Posts Tagged ‘El Observador Incisivo’

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

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Latest News and Opinion


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Ensure the immediate bilateral ceasefire.

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

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

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

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

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

7. Continue the inclusive national dialogue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Trenchant Observer

Full text of Minsk Protocol on Ceasefire in Ukraine (September 5, 2014)

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has now published the full text of the Protocol for a ceasefire in the Ukraine.


Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, “Protocol on the results of consultations of the Trilateral Contact Group, signed in Minsk, 5 September 2014,

The official text is published in Russian here.

An informal English translation (as well as the signed Russian text) can be found here, at

The informal English text published by is as follows:

1. Ensure the immediate bilateral ceasefire.

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

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

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

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

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

7. Continue the inclusive national dialogue.

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

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

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

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

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

(liveleak commentary:

Certainly reads like a victory for Kiev, the Ukrainian Oligarchs, the Russian Oligarchs, the EU government, and the US government.
Don’t see how this agreement benefits the DNR/LNR or the cause of Novorossiya in any way.

See also

“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,” The Trenchant Observer, September 5, 2014.

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


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


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

The Trenchant Observer

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

Friday, September 5th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


(1) Louis Kacngsepp and Juhana Rossi (Talinn, Estonia), “Eestonia Says Officer Abducted Near Russian Border; Security Service Accuses Individuals Coming From Russia; Moscow Says Arrest Occurred in Russia, Wall Street Journal,″>Septmener 5, 2014 (5:12 p.m. ET).

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Trenchant Observer

Barack Obama’s phantasmagoric world, where the choice of words defines reality

Friday, September 5th, 2014

phantasmagoria /ˌfæntæzməˈɡɔːrɪə/, phantasmagory /fænˈtæzməɡərɪ/
1. a shifting medley of real or imagined figures, as in a dream
2. a sequence of pictures made to vary in size rapidly while remaining in focus
3. RARE a shifting scene composed of different elements

Etymology: 19th Century: probably from French fantasmagorie production of phantasms, from phantasm + -agorie, perhaps from Greek ageirein to gather together

phantasmagoric /ˌfæntæzməˈɡɒrɪk/, ˌphantasmaˈgorical

–Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers

U.S. President Barack Obama was quite successful as a candidadate in 2008 and 2012 through the modern political technique of managing the narrative.

Unfortunately, he has for five and half years applied the same tecnique to the management of his foreign policy narrative.

Tragically, he has paid much more attention to the narrative of his foreign policies and the fine intellectual distinctions he makes in his head than he has to the changing realities on the ground in a number of crises, the relationships between them, and the need for the adoption of an effective strategy and implementing actions which can simultaneously deal with all of them.

These crises include Russia and its invasions of the Ukraine, Syria, ISIS, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Libya, Yemen, Sudan and South Sudan, Somalia, the expansion of islamic militant groups across the northern half of Africa (Boko Haram in Nigeria is but one example), and China’s territorial claims and militant actions in the South China and East China Seas.

The evidence that Obama gives priority to the choice of words and managing his foreign policy narrative instead of developing strategy and implementing it through decisive actions is very strong.

In Afganistan, the 2009 policy review spent an enormous amount of time debating whether the goal there should be to “degrade” or to “defeat” the Taliban.

With ISIS, which did not come upon the scene overnight, there is evidence that a similar debate has been taking place, with the president only at the NATO Summit on September 4-5 declaring that the goal should be both to “degrade” and to “destroy” ISIS.

Aside from revealing the divisions within his foreign policy team, this unhappy formulation also reveals–paradoxically–that the president does not always think through the implications of the words he speaks.

From a foreign policy narrative perspective, the formulation makes perfect sense, since it can be portrayed as not reflecting a change in policy. From a strategic and action perspective, the words are pure nonsense.

Further evidence of the priority given by the President to words instead of actions is provided by the emphasis he has placed on calling ISIS by his preferred name, ISIL (“the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant”), instead of ISIS (“the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” or “the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham”).

Most recently, as the EU, NATO and the U.S. have faced the challenge of how to respond to the second Russian invasion of the Ukraine, this time in the Donbass, Obama has been very careful to characterize the movement of Russian tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers, and sophisticated air-defense systems into the Ukraine as an “incursion” and not an “invasion”. This played right into Vladimir Putin’s hands, as he sought to confuse the issue and hide the fact that an outright military invasion had occurred and was continuing.

The pacifists and appeasers in NATO and the EU have displayed a similar diffidence in avoiding the term “invasion”, whether due to Obama’s leadership on verbal formulations or not.

An “incursion” might be allowed to stand, as in Georgia. Still, it is hard to see how the seizure of the Crimea and its annexation could be considered a mere “incursion”. It may be that, for now, the pacifists and appeasers who lead the West are simply unable to think about the Crimea.

Finally, mention must be made of Obama’s careful phraseology in stating that if Putin continues on this or that course of action, he and Russia will pay additional “costs”.

This way of looking at the world can be found in Obama’s 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance sppech where, while reserving to himself the right to use force whenever necessay to protect America, he stated that the rules of the road governing the use of force should be followed because it is in the interests of national leaders to do so.

There is no moral imperative contained in his formulations, then or now.

Obama’s leadership in verbal formulations is reflected in the adoption by other NATO and EU leaders of this terminology of “additional costs”.

At times it seems like Obama is stating–matter-of-factly–to an armed burglar in his house, who has already killed one of his children and threatens to rape his wife, that the intruder should desist or else he will have to pay “additional costs”. Lest this example sound too extreme, one should recall that some 3,000 people have killed in the fighting in the eastern Ukraine.

The language of imposing “additional costs” on the aggrssor Putin also has a more pervasive impact on how Obama and other decision makers think about what is going on in the Ukraine. It reveals that Obama, and others who adopt this terminology, have fallen victim to the “Rational Actor Fallacy”, which results from thinking within a “Rational Actor” or “Analytic” paradigm in which all government actions are viewed as the product of a rational calculus by a single, unitary rational mind or its equivalent. This paradigm is manifestly inadequare, and leads to making false assumptions about the causes and motivations of state behavior.

The significance of Obama’s focusing on the choice of words and managing the foreign policy narrative of his administration is that it leads to fuzzy and confused thinking, which can mask the presence of very grave threats to the national security of the United States, NATO members, and other states.

Russia has “invaded” the eastern Ukraine by military force in violation of the prohibition of the threat or use of force contained in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter.

It did so in the Crimea. It has done so now in the eastern Ukraine. Its forces remain in the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine in open and flagrant violation of that bedrock principle of the U.N. Charter and international law.

That is the reality we face, and the reality we must clearly understand, without obfuscations with words, if we are to muster the courage to take effective action to reverse the situation, and to reaffirm and reestablish observance of the most fundamental norm in the U.N. Charter and international law.

The words you choose affect the way you think, as George Orwell explained in 1946. Words which are not connected to actions, as Theodore Roosevel explained in 1907 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech (delivered in 1912), are meangingless, or worse.

To avoid floundering in a phantasmagoric world of visions that lead to lunging at shadows, or sitting immobile when a bear is coming at your throat, Obama and other leaders need to use real words to describe the realities which they see, and the actual and very real threats to which they must respond.


(1) Andrew Higgins, “On Ukraine, the West Sidesteps a Fraught Term,” September 4, 2014.

(2) “Russian “Invasion” or Incursion” in Ukraine? Obama and the primacy of words over actions,” The Trenchant Observer, August 28, 2014.

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

(4) “The smartest person in the room, and the Afghanistan policy review,” The Trenchant Observer, October 24, 2010.

(5) The Daily Star: “The “Rational Actor” Fallacy and Stopping Syria’s Atrocities—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #8 (March 9) The Trenchant Observer, March 9, 2012.

The Trenchant Observer

The EU and NATO falter in stopping Putin; Strategy and action to contain an existential threat are urgently required

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Draft — Check back for updates

Latst News and Opinion


(1) Julia Smirnova, “Putin will plötzlich Frieden in der Ukraine; Kremlchef gibt vor, den Konflikt beenden zu wollen; Doch sein Plan ist ein fauler Deal,” Die Welt, 4. September 2014 (Die Welt Kompakt).

(2) Julian Hans (Korrespondent der Süddeutschen Zeitung in Moskau / Kommentar) “Krieg in der Ukraine: Putin will nicht Frieden, sondern Kiews Kapitulation,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 5. September 2014 (07:30 Uhr).

Petro Poroschenko will dem Sieben-Punkte-Plan Moskaus nun doch zustimmen. Das ist ein bitteres Eingeständnis des ukrainischen Präsidenten: Gegen russische Truppen kann die Ukraine nicht gewinnen.


1. Russian President Vladimir Putin knows the pacifist leaders of the West quite well and has, quite predictably, given them a thread to hang their hopes on and an excuse for not adopting really harsh sanctions against Russia this week.

The U.S. and the EU threatened in early August to impose such sanctions if Putin continued his support of his puppet “separatists” in the Donbass or sent regular Russian troops into the Ukraine.

2. He has done both of these things, and continues to do so. Russian forces are fighting Ukranian soldiers at this very moment in the Donbass and beyond. There exists inconrovertible proof of their invasion and fighting.

Putin is telling bald-faced lies when he denies these facts.

3. The pacifists and appeasers who lead the biggest countries of “Old Europe” within the EU, especially Germany but also France and England, oppose really strong further sanctions against Russia.

The socialists now hold key positions in Europe with enough influence to slow or derail the momentum for tougher sanctions.

They include German SPD Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (former chief of staff of former SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Schroeder is Putin’s business partner in the Nordstream gas pipeline project, such a good friend he traveled to St. Petersburg to celebrate his 70th birtday with Vladimir, and one of the leading Putin apologists in Germany.

They now also include the new (and inexperienced) socialist EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, pushed through by Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi (a rising socialist star) in a deal for top EU positions that had nothing to do with foreign policy.

One of her first statements after her selection was that there was “no military solution” to the Ukrainian conflict (except, of course, Putin’s military solution produced by his second invasion of the Ukraine).

Third, they include the former German SPD politician and recently re-elected President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. He was quoted recently as saying he was opposed to the imposition of any further sanctions against Russia, as follows:

Sanktionen ausgesprochen, um eine weitere Eskalation des Konflikts zu vermeiden. Der Gesprächsfaden mit Russland dürfe “gerade in Krisenzeiten nicht reißen”, sagte der SPD-Politiker der “Hannoverschen Allgemeinen Zeitung”. “Was wir jetzt brauchen, ist kein Säbelrasseln, sondern beharrliche Diplomatie”, sagte Schulz. Europa habe bereits Sanktionen beschlossen, die die russische Wirtschaft hart träfen.

–”Ukraine-Krise: USA bereiten neue Sanktionen gegen Putin vor,” Der Spiegel, 4. september 2014 (20:28 Uhr).

4. The fundamental problem is that Europe’s most influential leaders, such as CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel and her SPD foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, have pacifism and appeasement vis-a-vis Russia in their DNA.

Europe’s pacifist leaders, like the U.S. pacifist president Barack Obama, will contemplate the limited use of force against ISIS or in Afghanistan, but can’t imagine it being necessary to contain Russia.

The result is appeasement of Putin by pacifist leaders lacking any sense of history, strategy, or their own responsibilities before history. Nor do they have any understanding of the central role of international law and institutions in organizing international society, and the particular importance of the prohibition of the threat or use of force contained in Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter.

5. So, they are willing to leave the Ukraine and Petro Poroshenko to face Putin alone, as the mighty Russian army is pummeling his troops in its ongoing invasion of his country.

6. Putin has offered him a “ceasefire” which amounts to a diktat for capitulation. Most of the Western leaders who are leaving him to face the Russian army on his own probably haven’t read it or fully understand its implications.

Signing the “ceasefire” agreement with Putin, if it ever comes to implementation, is likely to spell an end to Poroshenko’s hopes to build a political base in the upcoming Ukrainian elections for parliament in October.

He is handicapped to begin with, without a party. Prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk signalled his strong opposition to the ceasefire and that of his party, that of Iulia Timoshenko.

Poor Poroshenko. He begged for strong support and real military assistance from the NATO countries for months, but it has not been forthcoming.

He and the Ukraine have been left to face the Russian Bear, in all of its military might, on their own.

So we should not be surprised that he has agreed in principle to a ceasefire.  What was his alternative?

We don’t really know how Putin got him to agree to a ceasefire.

Not to be excluded from consideration is the possibility that Putin may have reminded him of what has happened to other politicians in the past, such as Viktor Yushchenko in 2004, who almost died from poisoning but survived to become president. In London, Alexander Litvinenko was not so fortunate, succumbing to polonium poisoning.

7. Poroshenko may be saved yet, however, by Putin’s ambitions and duplicity.

Whereas once Putin might have been content with a “frozen conflict” in the Ukraine that would keep it out of NATO and probably the EU, now that the Europeans have been diverted from the imposition of cutting sanctions–such as exclusion from the Western financial system or the SWIFT system of international funds transfers–bigger goals may have come into sight as Russia’s army is on the march and meeting little opposition.

Putin has achieved all of the above at neglible cost to his wealth or grip on power.

He may now decide to continue his quest for a land corridor connecting the Crimea with Russia proper. The invasion and advance toward Meriupol suggests he is thinking of that.

And later, if he conducts one or more stealth invasions in the Baltics to protect the Russian minorities there, he may be able to bring all of NATO crashing down. Even German Defense Minister van der Leyden has been quoted as saying, in an unguarded moment, that if such an invasion were to occur, NATO would be “dead”.

The defeat of NATO would be a historic triumph for Russia, and Vladimir Putin, after the humiliation of the dismemberment of Greater Russia in 1989.

8. To counter the threat from Putin and Russia, the EU, NATO and the U.S. should be thinking strategically, and devising plans to contain Russia and its nationalistic and irredentist ambitions, by military means if necessary.

Russia, so long as it is led by Putin or someone like him, represents an existential threat to NATO, the U.S. and the European Union.

9. it should be evident that Putin is full of propaganda and lies, has a duplicitous and thuggish nature, and can never be trusted.

It is as if we were negotiating with Adolf Hitler in 1938, hoping he would act nice if we just put enough effort into our diplomacy and showed sufficient understanding of his demands.

The Trenchant Observer

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

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

For analysis of Putin’s 7-point ceasefire proposal, EU sanctions decisions, and NATO decisions to be taken in the next few days, see

“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,” The Trenchant Observer, September 3, 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.


See Part I here (September 2, 2014).


My “separatists” were kind of on the ropes as the Ukrainian army tightened the noose around Donetsk and Luhansk, after retaking Sloviansk. But then we tricked the Ukraine and NATO with our “humanitarian aid” convoy of trucks, repainted “white” with good foresight and admirable military efficiency, according to our master plan. The white truck convoy brilliantly captured the attention of the international media, for weeks, as I poured tanks, artillery, soldiers and other equipment across the border to bolster my “separatists” by joining them in the fighting.

Our plan to have the separatists call for military intervention to protect “Russians” (i.e., members of the Russian family) ran into a few snags, because as Lavrov pointed out we needed Ukrainians and not Russian intelligence officers to make the appeal for intervention. We got that all straightened out when I ordered “Igor Strelkov” (even my GRU operatives have plausible deniability!) and my other intelligence operatives to resign from their leadership positions among the rebels, turning their positions over to their local deputies.

Actually, this proved to be unnecessary, as the white truck convoy ploy proved so successful I was able to pour thousands of Russian troops across the “border” into the Donbass, with accompanying tanks, artillery, and other equipment, with hardly anyone noticing. Our earlier attacks on the border posts and their supporting command centers was an intelligent part of our plan, even though on this occasion we didn’t couldn’t go through the border crossings because there were too many press and international officials present.

A month later, the EU is still debating what sanctions to impose on us, while NATO has the “quick reaction force” concept to debate at the upcoming summit in Wales. They need a “quick reaction force because they are afraid to violate the 1997 undertakings under the NATO-Russia partnership agreement that prohibit the forward-basing of NATO troops.

Can you believe it? The NATO countries, and Angela Merkel in particular, are afraid to violate the 1997 agreements by deploying forces permanently in the Baltics! I am a lawyer, and I never cease to be amazed at the legal arguments my German friends can come up with when they don’t want to do something for other reasons. What are the other reasons? They are afraid of me! They are afraid they might anger or antagonize me!

I could have Berlin surrounded by Russian troops, and they would still be debating the legal technicalities of the Partnership Agreement, and whether it permitted them to respond with force. They are really incredibly stupid! Or incredible cowards, which gives me the same result.

This week the EU and NATO summits are considering what steps to take against Russia for our “invasion” of the Ukraine, despite my repeated explanations that there are no Russian soldiers in that country.

NATO members will congratulate themselves for adopting the rapid deployment force plan — without violating the 1997 Partnership Agreement! Can you believe it?

Once NATO has taken that action, it’s not likely to take any more decisions any time soon. Or maybe NATO will authorize the sending of “non-lethal” military aid to the Ukrainian military, such as personal armor, Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s), and finally, if they are really bold, socks!

They may debate whether to fly the MRE’s in, or send them by commercial truck in order not to anger me as they did a few months ago. By truck!

Of course, the EU will probably adopt some so-called “third stage” sanctions (Oh! how they love to organize everything, even their own thinking, into little boxes!). I can’t remember how many times they’ve huffed and puffed and threatened to blow my house down if I didn’t do what they said by a deadline of a month, or a week, and then they let the deadline pass and did nothing.

I am working hard with Lavrov to limit the nature and reach of the new sanctions.

We’ve floated the idea of a settlement with a new referendum in the eastern Ukraine under U.N. auspices, in Minsk, I think it was. Remember the promises al-Assad made under the U.N. Security Council resolutions and Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan? Lavrov did a good job of leading the West around by the nose with that 6-point plan, with Kofi Annan’s endless willingness to help find a diplomatic solution.

Last night I had a long chat with Petro Poroshenko on the phone, away from his staff, and enticed him with the idea of a “ceasefire” which would stop the fighting, and the killing of Ukrainian soldiers who after making contact with the Russian army are on the verge of being routed. We published the “7-point ceasefire plan” today, and after all the confusion we ended up looking good.

We can distract them from focusing on the severe sanctions some of them want to impose with our “peace plan” or “7-point ceasefire plan”, which in a week will have served its purpose. If they accept it, and hand us a victory, I’ll need to think about accepting the victory in view of our longer-term plans for the Ukraine.

Whatever happens, these proposals are useful in making EU leaders have second thoughts about adopting harsh economic sanctions. Maybe my peace proposals won’t avoid sanctions altogether, but they may help dilute the severity of those that are adopted. And, of course, it makes me look magnanimous to my domestic television audience.

At the same time, I have threatened to take Kiev in two weeks by military force, in a plausibly deniable sort of way, so that EU leaders will have further arguments for not imposing drastic sanctions now. They can keep these sanctions in reserve, in order to “deter” me from taking Kiev!

Can you believe how gullible and what pacifists and appeasers they are! They will grasp at any straw to avoid taking really strong actions against Russia that could hurt their own business and trade relationships with this giant market, not to mention their energy needs for Russian gas.

Big business understands this, and will lobby hard in the U.S. and in Germany and other EU countries against taking strong measures.

Finally, of course, we have the nuclear threat to make our opponents in the West think twice before taking me on. We have “gamed” all kinds of nuclear show-downs with Barack Obama, and in almost every scenario he folds and we win. I knew this intuitively when I saw him flinch in Syria after al-Assad used chemical weapons at Ghouta in August 2013. We saw that when his “red line” was crossed he didn’t have the “stomach” for a confrontation. He didn’t even have the guts to pull the trigger against al-Assad’s military, despite his overwhelming military advantage.

He doesn’t have the “cojones” to face me down in a nuclear show-down, as Madeleine Albright would say.

If he wouldn’t confront al-Assad militarily, what are the chances that he would risk a nuclear war in a confrontation with me? I and Medvedev and Lavrov have dropped a number of not so subtle hints that confrontation could lead to a nuclear conflict. But Obama hasn’t even responded. He pretends that he doesn’t hear such references, which makes me even more certain that we would have nothing to fear from him if things in the Ukraine were to escalate sharply.

Looking at the situation as a whole, the main thing is that the West has helped me consolidate my grip on power in Russia. There will be no repeat of the demonstrations in Moscow a couple of years ago. The press and television are either under my control or cowed, and I can pick off individual opponents one by one. I hope the beating up of the Duma representative who went to the grave of the boy who was killed in the Ukraine will serve as a clear warning to all. If that doesn’t work, we have stronger measures that can be taken.

Let’s wait and see what happens. The one thing that is certain is that the West will provide us with further opportunities to secure our historic strategic objectives, at little or no cost.

You know, I could take Kiev in two weeks if I wanted to. Maybe I should think some more about that.

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Updated September 4, 2014

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Unfortunately, they are woefully inadequate to the task.

The Trenchant Observer

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

Tuesday, September 2nd, 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.


Ha! The EU has elected Frencesca Mogherini from Italy to be its the leader of the EU’s foreign policy! She’ll be a lot easier to handle than Radislav Sikorski of Poland would have been. We have strong financial and energy ties to Italy, and she’s a Socialist to boot, the party in Europe which is already predisposed to accepting whatever Russia does. Sergey Lavrov will be able to lead her by the nose and run circles around her.

The EU’s foreign policy! What a joke! If its member countries were a single individual, he would take two weeks to decise whether to tie his shoelaces before going out!

Many leaders in Europe understand that it is more important to maintain econommic relations with Russia and access to its markets, than to impose further serious sanctions on Russia.

They will temporize, and decide on some half-measures which will make them feel good but which we’ll be able to absorb. The new sanctions could cause some economic disruptions in the Russian Federation, but they will have no effect on my grip on power. On the contrary, they will make me even more popular. I am more popular now than I have ever been!

So, NATO may create a “rapid reaction force” of some 4,000 soldiers that could deploy to the Baltics or Poland to defend against any Russian military intervention.

Can you believe it! They think that by flying in 4,000 men to pick up “pre-positioned” equipment and supplies in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania they could slow the advance of the Russian army!

This is not Afghanistan and we are not the Taliban! I could put 80,000 troops on the border with Estonia, and take Tallinn before NATO’s so-called “quick reaction force” could find their pre-positioned equipment and get organized to move out of their bases.

And, of course, NATO consists of 28 independent states with 28 armies. It’s not like they are capable of responding to my new form of “stealth warfare” in 48 hours. They will have divisions among themselves on what to do, if anything. My friends in Germany, such as Gerhard Schroeder and his protegé Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will insist or exploring all diplomatic options before taking any action.

I can provide them with many new diplomatic options which they can argue over, and which will help them to avoid taking hard decisions.

Look how vigorously and quickly NATO took decisions and acted militarily in Libya! They were issuing press releases celebrating the fact that their warplanes had taken out five or six armored personnel carriers and jeeps with machine guns on the back! It took them forever to take down a very weak tin-pot dictator.

Look how Sergey Lavrov and I played them for fools in Syria. Do they remember the “Friends of Syria” group, which could never get its act together? Or how Obama froze at the moment of pulling the trigger on military action against Syria after al-Assad crossed his “red line” on chemical weapons? The chemical weapons elimination deal was brilliant, leading the West to abandon the rebels and undercut their Allies in the Gulf, while solidifying al-Assad’s permanent hold on power.

They were worried about whether or not to supply “non-lethal” military aid to the Syrian rebels!

They can rest assured that the weapons I supplied to al-Assad were very lethal indeed, and were used to good effect. So have been the weapons we have sent into the Eastern Ukraine along with our “volunteers”.

What a great story bwe had! Even those who were captured inside the Ukraine had “just gotten lost”, or were army troops “on vacation” acting as volunteers. While the-West didn’t believe that propaganda, it gave me some “plausible deniability” for a few days, at least on the Russian television networks I control–where I am sure it also produced some big smiles.

It is all too good to be true! I never imagined that they would not react to my invasion and annexation of the Crimea. But hey, the road was open and we took it. The jokes I and my firends made after their first and second rounds of “sanctions” were hilarious! I should write a book full of those jokes.

The “stage 3″ or third-stage “sectoral” sanctions imposed on July 31 hurt a little, but it’s a small price to pay for restoring the Russian Motherland to its rightful place in history. While these measurs may have hurt some of my business buddies and government officials, who can always vacation in Brazil, Hong Kong or South Africa, and India which is quite close, they didn’t hurt me.

Imagine the leaders in the West conjuring up the possibily that the individuals they sanctioned could pressure me! I could replace any of them in an instant, and there would be 100 highly-quallified applicants for each position.

(To be continued. In Part II, we hear Putin’s thoughts on the EU’s decisions on further sanctions and on NATO’s decisions to respond to Russian actions in the Donbass).

The Trenchant Observer