Posts Tagged ‘Nations Unies’

OSCE report details serious human rights violations against pro-Kiev Ukrainians in the Crimea and the eastern Ukraine

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has published a report based on the work and findings of its Observer Missions in the Ukraine from March 6 to April 17.



The text of the OSCE report is found here.

For news accounts describing the report, see:

(1) OSCE, Press Release, “OSCE/ODIHR and HCNM release report by Human Rights Assessment Mission in Ukraine,” WARSAW / THE HAGUE 12 May 2014.

The ODIHR section of the report identifies a significant number of serious human rights violations, including murder and physical assaults, as well as cases of intimidation and enforced disappearances. The victims of these were primarily pro-Maidan activists and journalists, and those in Crimea also included Ukrainian military personnel and members of the Crimean Tatar community.

(2) Reinhard Veser, “Ostukraine; OSZE dokumentiert Menschenrechtsverletzungen,” Frankfurte Allgemeine, 13. Mai 2014.

Nach der Annexion der Krim sind ethnische Ukrainer und Tataren dort wachsendem Druck ausgesetzt. In der Ukraine wurden vor allem Anhänger der Demokratiebewegung Opfer von Gewalt. Dies geht aus einem Bericht der OSZE hervor.

The findings of the report provide a detailed, fact-based rebuttal to lies and distortions of the Russian propaganda machine, which has smothered the Crimea and the Ukraine with its falsehoods while Russian special operations forces and their agents cut off access to national Ukrainian television stations by force and intimidation wherever they could.

See also,

Office of the United Nations, High Commissioner for Human Rights, “Report on the human rights situation in Ukraine, 15 April 2014.

Vladimir Putin’s lies, and those of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, stand starkly revealed by the findings in the OSCE report.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and German Chancellor Angela Merkel deserve great credit for their dogged persistance in getting the OSCE observers to the Ukraine, with an authorization that included the assent of the Russian Federation.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Observateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

Historical context for current Russian aggression in the Ukriane; The sham “referendum” on May 11, 2014 in the eastern Ukraine

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Russian aggression in the Ukraine: The historical context

For a bracing corrective to the Russian propaganda supporting Russian aggression in the Ukraine, see:

Timothy Snyder, “The Battle in Ukraine Means Everything; Fascism returns to the continent it once destroyed,” New Republic, May 11, 2012.

Timothy Snyder is Housum Professor of History at Yale University. He is the author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. This article is a revised version of an article which appeared in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper.

With news reporting on and from the Ukraine which often is seemingly devoid of historical awareness, or the ability to describe what is really going on in context, Snyder reminds us of who the Soviet Union and Russia were and are, and of Russia’s treacherous attempt now to remake the map of the Ukraine, and Europe, through the illegal use of military force and the annexation of conquered territories.

The sham “referendum” held on May 11, 2014 in the eastern Ukraine

Reporters describe numbers as “election results” of a so-called referendum on greater autonomy in the eastern Ukraine, held on May 14, 2014, which has been organized by Russian invading special operations forces and those who they have empowered and whose actions they still control.


Florian Hassel, “Igor Strelkow, Kommandeur in der Ostukraine; Der Mann hinter der Schreckensherrschaft,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12. Mai 2014 (15:06).

“Sein Erfolgskonzept ist “das rechtzeitige Ausschalten einiger Anführer des Gegners bewusst auch außerhalb legaler Methoden”: Oberst Igor Strelkow war schon im Februar auf der Krim, derzeit kommandiert er die Separatisten in der Ostukraine. Wer ist der Mann?”

See also:

Florian Hassel (Donezk), “Konflikt in der Ukraine: Putins Platzhalter im Osten,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 12. Mai 2013 (19:02).

“Die Schlüsselfiguren der Separatisten in Donezk, Slawjansk und Lugansk sind aus dem politischen Nichts aufgetaucht. Die meisten haben eine zweifelhafte Vergangenheit – aber das unbedingte Vertrauen der russischen Führung.”

Putin’s public call for the referendum to not be held can only be viewed as one further example of his “double game”, yet another treacherous and duplicitous act aimed at confusing and dividing the West and the nations of the EU in order to prevent them from adopting stronger sanctions against Russia for its ongoing aggression in the Ukraine.

Major examples of Putin’s “double game” include Russia’s agreement to the April 17 Statement (Agreement) in Geneva calling for separatists in the eastern Ukriane to lay down their weapons and vacate public buildings they had seized by force, and his repeated statements to Angela Merkel and others that Russian troops were withdrawing from the Ukrianian border when nothing could be further than the truth.

No Western leader should give credence to anything Vladimir Putin or Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says, in view of their undisputed record of duplicity.

As for the refendum itself, the following observations are in order:

There was no legally constituted electoral commission.  There were no electoral rolls used to control who voted.  There was no electoral body to which to appeal charges of corruption.  There was no presence at voting tables of different parties.  There were no independent international observers. 

There was no mechanism to ensure the “results” announced by “separatists” (who gained their de facto positions through Russian aggression and the use of force) bear any resemblance to the number of ballots actually cast in favor of the proposal on the referendum.

There was no opportunity for opponents of a “yes” vote to be heard in the media, and those who might have spoken out for a “no” vote reported that they were subject to great intimidation and fear. A number of politicians who opposed the “separatists” were assassinated.

See David Blair (Donetsk) and Roland Oliphant,”The ‘disappeared’ whose voices will be silent in vote on self-rule in Ukraine’s east; Pro-Russian separatists continue to hold a number of prisoners against their will, in a campaign against dissent,” The Telegraph, May 10, 2014 (7:18PM BST).

The question on the ballot was essentially so ambiguous as to be meaningless.

The so-called referendum failed to meet the lowest standards of even the most blatantly corrupt of Soviet and Russian sham elections.

Why Western news media would give any weight to referendum “results” secured under these conditions defies understanding.

The real story was about these factors which rendered the “results” meaningless. But by reporting the numbers again and again, Western media helped give credence to the erroneous belief that the election results had any significance at all, other than to check the box in Vladimir Putin’s step-by-step stretegy in his war of aggression against the Ukraine.

The under-reported real story about the May 11 “referendum”

There is a real story about the gross violations of internationally protected human rights that are underway in the eastern Ukraine, including the right to political participation and free and independent elections, the rights to freedom of the press and freedom of speech, and the right to public order in which the physical integrity of each human being is protected from violation by others, including the rights which protect individuals from the depredations of armed thugs acting in concert with foreign special operations forces who have invaded the country.

The story in the eastern Ukraine is about these human rights violations, and Russian involvement, and not merely about the various steps of Putin’s plan of aggression aimed at subversion of the rights of Ukrainian citizens to the political independence, territorial integrity, and sovereignty of their country.

The Trenchant Observer

Der Scharfsinniger Beobachter
L’Observateur Incisif
El Observador Incisivo

Ukraine: Latest news and opinion (with links to May 2 Security Council meeting, and to text of April 17 Geneva agreement)

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

See below Le Monde’s dispatch on the latest developments in Sloviansk, and Torsten Krauel’s commentary on the real stakes in the Ukraine — no less than the fruits of victory in World War II and the war aims of Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Harry Truman — published in Die Welt today.

Benoît Vitkine (Sloviansk, envoyé spécial), “Ukraine: dans Sloviansk, ville assiégée,” Le Monde, le 3 Mai 2014 à 02h17 (Mis à jour à 03h16)

Torsten Krauel, “Zerschlagung der Ukraine wäre das Ende der UN,” Die Welt, 2. Mai 2014.

Die Ukraine ist ein unabhängiger UN-Staat, dessen Grenzen Russland feierlich anerkannt hatte. Die Ukraine jetzt gewaltsam zu zerschlagen würde nicht nur bedeuten, die UN-Charta in den Staub zu treten.

The webcast of the May 2, 2014 U.N. Security Council meeting on the Ukraine is found here.

See also:

Stefan Kornelius (Kommentar), “Merkel und Obama: In Ohnmacht vereint,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 3. Mai 2014 (06:36 Uhr).

Eric Guje, “Der Westen ist nicht wehrlos: Ein neuer Geist der Konfrontation,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 2. Mai 2014 (14:03 Uhr).

​Simon Denyer and Anna Nemtsova, Ukraine suffers deadliest day in months; 34 killed in Odessa,” Wasington Post, May 2, 2014 (Updated: Updated: 3:20 PM).

The text of the April 17, 2014 Geneva “Statement” (Agreement) between Russia, the Ukraine, the EU and the U.S. ia found here.

The May 2, 2014 Security Council Meeting and Press Release SC/11377

The Press Release regarding the U.N. Security Council Meeting on May 2, 2014 (U.N. Doc. SC/11377) is found here.

The text of the Press Release is reproduced below.

The webcast of the May 2, 2014 Security Council meeting is found here.

The Trenchant Observer


May 2, 2014

Security Council
7167th Meeting* (AM)



The situation in parts of eastern and southern Ukraine had seen “further severe deterioration”, with fresh events — including the downing of two helicopters — threatening to destabilize the country and the region, the Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs told the Security Council today.

Jeffrey Feltman, briefing the Council three days after his most recent update, said that in more than a dozen cities in Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk, armed groups had taken over a growing number of buildings. The situation in the eastern city of Slovyansk, occupied by armed insurgents since 12 April, was of most immediate concern.

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence, he said, two helicopters had been shot down overnight during operations by the authorities, with at least one pilot killed. Other casualties had been reported on both sides. In Donetsk Oblast and in the city itself, self-declared separatists had seized the regional prosecutor’s office on 1 May. Other reports cited clashes during a pro-unity protest in the southern city of Odessa.

He understood that the President of the Russian Federation had dispatched a special envoy to help free the seven military monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and accompanying Ukrainian staff being held by gunmen in Slovyansk. A diplomatic solution was the only way out of the crisis and all sides must redouble efforts to revive the spirit of compromise shown during the 17 April Geneva talks.

The representative of the Russian Federation said he had called today’s meeting because of the punitive operations being conducted in south-east Ukraine by the Kyiv Government, which was using military helicopters, striking at protestors and entrenching fighters. Unless its criminal misadventures were stopped, dire consequences would be unavoidable. Ukraine’s measures against its own people showed it had no desire to comply with the Geneva Statement.

While the Russian Federation was making efforts to de-escalate the crisis, Ukraine had started full-scale use of military force, annihilating any hope of agreement, he said. Urging an end to outside interference in Ukraine’s affairs, he said that by supporting those who had perpetrated a coup d’état in Kyiv, the United States and the European Union were destroying the path to a peaceful solution.

The representative of Ukraine said his country was committed to implementing the Geneva Statement, noting that free and fair presidential elections on 25 May were a top priority. The Russian Federation had made no effort to implement the Geneva accords. Instead, it supported illegal militants in eastern Ukraine and had created an atmosphere of violence.

He said the counter-terrorist operation, renewed in Slovyansk, sought to isolate militants from civilians in the city. Illegal militants were using heavy weapons against Ukrainian Special Forces, having shot down two helicopters and used the local population as shields. Earlier today, Russian saboteurs had attempted to cross the border. He urged the Russian Federation to stop supporting illegal militants. Russian claims of English-speaking foreigner involvement were “cynical” and “false”, as only Russian saboteurs and mercenaries were involved.

Also speaking in today’s debate were the representatives of France, United Kingdom, United States, Luxembourg, Argentina, Australia, China, Chad, Lithuania, Nigeria, Jordan, Chile, Rwanda and the Republic of Korea.

The meeting began at 12:03 p.m. and ended at 1:50 p.m.


Meeting this afternoon to consider the situation in Ukraine, members of the Security Council had before them a letter from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation (document S/2014/264) addressed to the Council President. Dated 13 April, it requests a meeting to consider “alarming” developments in Ukraine.


JEFFREY FELTMAN, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, said that since the Council’s last meeting on 29 April, there had been a further, severe deterioration of the situation in parts of eastern and southern Ukraine. Recent developments in those areas threatened a serious further destabilization of the country and the region, as well as Ukraine’s unity. In more than a dozen cities in Donetsk Oblast and Luhansk, an increasing number of buildings were being taken over by armed groups, he said, emphasizing that the situation in the eastern city of Slovyansk, occupied by armed insurgents since 12 April, was of most immediate concern.

According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence, he continued, two helicopters had been shot down overnight during ongoing operations by the authorities, with at least one pilot killed. A number of other casualties had been reported on both sides, but the total could not be verified. The acting Interior Minister had stated that a number of roadblocks had been removed from around the city, but it was understood from the media that tense standoffs continued, at least in parts of the city and around it.

At the same time, he continued, the seven military monitors from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) accompanying Ukrainian military staff and held by gunmen in Slovyansk remained in detention amid repeated calls for their release. To that end, it was understood that the President of the Russian Federation had dispatched a special envoy to help free the hostages, he said, reiterating the Secretary-General’s call to those responsible to release them immediately, unconditionally and unharmed.

The crisis had also escalated in the Donetsk Oblast region and in Donetsk itself, where self-declared separatists had seized the regional prosecutor’s office on 1 May, he said. Other reports stated that the Ukrainian authorities had banned Russian passenger planes from flying to Donetsk and Kharkiv, while still others reported clashes during a pro-unity demonstration in the southern city of Odessa. Reiterating elements of the Secretary-General’s statement today, in which he expressed his grave concern over the situation, he said the escalating violence and reported further loss of life in Slovyansk were a stark reminder of how dangerous the situation had become. A diplomatic solution was the only way out of the crisis and all sides must redouble efforts to revive the spirit of compromise demonstrated during the 17 April Geneva talks, Mr. Feltman stressed, adding that during his meetings in Kyiv and Moscow next week, he would continue to reiterate a message of restraint and an immediate return to dialogue.


VITALY CHURKIN (Russian Federation) said he had called for today’s meeting because of the resumed punitive operations being conducted in south-east Ukraine by the Kyiv Government, which was using military helicopters, striking at protestors and entrenching fighters, leading to casualties. Unless the criminal misadventures of the Kyiv clique were stopped, dire consequences would be unavoidable, he warned, adding that the Ukrainian Government’s criminal measures against its own people showed that it had no desire to comply with the 17 April Joint Geneva Statement. It was now clear that the Kyiv Government’s many declarations in favour of dialogue were nothing less than hypocrisy.

At a time when the Russian Federation was making efforts to de-escalate the crisis, Ukraine had started full-scale use of military force, annihilating any hope of agreement, he continued. On the radio waves, one could hear English-speaking foreigners among those carrying out assaults in Slovyansk. Calling for an end to outside interference in Ukraine’s affairs, he urged the United States to end its double standards, adding that by supporting those who had perpetrated a coup d’état in Kyiv, that country and the European Union were in effect destroying the path to a peaceful solution. He called upon signatories to the Geneva Statement not to commit a fatal error, and on the West to stop its destructive policy concerning Ukraine and halt its operations there. An authentic political dialogue was needed, he emphasized.

GÉRARD ARAUD (France) said that the armed groups involved in progressively taking over cities in eastern Ukraine were being manipulated by Russian forces and refusing to implement the Geneva Statement. Ukraine, which had shown great restraint all along, had now decided to use its army and police against armed groups creating a climate of insecurity, he said, emphasizing that the latter were not spontaneous local demonstrators, who would be incapable of shooting down a helicopter with surface-to-air missiles. The Russian Federation had invoked the 21 February agreement, which it had not endorsed, while waiving the Geneva Agreement, to which it had consented but had made no effort to implement. He described as “comical” the Russian Federation’s accusation blaming the European Union for the violence, emphasizing that the Russian Federation had opened a Pandora’s box and unleashed the demon of nationalism. “We have a pyromaniac situation,” he said, stressing that the Russian Federation must disarm the groups that it had armed, free the OSCE monitors and negotiate with Ukraine.

MARK LYALL GRANT (United Kingdom) said the Russian Federation’s description of events in Ukraine as a punitive military operation against activists was a gross distortion of facts. Ukraine had a duty to uphold the rule of law and to protect its territory, and should carry it out in a proportionate, measured way, he emphasized. Its actions in and around Slovyansk were meant to relieve that city from armed groups sponsored by the Russian Federation who were terrorizing the population. No Council member would allow its towns to be overrun by armed militants, he pointed out, stressing that the Russian Federation’s claims about “peaceful activists” were not credible given the use of sophisticated weapons against Ukrainian forces, including by professionals funded and equipped by the Russian Federation. He urged the Russian Federation to refrain from inflammatory propaganda, throw its full weight behind the 17 April accord and rein in the armed groups that it supported.

SAMANTHA POWER (United States) described as false the Russian Federation’s claims that Ukraine was carrying out a large-scale attack on unarmed civilians, emphasizing that the latter’s actions were intended to contain Russian paramilitaries and protect Ukrainian citizens. Russian-directed agents and paramilitaries were the source of the violence, she stressed. Another falsehood was that the Russian Federation was concerned about instability in the east, while it was itself behind the instability. With Russian troops massing along its border, Ukraine had shown “remarkable, almost unimaginable” restraint, implementing international agreements, refraining from military responses to aggression and committing to direct dialogue with Moscow. Ukraine’s efforts to reclaim its cities were the same as any country would have made in the face of threats, she said, adding that 32 buildings in 17 eastern Ukraine towns were occupied by pro-Russian separatists. The Council had heard the Russian Federation build its case for outright intervention, but there was no evidence that Ukraine had threatened the Russian Federation in any way, she said. Ukraine’s steps to restore order were justified, but the fact that the Russian Federation had chosen to call an emergency Council meeting was another sign that it was trying to replicate the Crimea charade, she said, urging the latter to pull back its troops, stop its campaign of instability, and work to release international observers and journalists.

SYLVIE LUCAS (Luxembourg) expressed concern over the actions of pro-Russian, militant separatists intent on destabilizing Ukraine and preventing it from holding elections on 25 May. Confronted with violations against its sovereignty, Ukrainian authorities had shown restraint. Until Thursday, their response to the illegal seizure of public offices and the growing number of attacks and violence by armed groups against peaceful protests had been moderate. The presence of impartial United Nations and OSCE monitors across Ukraine was vital to establish the facts and put an end to bellicose propaganda. She condemned the taking of OSCE monitors as hostages and called on the pro-separatists to free them as soon as possible.

MARÍA CRISTINA PERCEVAL (Argentina) said that the spirit of compromise reached in Geneva must be restored. Hate speech and incitement to violence had only lead to rising tensions, undermining the international community’s efforts. All actors must work towards constructive diplomacy so the Geneva Statement could be implemented. The Council’s calls for a de-escalation of tensions had not been consistent. “It is not too late. It is still possible to avoid the worst,” she said, calling on the Council to assume its responsibility to maintain international peace and security.

GARY QUINLAN (Australia) said the planned, coordinated destabilization of Ukraine could not happen without external support, as seen with the downing of two helicopters. Armed groups had consolidated control in Donetsk and Kharkiv and had orchestrated violence which had spread to Odessa. The actions of pro-Russian groups were not legitimate protests, but rather calculated, highly provocative actions intended to undermine Ukrainian authority. They made a mockery of what the Russian Federation had committed to in the Geneva agreement. The Ukraine Government was implementing its Geneva obligations and was committed to holding public debate on constitutional change. In response to extreme provocation, Ukrainian authorities had a responsibility to restore public order. It must take measures to ensure security and protect its citizens in its territory. “We are at a very dangerous, manipulated moment,” he said, urging the Russian Federation to implement the Geneva Statement and demonstrate it had no further territorial ambitions in Ukraine.

LIU JIEYI (China), stressing that the situation in parts of eastern and southern Ukraine was of deep concern, urged parties to safeguard ethnic groups, keep calm, exercise restraint and avoid a further deterioration of conditions. A political solution was the only way out of the crisis. Ukraine must consider the full situation and accommodate the aspirations of various regions and ethnic groups in order to achieve a balance. Noting his Government’s efforts towards promoting peace and facilitating negotiations, he expressed hope that the parties would pursue dialogue, implement the agreements reached, start a political settlement process and realize the stability of Ukraine. China would continue to support good offices with the aim of promoting a political settlement.

MAHAMAT ZENE CHERIF (Chad) said that, despite repeated calls for restraint and calm, the situation continued to deteriorate, politically and in terms of security. There was a risk of a war that carried incalculable consequences. While a number of efforts had been made to open the way for dialogue, the results had been far from expectations. Reiterating the call for an immediate halt to combat, he urged non-violence by the authorities and separatists alike, as well as for the release of the seven OSCE observers. The solution must be political, sought in full respect for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. Further, countries with influence should use all means possible to help establish direct dialogue. He also encouraged the Secretary-General to step up efforts to bring about a rapprochement.

RAIMONDA MURMOKAITĖ (Lithuania) said Ukraine could not be blamed for taking steps against those trying to carve it up and parcel it out. It had a right to protect its sovereignty. The Russian Federation so far had not condemned the Syrian regime’s missile and bomb attacks this week in Aleppo or similar previous acts. Today, two Ukrainian helicopters were downed by mobile air defence systems. Militants, not protestors, had opened fire. Had the separatists carried out the Geneva Statement or had the Russian Federation called on the separatists to enter into peace talks with the Ukrainian Government, such attacks, and today’s deadly provocations in Odessa, would not be happening. The Russian Federation continued to blame Ukraine, the only side taking steps to implement the Geneva Statement. She rejected all Russian attempts to validate its intentions or send Russian “peacekeeping” forces to Ukraine. She noted that OSCE observers must be able to carry out their tasks.

U. JOY OGWU (Nigeria) expressed concern over the downing of a military helicopter and the seizure of Slovyansk. All sides must refrain from violence, intimidation and provocative action, and all armed groups must vacate buildings they had seized. Territorial integrity must be respected. The alternative would be “falling dominoes” in Eastern Europe and every region of the world. “The scenario is simply mortifying. It is our collective responsibility to prevent the domino theory from being replayed in our times,” she said.

MAHMOUD DAIFALLAH MAHMOUD HMOUD (Jordan), expressing deep concern over events in Ukraine, called on all hostages held by rebels in Slovyansk to be released, including OSCE monitors. An unfolding mutiny in eastern Ukraine, as rebels seized public and Government buildings and threatened civilians, had contravened both international law and the Geneva agreement. Ukraine had a right to take appropriate measures to retain its unity and sovereignty, as well as uphold the constitutional and legal order. It must work towards a peaceful resolution of the crisis, within international criteria, sparing no effort to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders. He urged implementing the Geneva Statement and exerting pressure on the rebels to end the crisis. Further, all stakeholders should refrain from racist or hate speech, he said, underscoring the importance of respecting Ukrainians’ aspirations, notably by ensuring that elections were held in May.

CRISTIÁN BARROS MELET (Chile), emphasizing that the crisis was quickly entering an unpredictable phase, expressed concern over events in Slovyansk and urged the Council to again call for all means to pursue a peaceful settlement through dialogue. Parties must refrain from acting unilaterally and must support international mediation efforts, he said, condemning the kidnapping of OSCE observers and reiterating the call for their release. It was vital to work in a spirit of compromise, he said, urging the disarmament of armed groups and returning illegally occupied buildings. He reiterated the need to respect Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, supporting both the Secretary-General’s efforts and visit to the Russian Federation by the Under-Secretary-General.

EUGÈNE-RICHARD GASANA (Rwanda) said the situation in Ukraine had escalated. Pro-separatist forces had continued to occupy buildings and they had shot down helicopters. OSCE observers had been detained. He condemned the armed methods used by militants and called for a proportionate response by Ukraine’s armed forces. He called on all Council members to give the Under-Secretary-General the meaningful backing necessary, and noted that only a genuine dialogue by the Ukrainian parties and a strong commitment by those with influence could resolve the crisis. Otherwise, the conflict would become regional or worse, and the Council would continue holding emergency meetings on that matter. “We need here to scale down the rhetoric,” he said.

OH JOON (Republic of Korea) expressed concern over continuing tensions in Ukraine, particularly over the violence in Slovyansk, which had included an attack on a military helicopter. Dialogue among all parties was the only way to achieve a peaceful solution, and he called on all parties to the Geneva Statement to implement it. With elections scheduled for May, it was all the more important to ensure an environment conducive to free and fair elections and without any outside interference. He expressed hope for a transparent, Ukraine-led process.

OLEKSANDR PAVLICHENKO (Ukraine) said his country remained committed to implementing the 17 April Geneva Statement, adding that free and fair presidential elections on 25 May were a top priority. The Russian Federation had made no effort to de-escalate the situation and implement the Geneva Statement, and had instead supported illegal militants in eastern Ukraine and created an atmosphere of violence. Security for all Ukrainians was another top priority, and the purpose of the counter-terrorist operation renewed in Slovyansk was to isolate militants from civilians in the city, he said, adding that its commander required the militants to free all hostages and captured administration buildings, and to stop the violence. Ukrainian authorities were ready to grant amnesty to all militant group members who had not committed serious crimes, he said. Describing the Russian Federation’s claims that English-speaking foreigners were involved in the crisis as “cynical” and “false”, he said only Russian saboteurs and mercenaries were present.

He went on to note that the Russian Federation’s embassy in Kyiv had not been notified about the arrival of Special Presidential Envoy Vladimir Lukin. Nonetheless, Ukraine was prepared to discuss with him practical contributions to resolving problems. Due to the situation in Slovyansk, the National Security and Defence Council had launched a counter-terrorist operation, the active phase of which had been renewed in that city and elsewhere, he said. The operation had taken control of nine terrorist checkpoints in Slovyansk. Illegal militants were using heavy weapons against Ukrainian special forces, and had shot down two helicopters with man-portable air defence systems, killing two people and wounding seven others, he said, adding that they had not hesitated to use the local people as shields. Russian saboteurs had tried to break through the border today but they had been stopped by Ukrainian guards, he said, calling upon the Russian Federation to stop supporting illegal militants and other actions that undermined his country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, including the use of military threat as a form of pressure.

The representative of the Russian Federation took the floor a second time to refute the claim by his counterpart from France that his country had not endorsed the 21 February agreement. On the contrary, it looked forward to implementing the accord and had helped to conclude the 17 April Geneva Statement, which, while simple, would pave the way out of the crisis. People in eastern Ukraine merely wanted their rights guaranteed, he said. Since the signing of the Geneva Statement, no one had taken up weapons, but there had never been a reasonable response from Kyiv. The Council had heard that on 25 May Ukrainian officials would unveil some sort of decentralization process, he said, noting that his Western colleagues seemed to know about all the operations currently being carried out by the Kyiv Government. He asked why the United States did not want OSCE efforts for dialogue, pointing out that the Russian Federation had suggested different formats for dialogue on several occasions during the course of the crisis, and suggested convening a constitutional assembly, while they had said they were not ready to organize such forums. He also denied claims that his country was refusing to implement the Geneva Statement.

The representative of the United States also took the floor again, saying that for the Russian Federation to blame Ukraine for defending its own actions on Ukrainian territory was like the story of the boy who told his mother that a fight between him and another boy had started when the other had hit him back. “We must be clear about cause and effect here,” she emphasized. It was not true that the United States had never called on the Maidan protestors to leave buildings and renounce violence, and that it was exercising double standards. On 10 January, it had condemned the actions of rioters outside Government buildings, and later that month it had condemned targeted attacks against journalists and called on all protestors to refrain from violence and destruction of property. Those were among the many public statements by the United States Government aimed at ending the fighting. The future was more important, she said, asking whether the Russian Federation would publicly urge the separatists to end their siege of public buildings. It had repeatedly taken aim at the so-called illegitimate Government in Kyiv while refusing to acknowledge its failure to embrace the 21 February agreement after it had been negotiated. Furthermore, the Russian Federation would not come out in support of the 25 May elections, she said, stressing that doing so would be best way to ensure that rights were more autonomous in eastern Ukraine.

The representative of the Russian Federation, responding to a question by the Council President about a possible presidential statement from today’s meeting, first addressed comments made by his United States counterpart. He said that what had been heard from the United States, and the way that message had been delivered, showed everyone that it approved of the forceful change of power in Ukraine, which, in the end, did not serve Ukrainian interests. As for a presidential statement, he said it would be good to end today’s meeting with a statement calling for a swift end to violence and serious implementation of the Geneva Statement.

OH JOON (Republic of Korea), Council President, said he would ask the coordinators to take up the matter.

* *** *


* The 7166th Meeting was closed.

New strategy and accompanying military action needed in Syria; Justification under International Law

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

President Barack Obama’s strategy for dealing with Syria has demonstrably failed.

That strategy consisted mainly in looking the other way, providing fitful and ineffectual covert support, and actively blocking the efforts of others to mount some form of military action that might have brought the widespread commission by the al-Assad regime of war crimes and crimes against humanity to a halt. These have now culminated in the use of chemical weapons by al-Assad on a large scale against his own people.

The covert action has had minimal results, involving coordination of the supply of arms by Qatar and Saudi Arabia to the insurgents, apparently with the assistance of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The results of this policy, as long predicted here and by knowledgeable experts, has been a brutal civil war in Syria whose death toll now exceeds 100,000, according to the latest U.N. update.  However, the number is  growing by hundreds if not thousands every week, and likely to be much higher than even this appalling number.

Military action to stop the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the al-Assad regime in Syria has been needed for a long time, but now must be undertaken by the West and allied Arab countries in order to avoid an exploding regional conflict between Shi’a and Sunni militias and regimes, on the one hand, and to prevent Syria from becoming the first chemical weapons battleground since the Iran-Iraq war (1980-1988), if not since World War I, with the concomitant acquisition of chemical WMD by al-Qaeda affiliated and other terrorists groups, on the other.

The options available to the West and the Arab states, following two and a half years of dithering and blocking actions by the Obama administration, are not enviable.

Nonetheless, what is needed is a military and diplomatic strategy that will produce results and outcomes that safeguard the vital interests of the West, the Arab countries, and other civilized nations in the world.

Before considering that strategy, it will be useful to highlight mistakes that have been made and which must not be repeated.

First, the illusion of a negotiated agreement with Bashar al-Assad should be discarded at the outset. Al-Assad has not kept a single agreement with the international community, from the Arab League peace plan of November 2, 2011, to the agreements reached with Kofi Annan regarding the cessation of hostilities in the first half of 2012. Moreover, al-Assad has proven, time and time again, that he is a master of playing off different countries one against the other, with promises of this or that, or negotiations on this or that to get his approval, all coming to naught.

The lesson is clear: The new strategy should not seek al-Assad’s agreement to any kind of peace agreement short of an agreement to hand administration of the country over to a NATO or United Nations Authority under the protection of a NATO-led or United Nations Peacekeeping Force, in a manner similar to the establishment of IFOR under the agreements reached with Slobodan Milosovich of Serbia and the leaders of Bosnia and Croatia by Richard Holbrooke and the United States in Dayton, Ohio on November 21, 1995.

Second, with over a year and a half of experience with the Russians following their and the Chinese veto of a mild U.N. Resolution on February 4, 2012, the West and the Arab states should not waste their efforts on negotiating anything with the Russians in the Security Council which does not include:

1) the immediate authorization of the International Criminal Court to investigate and prosecute the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria; and

2) immediate steps for the implementation of a binding cease-fire in Syria,  which is obligatory on Syria with or without its consent under the terms of Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.

The use of military force should be aimed at securing these objectives, not the agreement of al-Assad to this or that proposal. Above all, no negotiation of the final political and military arrangements should be undertaken before a cease-fire takes effect. The disastrous precedent of Kofi Annan and the U.N. seeking to negotiate elements of the outcome with al-Assad in exchange for his cessation of the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity should not be repeated. Ever.

The military campaign against al-Assad’s government and its ongoing atrocities should be pressed until the commission of these crimes ceases, and a NATO-led or U.N. force and accompanying International Authority for Syria are established and put in place.

The military actions required to achieve the above strategic objectives should be publicly justified under international law, along the lines suggested here in earlier articles, as temporary measures of protection undertaken to protect the population of Syria against the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity and their effects. The justification should be very narrowly tailored to the facts of the Syrian case, as suggested previously here.

On justifications under international law for military intervention in Syria, see the following articles by The Trenchant Observer:

Syrian Options: The White House’s sophomoric understanding of International Law, June 14, 2013.

The U.N. Charter, International Law, and Legal Justifications for Military Intervention in Syria—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #83 (September 1), September 1, 2012.

Continuing massacres in Syria, at Daraya and elsewhere; legal justification for military intervention — Obama’s Debacle in Syria —Update #78 (August 26), August 26, 2012

REPRISE: Humanitarian Intervention in Syria Without Security Council Authorization—Obama’s Debacle in Syria— Update #68 (July 25), July 25, 2012

Military Intervention to establish “no-kill zones” and humanitarian corridors—Syria Update #9 (February 25), February 24, 2012

Military action without clear strategic objectives will not be effective. The sooner the West comes to grip with these harsh realities, the better the outcome will be.

When a strategy has failed, spectacularly, the most important thing is that it not be pursued further, and that it be abandoned as an approach to the solution of the conflict.

Military action is now urgently required. But it should be undertaken as a means for securing the goals of an effective strategy, not just to satisfy the demands of the press or other countries to take some action in response to the massacre of Syrian citizens by the use of chemical weapons on a large scale.

The Trenchant Observer

For previous articles on Syria by The Trenchant Observer, see the Articles on Syria Page, or click here.

Government Terror in Syria—Putin, Al Assad, and Security Council Referral to the ICC

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

The Arab League “deal” with Syria looks increasingly like the African Union peace efforts aimed at blocking Security Council action in Libya. Fortunately, NATO and the international community were not fooled by those maneuvers, and acted decisively in Libya to protect the civilian population “by all necessary measures”.

The current presence of Arab League monitors in Syria, headed by a former Sudanese official whose appointment itself calls into question the objectivity of their mission, compounded by absurd statements about normality when all hell is breaking loose right in their face, underlines the great urgency of the U.N. Security Council assuming–now– a decisive role in bringing the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity by Basar al Assad to a halt.

Syria should be debated in the Security Council, and if the authoritarian Russian government of Mededev-Putin wishes to defend Bashar al Assad’s massacres and use of force against civilians, let them do so publicly. Let Putin run for President of Russia on a record of defending the war criminals who lead Syria.

A resolution should be presented to the Security Council that would give the International Criminal Court a mandate to immediately investigate war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the al Assad government, from the date of the first protests in the spring. This resolution should be brought to a public vote.

The Syrian situation, in which the international community has stood aside while unspeakable crimes are committed by government forces, every day, is throwing the whole region into chaos, as Egyptian government forces’ moves to shut down pro-democracy NGOs on December 29 suggest.

At the very least the International Criminal Court should be given a mandate now, while the Security Council remains seized of the situation in Syria and explores other means to bring the violence in Syria against civilians to a prompt halt.

Let the Russians show their hand in blocking Security Council action, if they have no shame.

President Obama’s leadership is needed. Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and even Iraq are all directly at issue. What is done or not done in Syria will affect developments in each of these countries, and in other countries from Egypt to Yemen.

A repetition of Obama’s debacle of inaction, hesitation and delay in Libya could have disastrous consequences not only in Syria but throughout the region.

It is time for the Security Council to act, now, to give the ICC the mandate discussed above. Everyone should focus on this immediate objective, while preparing for stronger action to force al Assad to halt his terror.

The Trenchant Observer

See also earlier articles by The Trenchant Observer:

“REPRISE: Syria and the Shame of the World,
November 19, 2011 (originally published August 20, 2011)

Repression in Syria, and the spread of universal ideals throughout the world, May 11, 2011

The Struggle for Democracy in Bolivia, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, and Iran, March 3, 2011

Ratko Mladic to join Radovan Karadic in The Hague; Moammar Qaddafi and Bashar al-Assad await similar fates, May 28, 2011