Posts Tagged ‘armed attack’

Russian “Invasion” or Incursion” in Ukraine? Obama and the primacy of words over actions

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Barack Obama, as noted here before, places the highest priority on words, and conducting foreign policy through words, not actions.

See ”ISIS or ISIL? A telling tale of the primacy of words over actions in Obama’s foreign policy,” The Trenchant Observer, June 19, 2014.

Now, with respect to the Ukraine, Obama is trying to be cute with words, refusing to characterize Russia’s invasion of the eastern Ukraine as an “invasion”, because of the pressures the use of that term could generate for him to take forceful action against Russia.

See Erin McCarthy, “So Far, NATO and U.S. Avoid ‘Invasion’ Talk,” Wall street Journal, August 28, 2014 (6:49 pm ET).

Peter Baker of the New York times quoted some of the president’s statements before the press Thursday, and also described differences between Obama and some of his key advisors.

Mr. Obama seemed equally intent on managing expectations about what the United States may do in response to reports that Russia has sent forces into Ukraine. Although he said he expected to impose additional sanctions, he declined to call Russia’s latest moves an invasion, as Ukraine and others have, saying they were “not really a shift” but just “a little more overt” form of longstanding Russian violations of Ukrainian sovereignty.

“I consider the actions that we’ve seen in the last week a continuation of what’s been taking place for months now,” Mr. Obama said. “The separatists are backed, trained, armed, financed by Russia. Throughout this process, we’ve seen deep Russian involvement in everything that they’ve done.”

In both cases, Mr. Obama took a strikingly different tone than his own advisers….

–Peter Baker, “Obama Urges Calm in Face of Crises in Ukraine and Syria,” New York Times, August 28, 2014.

Does the President understand what has been going on in the Ukraine while he was on vacation?

The point he is making here, however revealing it may be of Obama’s proclivities toward pacifism and appeasement in the face of Russian aggression, is totally irrelevant in terms of the prohibition against the threat or use of force in the United Nations Charter and international law.

There can be no doubt that the Russian “invasion” or “incursion”, or whatever you want to call it, constitutes an “armed attack” within the meaning of Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, giving rise to the “inherent right of individual or collective self-defense” through the use of force.

Any impartial international lawyer would agree that a flagrant violation of the Charter’s prohibitions has been and is taking place.

So what are we to make of the Obama administration’s trying to be cute with words?

One is reminded of Hillary Clinton’s refusal to characterize the genocide by the Sudanese government in the western Darfur region of the country as “genocide”, because to do so would create imperatives to do something about it.

While Obama is being cute with words, he is also not taking meaningful actions to halt and roll back Russian aggression in the Ukraine.

And despite his tough talk on ISIS, or “ISIL” as he prefers to call what has now morphed into what calls itself “the Islamic State”, the White House is now leaking that the bombing campaign against ISIS isn’t going to start any time soon.

Obama not only fails to connect the dots, not understanding how his actions or temporizing on military action against ISIS might affect Putin’s perceptions of his resolve, but also fails to understand the relative importance of the Russian invasion of the Ukraine in comparison with the recent actions of ISIS.

On a day when the U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss the invasion in progress by regular Russian troops of the eastern Ukraine, Obama can’t even focus the world’s attention on that enormous development.

The invasion of the Ukraine is by far the most significant challenge facing the West and the civilized nations of the world which don’t invade each other, or want to.

So, what does the President do?

He quibbles about the word “invasion”, while failng to address the impications for the world of Russia’s actions, or to lay out the harsh sanctions the U.S. should be planning to impose on Russia.

His continued use of the vocabulary of cost-benefit analysis (saying Russia will pay additional “costs”) reveals he is still firmly in the grip of “the rational actor fallacy” in dealing with Russia, a country now full of xenophobic nationalism and enthusiasm for aggression, which is under the cunning but demented authoritarian leadership of a former KGB operative who dreams of making history through conquering territories that were formerly part of the Soviet Union (read Russian Empire).

As if this were not proof enough of the President’s cluelessness, and the incompetence of his White House foreign policy team, Obama also admitted today before the cameras that the U.S. does not have a policy on how to deal with ISIS.

This was a shocking admission.

It is hardly excused by the fact that the president has been on vacation for the last two weeks. ISIS took Falluja months ago, and Mosul on June 10, 2014.

When might we expect the Obama administration to come up with a policy?

Democratic political leaders should be gravely concerned. If they don’t do something to reverse the current course of appeasement toward Russia, or the temporizing response to ISIS, they will be extremely vulnerable to a strong national security candidste on the Republican ticket in the 2016 presidential elections.

Obama lives in his own world, which is hermetically sealed from hearing and having to respond to criticism.

Ask Obama what his three greatest mistakes in foreign policy have been, and he would probably give a carefully calibrated response meant to be politically clever but which is wholly lacking in any genuine admission of error.

He cannot admit that he has made mistakes, because he believes that like a god his analysis and decisions are superior and not susceptible to error. He has thought everything through, or is still in the process, and none of his judgments have been wrong. His critics just don’t understand things as well as he does.

He can’t see or understand the foreign policy mistakes he has made. As a result, there are few grounds for hope that he can correct them.

Because Obama doesn’t respond to criticism, many critics have simply given up. What’s the point?

The point is that an educated citizenry is required for a democracy to work, particularly in the area of foreign policy where voters’ bread and butter concerns are usually not directly related to issues and decisions.

Criticism where due, and praise, are the fuel of democracy, the essential combustible on which it runs.

The Trenchant Observer

Putin’s War: the Russian invasion by regular troops and the West’s response—critical decisions loom

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Developing

Latest News and Opinion

See

(1) Bertold Kohler (Kommentar), “Verbrannte Erde in der Ukraine: Putins Krieg,” Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 28. August 2014

Der Westen darf sich nicht länger von Putin an der Nase herumführen lassen. Der russische Präsident hat kein Interesse an der Befriedung und Stabilisierung der Ukraine. Er wünscht sich einen „failed state“ als Pufferzone zu Demokratie und Rechtsstaatlichkeit.

(2) Daniel Brössler, “Russland lässt alle Hüllen fallen,” Sueddeutsche Zeitung, 28. August 2014 (18:41 Uhr).

Wo vor Wochen zwei Flugzeuge standen, ist jetzt kaum noch Platz. Satellitenfotos vom Militärflugplatz Millerowo lassen keine Zweifel mehr. Die Russen haben an der Grenze zur Ukraine tausende Soldaten zusammengezogen. Die Nato spricht bei ihrer Präsentation im belgischen Mons von einer “hochmobilen, effektiven Offensiv-Streitmacht”.

(3) Shaun Walker (Kiev), Ukraine: emergency UN, Nato, EU meetings after Russian invasion claim; iNato says 1,000 Russian troops fighting in Ukraine as Kiev accuses Moscow of de facto invasion and opening second front,” The Guardian, August 28, 2014 (15.02 EDT).

August 30 EU Summit in Brussels: Further Step 3 sectoral sanctions; selection of new foreign policy chief, and new President of Council of Europe

If the EU yields to the pacifists and appeasers among its leaders, and decides to impose only mildly more serious sanctions on Russia or none at all, or delays acting once again, Vladimir Putin is likely to accelerate his strategic conquest of eastern Ukraine by seizing territory which provides a land corridor between the Crimea and The Russian Federation within its current boundaries.

With these new facts on the ground, a new Cold War, from which there can be no return so long as Putin remains in power, will have been set in concrete.

Inside Russian, any officials or advisers who may be seeking or in the future seek a reversal of Putin’s policies of military aggression and ennexation of conquered territories will be stripped ou their last argument against such actions.

The stakes are enormous, and include the following :

–all arms control treaties to which Russia is an important party

–the U.N. Charter’s governing the use of force, including the prohibition of the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of a

September 4-5 NATO Summit in Wales

Kurt Volker and Erik Brattberg,”NATO must stand up to Putin’s threat to invade Ukraine,” Washington Post, August 28, 2014 (8:02 PM).

Developing draft — check back for updates and revisions

The Trenchant Observer

Ukraine: Appeasement continues; Putin’s victory at Minsk; Latest news and commentary

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

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

Developing

For the lastest on Russian military moves in the Ukraine, see

(1) “Poroschenko meldet Invasion durch russisches Militär,” Suddeutsche Zeitung, 28. August, 2014 (10:56 Uhr).

(2) Andrew E. Kramer and Michael R, Gordon, “Ukraine Reports Russian Invasion on a New Front, New York Times, August 27, 2014.

The pacifists and appeasers who lead the West seem lost.

Angela Merkel is reportedly concerned that EU and NATO actions vis-vis the Ukraine not hurt Russia’s interests. A high EU official stresses that the European Union will do what it can to meet Russia’s concerns over the EU-NATO cooperation agreement signed in June.

They don’t get it.

We are no longer living in that world.

Vladimir Putin emerged from his meeting in Minsk with Petro Poroshenko, and others including high European officials, with victory in hand.

No third-stage or “stage 3″ sanctions are going to be imposed, even after his sending regular Russian forces into the eastern Ukraine.

No one was even discussing implementing tougher “stage 3″ sectoral sanctions against Russia. These had long been threatened (with several deadlines passing without consequences) if Russia invaded the eastern Ukraine or didn’t stop its military support of the so-called “separatists”.

Putin called the West’s bluff, and won.

Then he intensified the overt Russian invasion of the Ukraine, opening another front to the South toward Mariupol.

This is his pattern. He does whatever necessary to deflect the adoption of really harsh sanctions, and after he succeeds he escalates Russia’s military intervention in the Ukraine.

He may be executing a strategic plan to join the Crimea to Russia by seizing territory to the South of Donetsk and Luhansk.

This may have been a long-term strategy for some time, but as he encounters no resistance from the West he appears to be speeding it up, as he did in the Crimea when he encountered no opposition from the West.

After Minsk, Angela Merkel has now demonstrated her pacifism and appeasement of Putin beyond the slightest doubt. However skilled in economic matters, she comes off as a naive schoolgirl when dealing with Vladimir Putin, no doubt under the strong influence of her SPD foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Steinmeier is the former chief of staff of SPD ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, Putin’s business partner and leading apologist in Germany.

We can’t look to Germany any more for leadership on the Ukraine.

Nor can we look to France, given Francois Hollande’s sell-out to Moscow by guaranteeing delivery of the two Mistral-class warships to Russia.

Great Britain is a possible but dubious potential source of leadership. David Cameron comes out strutting like a rooster, saying the right things, but then withdraws to the barn at the first sign of opposition. The strongest example was when he lost an ill-prepared vote in the House of Commons to authorize military action against Syria after Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons at Ghouta in August, 2013. Instead of renewing the political fight with better preparation, he simply gave up.

The only potential leadership to stand up to Russia is in Poland and the Baltics, with support from other countries such as Norway. After the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17, the political backbone of Holland seemed to stiffen, but time will be needed to see if that change holds.

The key decision at the EU summit this weekend is going to be the choice of the new foreign affairs boss. If the Italian Federica Mogherini is voted in, Putin can break out the Champagne, as she will not be inclined to lead stiff opposition to Russian aggression.

According to late reports, however, she will be chosen.

The effect is likely to be to neuter the EU as a force that can act effectively to rein Putin in.

On the other hand, if someone like the Pole Radoslav Sikorski were to be selected, Europe could expect strong and experienced foreign policy leadership, particularly with respect to Russia.

As for the United States, Barack Obama has been on vacation while Russia was launching an invasion of the eastern Ukraine with regular Russian soldiers.

What more can be said?

Can one imagine John F. Kennedy leaving Washington for a two-week vacation at Hyannisport during the Cuban Missile Crisis?

Given the hopeless incompetence of Barack Obama and his White House foreign policy team, the only hope for stronger leadership from the U.S. would be if Hillary Clinton and other Democratic leaders were to pull off the gloves and start setting forth a much more robust set of foreign policy options and policies. Were they to do this strongly enough, and soon enough, it could push the Obama administration toward stronger policies of containment toward Russia.

It would also position these Democratic leaders to better withstand a hard charge from Republican critics of Obama’s policies and foreign policy failures.

Unless the direction of current U.S., EU, and NATO actions changes sharply, and quickly, future historians are likely to write of “the summer of appeasement of 2014″, the story of how the leaders of the West failed to effectively stand up to Putin’s policies of military aggression and annexation.

They will be writing, and living, in a different world.

The Trenchant Observer

Julia Smirnova of Die Welt lays out proof that Russian regular troops are fighting in the eastern Ukraine

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Despite Vladimir Putin’s blatant lies asserting that Russian troops have not entered the Ukraine, seasoned reporter Julia Mirnova of Die Welt lays out irrefutable evidence that Russian regular forces have been and are fighting and dying in the eastern Ukraine, in Putin’s “secret war”. Repercussions at home, back in Russia, are starting to be felt.

See Julia Smirnova, “Putins Soldaten wissen nicht, dass sie in den Krieg ziehen,” Die Welt, 26. August 2014 (22:34 Uhr).

Putins Soldaten wissen nicht, dass sie in den Krieg ziehen; Erstmals gibt es Beweise dafür, dass Russland die Separatisten in der Ostukraine nicht nur mit Technik, sondern auch mit Soldaten der regulären Armee unterstützt. Das belastet die Minsker Gespräche.

To acess this article in languags other than German, use Google Translate, found here.

The Trenchant Observer

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

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

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

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

*****

Originally published on August 22, 2014

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

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

It is that stark and simple.

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

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

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

Speak to Putin with actions, not threats

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

The news headline tonight is that President Barack Obama and Chancelor Angela Merkel are “demanding” that President Vladimir Putin withdraw his “humanitarian aid” truck convoy from Ukrainian territory.

They can save their breath.

Speaking to Putin with threats, given the number of threats they have made and not carried out—resorting to new threats instead, is like trying to communicate with a human by blowing a dog whistle which is out of the human range of hearing.

The only language Putin and Russia can hear is the language of actions. This assertion is fully supported by the factual record.

See

(1) “REPRISE: The language of actions—Russia, the Ukraine, and the response of the West,” The Trenchant Observer, July 20, 2014.

(2) “The language of actions: Russia, the Ukraine, and the response of the West,” The Trenchant Observer, April 10, 2014.

Obama and Merkel should quit calling and meeting with Putin, and immediately impose broad and deep economic or “stage 3″ sectoral sanctions against Russia, as they threatened they would do if he invaded the Ukraine again.

The policy of appeasement has dramatically failed.

More than that, as Putin probed for weaknesses in the West, he found them in the pacifism and appeasement of Western leaders, in which Western responses to his aggressions were deeply rooted.

This pacifism and appeasement emboldened him, and is a major cause of the Russian aggression in the Crimea, and its agggression in the eastern Ukraine that we are witnessing now.

So, Merkel and Obama can save their breath and not even bother to make threats of future actions if Putin does or does not do a certain thing.

His forces have invaded and are fighting in the Ukraine. The West must find actions, not words or threats, that can reverse this course of events.

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

FEAR OF THE AGGRESSOR: Merkel reported planning to push for ceasefire in Ukraine at Minsk meeting with Poroshenko, Putin

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

Draft (developing)

Richard Balmforth of Reuters reports tonight that President Petro Petroshenko plans to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin to withdraw his fighters from the Ukraine when he meets with Putin and other leaders in Minsk next week.

He also reports that Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning to push for a ceasefire in the Donbass at the talks in Minsk.

See

Richard Balmforth (Kiev), “Ukraine’s Poroshenko talks tough ahead of meetings with Merkel, Putin,” August 21, 2014 (9:57pm EDT).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is scheduled to visit Kiev on Saturday to show her support for Poroshenko – but diplomats say she is also bearing a message that he should consider calling a ceasefire so as not to incur a backlash from Putin.

What is appalling about Merkel’s reported intention to push for a ceasefire is that it reveals, in the starkest possible terms, the primal fear of the aggressor which has dictated the West’s response to Russian aggression in the Ukraine, first by invading and annexing the Crimea, and then by launching and sustaining an invasion by Russian special operations, intelligence and irregular forces to foment and carry out an insurrection in the eastern Ukraine.

The West’s responses to these continuing acts of Russian aggression have been dictated by fear, pure and simple, fear of provoking the aggressor, Vladimir Putin.

European and NATO country leaders have been extraordinarily slow to grasp the significance of military invasions carried out by Russia, a major European and world power (with its nuclear arsenal), against an important European country.

They have stumbled ovver themselves in trying to “help” Vladimir Putin find an “exit” or an “off ramp” from his headlong rush of military invasion and intervention in the Ukraine.

They are grateful he hasn’t sent the regular Russian armed forces into Ukraine, and flatter themselves in thinking that their pathetic “telephone diplomacy” has had something to do with this “forebearance”, when in fact it has only allowed the confict to grow in intensity as Russia intervenes more actively.

Surprisingly, NATO after warning that a Russian invasion of the Ukraine was “highly probable”, has failed to make public information regarding that invasion as it has been taking place in the last two or three weeks.

This is the submission by the abused party to the abuser. There is a kind of intuitive understanding that Russia will deny it is invading the Ukraine (in stealth mode), while the West will pretend not to see the tanks crossing across the border at night, or the Russian artillery firing into the Ukraine to give them and the separatists control over a zone 20-40 kilometers deep in the Ukraine.

Russia denies. The leaders of the West pretend not to see. They do so because making public details of Russian military intervention could increase pressure on them to undertake measures they don’t want to take. Out of fear of the aggressor.

Not one of them seems to give one whit for upholding the United Nations Charter by taking forceful and effective measures to halt and roll back Russian aggression.

They have by their silence telegraphed to Putin that they will accept his invasion and annexation of the Crimea, if only he will be nice enough now not to invade the remaining portion of the country with his regular armed forces.

They have responded to Russia’s aggression with pacifism (no talk of using armed force to halt Russia, no active military support of the Ukrainian army with heavy weapons, advanced weapons systems, and onsite training), and appeasement.

Even the downing of Malaysian Flight MH17 on July 17 (by a Russian SA-11 air-defense system sent to the Donbass) produced only a fleeting stiffening of thee will in the EU. Some Stage 3 sanctions were imposed on Russia, but no further threatened actions have been adopted despite Putin’s continued support and coordination of the “separatists”.

Let’s call it what it is: Appeasement.

That is what helping Putin “save” face, or “not pushing him into a corner” or “creating an off-ramp” for Putin is, quite simply: Appeasement.

(One can conjure up what an off-ramp for Adolf Hitler might have entailed.)

Now the unthinking leaders of the West, according to the Reuters’ report on Merkel’s intentions, are prepared to push for a “ceasefire” in the Donbass.

In other words, when Putin’s invaders find themselves on the ropes and at great risk of being defeated by the Ukrainian army–at great sacrifice, to be sure–Chancellor Merkel wants to come to Putin’s rescue and pull his bacon out of the fire.

Why?

Primal fear is the answer. Fear of provoking the aggressor, grounded in deep pacifism and unwillingness to stand up for the values of the West, which include the United Nations Charter and the rule of law.

SPD Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s close connection to former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder (he was his chief of staff) does not help.  (Schroeder is Putin’s buddy, business partner in the Nordstream gas pipeline, and one of his leading apologists in Germany.

Instead, the pacifists and appeasers in Germany, France and other countries want to give way before those who have invaded the Ukraine in violation of Article 2 paragrap 4 of the U.N. Charter (which prohibits the use of force), to shore up the position of those who have terrorized inhabitants of the Donbass in areas under their control, and to “freeze” the conflict in the Ukraine, all in order to placate Mr. Putin.

They continue to labor under the illusion that they can get back to “business as usual” with Putin and Russia, with all of the trade and joint business projects between Germany anf Russia, with France’s delivery of advanced technology with the two Mistral-class attack warships sold to Russia, and two more to be built jointly with the Russians in St. Petersburg, and London’s lucrative business of sanitizing the wealth of Russian billionaires acquired through the corrupt crony state capitalism of the Putin regime.

They want to continue all of that, despite Russian annexation of the Crimea in flagrant violation of the U.N. Charter’s prohibition of the use of force, and despite Putin’s moral and legal responsibility for over 2,000 deaths in the eastern Ukraine as a result of his launching a war of aggression.

They are like the supporters of Neville Chamberlain in England before the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, who wanted to celebrate “peace in our time”. In this year of commemorations (100 years since the onset of WW I, 70 years since the D-Day landing at Normandy in 1944), it should be noted that the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Poland is only 11 days away. The 46th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia was yesterday.

So, they want to appease Putin. And one way of doing that is to force the Ukraine to accept a ceasefire that is not a surrender by the “separatists”, but rather a way of helping Putin freeze the conflict in the Ukraine, so that the Ukraine can not follow the democratic path and join Europe as its citizens desire.

FEAR OF THE AGGRESSOR.

Somewhere there must be a modern-day Winston Churchill waiting in the wings, who will have to lead what remains of the EU and NATO out of the rubble which is left after the pacifists’ and appeasers’ illusions about Putin, and Russia, have been shattered.

Or, if there is no new Churchill, it will all simply fall apart.

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