Europe’s shame: EU response to Russian war crimes in Aleppo and Syria


The leaders of the EU have reached their decision on how to respond to Russian war crimes in Aleppo and northern Syria.

They are adopting additional economic sanction against …


The sanctions? Placing the names of 10 al-Assad associates on the sanctions list.


Russland bestreitet Beteiligung an Bombardierung einer Schule
Russland weist Vorwürfe zurück, an einem Luftangriff auf eine syrische Schule beteiligt gewesen zu sein; Die EU verhängt Sanktionen gegen zehn Assad-Vertraute, Die Zeit, 27. Oktober 2016, (16:40 Uhr). Quelle: ZEIT ONLINE, AFP, dpa.

This action is utterly disproportionate to the war crimes committed by bombing civilian targets in Aleppo and elsewhere, including hospitals and humanitarian aid convoys.

It will go down in history as one of the most shameful moments in the history of EU foreign policy decisions.

As for the Russians, they can only be delighted at the weakness of the West, which simply confirms Putin’s beliefs and emboldens him to commit further atrocities.


Marc Sem, “Face au Kremlin, l’impuissance occidentale en Syrie; Même si la Russie est diplomatiquement isolée, Moscou apparaît comme le maître du jeu dans le conflit syrien. D’autant que les Occidentaux semblent, au-delà des mots, bien impuissants,” Le Monde, le 22 Octobre 2016 (à 11h33).

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Of course the Russians deny any involvement in the bombing of a school Wednesday in Haas in Idlib Province. As if they would not be equally responsible, and legally responsible, if the attacks were carried out by Syrian airplanes!

We know the Russian policy of propaganda and lies.

We are, collectively, judging from our actions and responses, stupid.

But we are not so stupid as to believe they were not involved in the bombing of the school in Haas, either directly or as accomplices through their support of the Syrian air force.

Meanwhile, in America, President Obama is content to block any action that might really help the rebels in Syria.

Sanctions against the Russians for their war crimes in Aleppo?

There is no evidence that such an option has been seriously considered by President Obama. He has for years caved into big business interests which demanded the U.S. not adopt economic sanctions against Russia that were not also adopted by the EU. By accepting that demand and adopting that policy stance, Obama long ago ceded U.S. leadership on economic sanctions.


“American big business votes for appeasement with Russia; Interview with Prime Minister Taavi Roivas of Estonia,” The Trenchant Observer, June 24, 2014.

For both Europe and the United States, their total non-response to the Russian war crimes being committed in Aleppo and Syria marks a new low in their abject appeasement of Vladimir Putin.

Does it matter? Do war and peace matter?

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an 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. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), 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, The Observer 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. The Observer 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.), 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, The Observer 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 the best articles that have appeared in the blog.