Putin’s Trojan Horse: Military aggressor sends military-style aid convoy to Ukraine as its irregular forces are encircled



(1) Julia Smirnova, “Die Angst vor den weissen Lastwagen ohne Nummernschild,” Die Welt 12. August 2014 (19:33 Uhr).

(2) Stefan Braun, Javier Cáceres und Cathrin Kahlweit, “Russlands Hilfstranport: Geheimnisvoller Konvoi mit unbekannter Ladung, Suddeutsche Zeitung, 12. August 2014 (18:16 Uhr).

“Ist das der Beginn einer russischen Intervention? Oder ein PR-Coup von Präsident Putin? Was auch immer in den 280 Lastwagen steckt, die in Moskau losgeschickt wurden – es wird nicht unkontrolliert zu den notleidenden Menschen in die Ostukraine gelangen.”

(3) “NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Russian military intervention in Ukraine a high probability'” The Trenchant Observer, August 11, 2014.

(4) “Russian invasion of Ukraine viewed as increasingly likely,” The Trenchant Observer, August 10, 2014.

(5) “Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine possibly imminent; Russia lays out “facts” to justify “humanitarian intervention”, masses combat-ready troops on Ukrainian border, The Trenchant Observer, August 6, 2014.

Vladimir Putin has brilliantly deployed Russian troops and irregulars in his ongoing war against the territorial integrity and political independence of the Ukraine, a sovereign and independent European country. These actions, including the invasion and annexation of the Crimea, have constituted flagrant violations of Article 2 paragraph 4 of the U.N. Charter, the cornerstone of the international political and legal order established at the end of World War II, in 1945.

Europe and America have responded to these actions with the pacifism and appeasement that characterized the responses of France and Great Brtiain to Hitler’s acts of lawlessness and aggression, beginning with the militarization of the Rhineland in 1936 (in violation of the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919), soon followed by the forced annexation of Austria in March, 1938, the forced annexation of the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia in October, 1938, the invasion of the rest of Czechoslovakia in March, 1939, and the invasion of Poland in September, 1939.

At this late hour, the West slumbers, still.

Even the “stage 3” sanctions adopted by the EU and the U.S. in late July have had no effect on Putin’s stealth invasion of the eastern Ukraine.

Now the Russian Dictator has devised a new ruse to justify military intervention in the Donbass in order to prevent the defeat of the irregular forces he sent there. He sent these irregular forces into the Ukraine in an effort to in effect seize territory, and either open a land route to supply the Crimea, conquered by military invasion in February, 2014, or at least to freeze the conflict with his forces controlling the Donbass.

The new ruse is a Trojan Horse, which will either bring a Russian (military) presence inside the Ukraine (think of “little green men” in military trucks painted white, without license plates, delivering aid). Or, if the convoy is stopped before entering the country, it will provide a justification to his domestic audience for an overt military invasion of the Ukraine.

Each new development appears to be simply the execution of one more step in Putin’s well-orchestrated plan to prepare for and to invade the eastern Ukraine.

His actions are cunning, as befits a former KGB officer who rose to the preeminent position of authoritarian “Leader” of the Russian Federation.

What can the West do?

Russia is in the grip of xenophobic nationalism and policies of aggression, with the emotions of the population whipped up by Putin’s propaganda machine and control of state television and other media.

The “rational actor fallacy” must be avoided.

Actions must be taken not to change Putin’s calculations of costs and benefits, but rather to pierce the delusional bubble in which he and his countrymen find themselves, and to change the “facts on the ground” with which they must contend.

That will require very forceful actions.

The following actions are urgently recommended:

1. Convoke immediate meetings of the heads of state of NATO and of the EU member countries;

2. Adopt, with immediate effect, a ban on all financing tranactions with Russia, including short-term financing of less than 90-days duration (excluded under the “stage 3” sanctions imposed in July);

3. Extend the bans on defense sector deals and weapons deliveries to include all transactions, including existing contracts (e.g., for French delivery of two Mistral-class warships to Russia);

4. Prepare much stronger sanctions to be imposed automatically if Putin invades the Ukraine, with his Trojan Horse or by any other means.

5. Decide upon and begin sending a large NATO training mission to the Ukraine.

6. Immediately begin arms and weapons systems deliveries to the government in Kiev.

The international political and legal order which has protected the world from all-out major wars since 1945 (surviving both Korea and Vietnam) cannot be given up without a fight.

Is there a fool left who believes Vladimir Putin is acting in good faith?

Is there a fool left who believes anything Vladimir Putin says, or anything any Russian official says?

Russia under Putin will never be able to return to “business as usual” with the West. In view of Putin’s actions since February, this is not even thinkable.

“Containment” of Russia must begin.

It must begin immediately.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

James Rowles
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by James Rowles (aka "The Observer"), an author and international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. Dr. Rowles is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States OAS), in Wasington, D.C., , where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, Dr. Rowles has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. Dr. Rowles speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.=LL.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, Dr. Rowles has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on some the best articles that have appeared in the blog.