsk ceasefire agreement described; NATO decisions and new U.S. and EU sactions—if not sidelined at last moment—suggest toughening stance toward Putin

Friday, September 5th, 2014

Developing

Neil MacFarquhar of the New York times has provided an excellent summary of the terms of the ceasefire agreement reached in Minsk today, in the broader context of events on the ground in the Ukraine.

Much will turn on how the ceasefire holds, and how well its further provisions will be effectively implemented,

That in turn will depend on the policies and decisions of Vladimir Putin. Decisions taken at the NATO summit in Wales, including the establishment of a quick reaction force for Eastern Uropean member countries, and a decision to require NATO members to spend at least 2% of their GNP on defense (within 10 years, but that time frame could shorten), will help focus Putin’s mind, as will new and harsher sanctions agreed by the EU Friday, which are to be put in written form over the weekend, approved formally in the capitals on Monday, and published in the Official Gazette of the European Union on Tuesday, at which time they will formally enter into effect

See

Neil MacFarquhar, “Ukraine Deal Imposes Truce Putin Devised,” New York Times, September 5, 2014.

The Trenchant Observer

Putin seeks to divide EU to avoid sanctions with Ukraine “cease-fire” proposal; Russian words should be ignored, harsh EU sanctions and hard NATO decisions adopted

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Each act of apeasement dishonors those who fought for, and in many cases died for, the freedoms which we now enjoy.

For late news and opinion, see

(1) Julia Smirnova (Moskau), “Bei Moskaus schlauem Planspiel verliert Kiew Den ganzen Tag herrscht Verwirrung, dann tritt der Kreml-Chef vor die Kameras und präsentiert einen Friedensplan, der wie die große Lösung aussehen soll. Doch es handelt sich um einen schlechten Deal,” Die Welt, 3. September, 2014 (19:03 Uhr).

(2) “Papier im Wortlaut: Putins Sieben-Punkte-Plan,” Der Spiegel, 3. September 2014 (20:53 Uhr).

(3) Neil MacFarquhar, “Putin Outlines 7-Point Plan for Ukraine Cease-Fire,” New York Times, September 3, 2014.

(4) Jörg Eigendorf (Kommentar), “Putins “Friedensplan” ist sein Papier nicht wert,” Die Welt, 3. September 2014.

The gullibility of the pacifists and appeasers who lead the West knows no end, and Russian President Vladimir Putin knows very well how to take advantage of it.

He and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov showed how adept they are at this game, backing ceasefires and U.N. monitors in Syria, and Kofi Annan’s six point peace plan, the Geneva I “peace conference” in June 2012, and then the follow-on Geneva II conference in January 2014, all of which came to nothing as Bashar al-Assad’s guns kept blazing with full Russian support.

Why would anyone negotiate with Vladimir Putin, a known and blatant liar who has kept none of the promises he has made regarding the Ukraine? Does anyone remember the April 17 Geneva four-party agreement by which the separatists were to lay down their arms?

How can the Europeans allow themselves to be diverted, once again, from their task of adopting the harshest possible sanctions against Russia, whose tanks and artillery and air-defense systems are today in the Ukraine firing on Ukrainian troops, and whose puppet “separatists” have been conducting a reign of terror in the regions of the Donbass, including Donetsk and Luhansk, which are under their control?

How, above all, can you even think of negotiating with the leader of Russia who denies he has invaded the Ukraine and that thousands of Russian troops are today fighting in that country?

Any deal with Putin would not be worth the lies it was founded on, the perfidious promises it consisted of, or the paper it was written on.

The “ceasefire” of which Putin speaks is a ceasefire that would constitute a huge victory for Russia, “freezing” the conflict in the Ukraine so as to guarantee that the country cannot join the EU or eventually NATO.

In Russia, it would be hailed as a great victory for Putin, and further fan the flames of the xenophobic nationalism that drives irredentist policies of military aggression.

In other words, Putin is magnanimously offering a “ceasefire” so that the Ukraine, the EU, and the West can surrender on his terms, while Russia avoids the hard bite of further sectoral sanctions.

It would be a great deal for him. But it would signify for the West the collapse of the present international legal and political order based on the United Nations Charter and the prohibition of the threat or use of force.

During this week of critical decisions by the EU and NATO, the best advice is to ignore everything Putin or Russia says with words, and watch carefully what they say with actions.

NATO should immediately abrogate its 1997 Partnership Agreement with Russia, which the latter has ripped into pieces by its invasions of the Ukraine, and immediately deploy very large numbers of NATO troops to the eastern NATO countries bordering Russia.

The EU should adopt crippling sanctions against Moscow this week, including a ban on financial transactions, and a ban on Russian access to the SWIFT system for international funds transfers.

The whole idea of a piecemeal approach to sanctions has been a failure, utterly failing to stop Putin’s military advances. Now, nothing should be kept in reserve to order to try to deter Putin from further aggression, such as his well-calibrated threat to “take Kiev in two weeks”.

Harsh sanctions should be adopted now.

The strategic goal of the West in dealing with Putin should be to contain, and if possible to deflate, the xenophobic nationalism which Putin has fanned in Russia through his campaign of war propaganda and aggression.

Any negotiations of a ceasefire with Putin should follow the adoption of further sanctions by the EU and the taking of firm steps by NATO as outlined above.

Any ceasefire should come after, not before, these measures are taken.

Like Hitler before him, Putin will not be stopped until he meets a powerful opposing force that can halt his advances. For now, that force should consist of powerful EU sanctions, the supply of military weapons and training to the Ukrainian military, the abrogation of the NATO-Russia Partnership agreement, and decisions for prompt forward-bssing of large numbers of NATO troops in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.

If these measures do not work, NATO must be prepared to use military force to defend its members, and the postwar legal and political order based on the United Nations Charter.

The Trenchant Observer

Berlin seeks to block NATO force deployments in East on fallacious legal arguments

Sunday, August 31st, 2014

Updated September 3, 2014

See

(1) “Ukraine-Krise: Merkel will an Nato-Russland-Verträgen festhalten,” der Spiegel, 3. September 2014 (16:13 Uhr).

Im Baltikum wächst die Sorge vor einem russischen Übergriff. Kanzlerin Angela Merkel verspricht Beistand – besteht aber auf dem Nato-Russland-Vertrag. Fest stationierte Nato-Truppen soll es daher nicht geben.

(2) “Berlin bremst bei neuen Nato-Plänen gegen Russland; Beim Nato-Gipfel will die Allianz neue Stützpunkte und Truppen für die östlichen Mitglieder beschließen. Die fordern noch mehr, doch Deutschland fürchtet, Verträge mit Russland zu brechen,” Die Welt, 31. August, 2014 (20:05 Uhr).

(3) “Abrogation of 1997 NATO Partnership Agreement with Russia urgently required — With excerpts from and link to text of Foundational Act,” The Trenchant Observer, August 26, 2014.

(4) “Putin’s War: the Russian invasion by regular troops and the West’s response—critical decisions loom (Updated August 30, 2014),” the Trenchant Observer, August 30, 2014.

Germany has cited the 1997 NATO-Russia Partnersip Founding Act as a legal impediment to basing NATO troops in the East in member countries bordering on Russia.

Berlin’s legal reasoning is totally fallacious, as Russia through its continuing invasion of the Ukraine and purported annexation of the Crimea has materially breached the treaty on which the Partnership is founded.

To insist now that the Foundational Act prohibits such forward basing of NATO troops is specious and constitutes a bad-faith legal argument.

Furthermore, even the deployments that are under discussion are ludicrously inadequate. NATO needs to deploy a force to the East that can actually deter or greatly slow a Russian military intervention the Baltics. 20,000 troops is a number that should be used as the starting point of discussion. Many more will eventually be needed.

600-1,000 troops will not deter Putin or Russia, though they may serve as a trip wire for nuclear confrontation. In other words, such an insignificant force would both be inadequate to the task of countering a “stealth invasion” by Russia such as it has conducted in the Ukraine, and increase the likelihood of nuclear confrontation between Russia and NATO due to the very inadequacy of such a small force to effectively repel an invasion.

The 1997 Partnership with Russia has already been abrogated by Russia.

NATO including Berlin needs to wake up to the new realities of an aggressive and xenophobic nationalism in Russia expressed in irredentist claims that forbode further invasions.

It is long past the hour when Berlin’s pacifist and appeasement approaches must be abandoned if the security of Europe is to be guaranteed.

The best hope for European and NATO security is for NATO to take extremely hard measures that might puncture the bubble of Russian war propaganda which feeds and maintains the illusions of an unchecked nationalism that defies the constraints of international law.

If Angela Merkel wants to hold out hope for a future change in course by Vladimir Putin and Russia, or Russia after Putin, she must understand that half-measures and appeasement only goad Putin on to expanded war aims and to commit further acts of aggression.

The only hope for bringing Russia back into the world of civilized nations who uphold the U.N. Charter and its prohibition of the use of force is to take really strong military measures within NATO that will force Russia’s military and Putin to pay attention and react to new counter-threats against its security.

The free ride the West has given to Putin’s aggression must end–NOW.

Taking hard military decisions in peacetime is difficult. But it is even harder, and more dangerous, in wartime.

It requires that the illusions of pacifists and appeasers in Europe be jettisoned. One of the strongest illusions is that the 1997 Partnership Agreement has any validity or viability in the face of brazen Russian military aggression within Europe.

Once Russia returns to a foreign policy of respect for international law instead of force, there will be plenty of time to resuscitate the 1997 Partnership agreement.

But not before.

Realistically, we need to understand that Russia could be in a phase of growing authoritarian dictatorship not unlike that in Germany in 1933, when the elected Chancellor Adolph Hitler proceeded to wipe out his opposition and build the military powerhouse of the Third Reaich that was to devastate Europe and unleash a World War that cost some 50 million lives.

One important difference is that Putin, unlike Hitler, has thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at the West.

If Angela Merkel wants to uphold an international legal obligation, she should think about upholding the United Nations Charter and its jus cogens (peremptory law) prohibition in Article 2 paragraph 4 of “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”.

The Trenchant Observer

Abrogation of 1997 NATO Partnership Agreement with Russia urgently required — With excerpts from and link to text of Foundational Act

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

The NATO-Russia partnership agreement was signed in 1997, when the Russian Federation was viewed as a post-war friend.

That was before Russia under Vladimir Putin morphed into an authoritarian state pusuing policies of military aggression and annexation of conquered territories.

Pertinent sections of the Founding Act are reproduced below:

Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation signed in Paris, France, 27 May. 1997

I. Principles

Proceeding from the principle that the security of all states in the Euro-Atlantic community is indivisible, NATO and Russia will work together to contribute to the establishment in Europe of common and comprehensive security based on the allegiance to shared values, commitments and norms of behaviour in the interests of all states. NATO and Russia will help to strengthen the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including developing further its role as a primary instrument in preventive diplomacy, conflict prevention, crisis management, post-conflict rehabilitation and regional security cooperation, as well as in enhancing its operational capabilities to carry out these tasks. The OSCE, as the only pan-European security organisation, has a key role in European peace and stability. In strengthening the OSCE, NATO and Russia will cooperate to prevent any possibility of returning to a Europe of division and confrontation, or the isolation of any state.

To achieve the aims of this Act, NATO and Russia will base their relations on a shared commitment to the following principles:

*development, on the basis of transparency, of a strong, stable, enduring and equal partnership and of cooperation to strengthen security and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area;

*acknowledgement of the vital role that democracy, political pluralism, the rule of law, and respect for human rights and civil liberties and the development of free market economies play in the development of common prosperity and comprehensive security;

*refraining from the threat or use of force against each other as well as against any other state, its sovereignty, territorial integrity or political independence in any manner inconsistent with the United Nations Charter and with the Declaration of Principles Guiding Relations Between Participating States contained in the Helsinki Final Act;

*respect for sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all states and their inherent right to choose the means to ensure their own security, the inviolability of borders and peoples’ right of self-determination as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act and other OSCE documents;

*mutual transparency in creating and implementing defence policy and military doctrines;

*prevention of conflicts and settlement of disputes by peaceful means in accordance with UN and OSCE principles;

*support, on a case-by-case basis, of peacekeeping operations carried out under the authority of the UN Security Council or the responsibility of the OSCE.

Russia has through its invasions of the Ukraine and annexation of the Crimea torn up this Founding Agreement.

The assumptions on which was based are no longer valid.

As NATO rubs its eyes and starts to perceive the fact that Russia has become an enemy which rejects the foundational principles of the U.N. Charter and the most basic principles of international law, it should immediately suspend all activities under the partnership agreement, and give notice of abrogation of this agreement with the Russian Federation, to take effect in six months.

NATO needs to focus on and respond to current realities, and jettison illusions based on assumptions which are no longer valid, and hopes for possibilities which no longer exist.

Putin and Russia have become the enemy of the NATO countries.

The sooner that fact is recognized, and acted upon, the sooner the citizens of NATO countries will take the steps necessary to safeguard their own security.

The Trenchant Observer

Putin redraws the map of Europe with Russian troops, as Western leaders slumber through the summer of appeasement of 2014

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Western leaders, caught in the incapacitating net of their own illusions about Russia, and their own deep-seated pacifism and appeasement, are in effect slumbering through the summer of 2014, as the map of Europe is being redrawn by Russian troops.

One of the first tenets of warfare, and diplomacy, is “know your enemy”. The West does not yet recognize the true features of the enemy that Russia has become.

Vladimir Putin has, from his perspective, succeeded brilliantly in executing his war of aggression and annexation against the Ukraine.

A judo master, he has shown extreme deftness at throwing feints and converting his opponents lunges into throws leaving him standing triumphant and his opponent on his back across the room.

He delights in turning the arguments made or almost made by the West in other conflicts on their head, and using them to his advantage. Thus he now argues that delivery of “humanitarian aid” to the separatists in the Donbass is consistent with international law, as the West argued or might have argued in Syria, when Russia backed Bashar al-Ashad to the hilt in blocking U.N. convoys of humanitarian aid.

He is a master of deception, launching the great “humanitarian aid” convoy of 280 trucks painted white from Moscow, enticing the world to devote its attention to the convoy — for days — while other columns of tanks and armored personnel carriers and other equipment and fighters penetrated into the Ukraine in the middle of the night.

Another diversion of our attention occurred yesterday, when he allowed and probably organized the despicable parading of captured Ukrainian soldiers before crowds on Ukrainian independence day — a blatant war crime in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War.

While this spectacle was proceeding, and Russia announced it was sending another white-truck “humanitarian aid” convoy to the Ukraine, reports emerged of new military columns moving into the Ukraine suggesting the Russian-led and supported counter-offensive now had Mariupol firmly in its sights.

See,

Olga Razumovskaya, “Russia Plans New Aid Convoy; Ukraine Says Moscow Moved Tanks; Kiev Says Moscow Sent Tanks, Armored Vehicles Into Its Territory,” Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2014 (Updated 4:40 p.m. ET).

Amid signs of sharpening fighting in Ukraine’s east, Kiev said Moscow Monday sent a column of tanks and armored vehicles into its territory near the site of a rebel offensive. Ukraine’s military said it attacked the column and blocked its advance, but Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko expressed “extreme concern” about the armored column and Russia’s plans for a new convoy in a phone conversation with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, his office said.

After surrounding the provincial capitals of Donetsk and Luhansk, officials in Kiev said Monday that Ukrainian troops were now fighting off counterattacks. On Ukraine’s southern coast, rebels said they were pushing their way out of Donetsk toward Mariupol, a port city taken from rebels in mid-June in the first big victory by Ukrainian government troops.

Vladimir Putin has brilliantly probed and withdrawn, and probed again, until he found opportunities to advance his military invasion of the Ukraine in little starts and stops, always taking care to avoid the devastating economic sanctions that the West has in its hands the power to use.

Putin is keenly attentive to the reactions of the pacifists and appeasers who lead the West, and has been shrewdly effective in defusing any momentum toward the imposition of really harsh sanctions.

The President of Russia has given new meaning to the expression “the salami technique”, which in the past referred to the salami slicing approach of the Soviet Union in seizing power in the countries of Eastern Europe between 1945 and 1949.

In the Putin version, we now have military invasion by “the salami technique”. Sending in a few tanks here, a few soldiers there, intensifying the invasion when the West is distracted, looking the other way, or not looking at all (as with President Obama on his long-sheduled vacation to Martha’s Vineyard).

At the end of the day, a lot of salami has been sliced up. Russia has intervened militarily in the Ukraine to prevent the so-called “separatist” forces (which it has itself been sending in) from being defeated by the Ukrainian military, as the latter legitimately seeks to restore public order in the Donbass.

After the invasion of the Crimea, the reaction of the West was, first, to publicly rule out the use of force, and, second, to slap the wrists of Russia by imposing rsestrictive measures on a handful of individuals and one or two banks.

Putin then annexed the Crimea.

In response, the West signalled that it would ultimately accept this annexation, if only Putin would not invade the remaining part of the Ukraine and stop supporting the “separatists”.

Putin held off on overt military intervention (for the time being), but continued to send fighters and equipment, including advanced air-defense systems, into the Donbass.

After the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17 on July 17, the EU did adopt its first limited “stage 3″ sectoral sanctions. They, like the U.S. sanctions, were still mild in relation to the harm they sought to redress.

In response, in addition to counter-sanctions banning the importation of foodstuffs, Putin devised his white truck “humanitarian aid” ploy, while at the same time sending regular Russian troops including tanks and artillery into the Dunbass. He also fired Russian artillery across the border against targets in the Ukraine (a development in progress for weeks). The artillery shelling effectively secured an open border and a band some 20-40 kilometers deep in the Ukraine. This kept Ukrainian forces from sealing the border, leaving the area under “separatist” control.

To this overt invasion by regular forces, the West did not respond at all, except for Angela Merkel’s trip to Kiev on Saturday, August 23, and her pledge of 500 million euros to help in reconstruction of the Donbass.

Belatedly, on August 22, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen denounced the movement of regular forces into the Ukraine and the firing of Russian artillery by Russian soldiers from within the Ukraine. But the announcement was not accompanied by any action, other than a statement that NATO’s rotating presence in countries bordering Russia would be increased.

As Russia’s overt invasion continued, without provoking even the adoption of additional “stage 3″ sanctions by Europe or the U.S. in response, Putin sent new military columns into the Ukraine which crossed the border closer to Mariupol to the South.

From the Russian perspective, President Putin has brilliantly demonstrated the power of the new Russian “stealth mode of warfare”.

Given the continuing pacifism and appeasement of the West, and as the new incursion nearer Mariupol suggests, Putin may now see no obstacle to an invasion (whether all-out or by “the salami technique”) of the territory between Russia and the Crimea, securing direct land access to the Black Sea Fleet in Sevastopol.

Achievement of this objective would constitute a key military and strategic triumph — one for the history books.

Poland and Lithuania, which sit between Russia and its exclave Kaliningrad, will be paying close attention.

Western leaders, caught in the incapacitating net of their own illusions about Russia, and their own deep-seated pacifism and appeasement, are in effect slumbering through the summer of 2014, as the map of Europe is being redrawn by Russian troops.

The Trenchant Observer

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

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Developing

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

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

It is that stark and simple.

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

See

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

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

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

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

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

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

What can the West and other civilized nations do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is that stark and simple.

As was the case with Adolf Hitler.

The Trenchant Observer

Ukraine reports capture of two Russian tanks — providing further proof of ongoing Russian military intervention

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Further evidence of the ongoing military intervention by Russia in the Ukraine was made public today when the Ukrainian government announced it had captured two Russian tanks in the Luhansk area.

According to the Ukrainian military spokesman, Andrei Lysenko, the tanks were from a company of the First Parachute Company (No. 74268) of the Air-Land Division based in Pskov (Russia), some 290 kilometers southwest of St Petersberg near the border with Estonia. According to documents found at the scene and blog posts by one of the members of the tank crews, Lev Schlosberg, the tanks had been sent to the Crimea in February.

See

“Ukrainische Armee erobert nahe Luhansk russische Panzer; Bei Kämpfen rund um die ostukrainische Stadt Luhansk hat die Armee nach eigenen Angaben zwei Panzer erobert. Sie stammen demnach aus einer russischen Kompanie in Pskow,” Die Zeit, 21. August 2014 (13:50 Uhr).

Ukrainische Soldaten hätten die Fahrzeuge der Luftlandedivision aus dem russischen Pskow in ihre Gewalt gebracht, sagte der ukrainische Armeesprecher Andrej Lyssenko.

Die ukrainische Armee hat bei Kämpfen um die von Separatisten kontrollierte Stadt Luhansk nach eigenen Angaben zwei russische Armeepanzer erobert. Ukrainische Soldaten hätten die Fahrzeuge der Luftlandedivision aus dem russischen Pskow in ihre Gewalt gebracht, sagte der ukrainische Armeesprecher Andrej Lyssenko. Russland dementierte die Angaben. “Unter den täglichen angeblichen Aufdeckungen russischer Präsenz in der Ukraine ist das jetzt schon das 1001. Beweisstück”, sagte der russische Armeesprecher Igor Konaschenkow der amtlichen Nachrichtenagentur Itar-Tass.

Nach ukrainischen Angaben befanden sich in einem der Fahrzeuge Militärdokumente und ein Führerschein. Demnach gehörten die Panzer zur Einheit 74268 der ersten Fallschirmspringer-Kompanie der Luftlandedivision Pskow im Nordwesten Russlands. Diese an der Grenze zu Estland und Lettland stationierte Division war in der Vergangenheit in zahlreichen Konflikten im Einsatz. Im Februar hatte der Abgeordnete von Pskow, Lew Schlosberg, in seinem Blog geschrieben, die Division sei auf die später von Russland annektierte ukrainischen Halbinsel Krim entsendet worden.

This evidence adds to the overwhelming amount of accumulated evidence demonstrating that Russia has been conducting an ongoing invasion of the eastern Ukraine, originally intended to be beneath the radar in the new Russian form of a “stealth invasion”.

The invasion constitutes an “armed attack” within the meaning of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, triggering the “inherent right” of individual or collective self-defense which authorizes the Ukraine and any other state which elects to join it to undertake military and other measures to stop the invading forces.

These military actions must be necessary and proprtional to securing the goal of halting the Russian aggression, but need not be limited to the territory of the Ukraine. In principle, they could include military measures taken against and within Russia itself.

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

Under international law, the Ukraine also has the right to restore public order, and to put on trial those responsible for committing acts of insurrection and other crimes within its sovereign national territory.

The Trenchant Observer