Ukraine Crisis, February 19, 2022: Putin’s advisers and advice; Russia’s pretexts for war reminiscent of Hitler in August, 1939; Munich Security Conference and Zelensky’s demands for NATO membership and sanctions now; NATO confirms it expects a full Russian attack on Ukraine

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“Chinese foreign minister Yang Yi, who video-entered his speech to the Munich Security Conference, said, ‘Sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of every country should be protected and respected. This is one of the basic norms of international relations.’ Ukraine is no exception here, he stressed.

Recent articles and commentary


1) Mark Galeotti, “Vladimir Putin would be mad to invade Ukraine – but he might just do it; What looks disastrously self-destructive to outsiders may seem logical – even necessary – to the Russian president,” The Telegraph, February 19, 2022 (2:30 p.m.);

2) Roland Oliphant, “Watch: Russia tests hypersonic and ballistic missiles in major nuclear drills
Exercises involving planes, submarines and ground launchers undertaken amid fears of an imminent invasion of Ukraine,” The Telegraph, February 19, 2022 (5:34 p.m.);

Stern reports that the Tripartite Contact Group under the CSCE was unable to meet, following a convocation of a meeting, because “some participants linked their attendance to certain political preconditions.” This was the second cancellation in two days Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov made clear in a statement Saturdaythat Russian representatives “refused to participate” in the meeting.

4) Anton Troianovski,”In Ukraine Crisis, the Looming Threat of a New Cold War; If he invades, President Vladimir V. Putin is inviting a new global struggle with the West. He should think about how the last one ended, analysts say.” New York Times. February 19, 2022 (10:13 a.m. ET);

5) Andrea Rizzi y Elena G. Sevillano, “EE UU advierte de que reforzará el flanco este de la OTAN si Rusia vuelve a atacar Ucrania; Ursula von der Leyen anuncia en Múnich que la UE está preparada para afrontar un eventual corte abrupto del suministro de gas por parte del Kremlin,” El País, el 19 de febrero 2022 (15:34 h, actualizado a las 17:12 UTC).

6) Maxim Kireev (Analyse), “Selenskyjs Abrechnung mit dem Westen; Der ukrainische Präsident nutzt die Münchner Sicherheitskonferenz für einen wütenden Appell in Richtung der westlichen Partner – und erhebt zwei konkrete Forderungen, die Zeit, den 19. February 2022 (21:16 Uhr).

7) Alfred Hackensberger (Korrespondent, Kiew), “‘Jeder hier fühlt die akute Bedrohung,'” Die Welt, den 19. Februar 2022.

Hackensberger reports that the monitoring group of the OSCE announced Saturday morning that there had been more than 1500 violations of the ceasefire.

8) Clara Ott, “Nato erwartet ‘vollständigen Angriff’ Russlands – Weitere Explosionen in der Ostukraine,” Die Welt, den 20. February 2022 (01:20 Uhr).

9) “Ukraine: China surprises Putin with stop sign,” News in 24, February 19, 2022 (around 9:00 GMT).

The Chinese foreign minister made the following statement at the Munich Security Council today:

Yang Yi, who video-entered his speech, said, “Sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of every country should be protected and respected. This is one of the basic norms of international relations.” Ukraine is no exception here, he stressed.

This statement is not surprising in its content. It underlines the fact that China has traditionally supported basic norms of international law and the U.N. Charter in principle. It disputes it is in violation of international law despite the 2016 arbitration decision under the of the Sea Convention holding that its claims have no basis in international law, and make the argument that Taiwan is part of China/ It disputes the findings of humann rights violations in Xinjiang province. The important thing is that it supports the basic norms of the U.N> Charter, in principle, as this statement makes clear.

One of the regrettable things about Blinken’s intervention at the Security Council meeting on February 17 was that he failed to make the strong legal case against Russia that was available to be made, and which could be useful in persuading other countries, especially China, to support the basic principles of the U.N. Charter and international law which Putin is violating.

The United States and other law-abiding nations in the coalition opposing Russian aggression should be lobbying China very hard to state its position even more loudly, and to intervene with Putin to persuade him to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis and withdraw his troops from regions bordering Ukraine.

This may be one of the last things the allied coalition can do to dissuade Putin from launching an invasion of Ukraine. Other steps, which we have urged before, include announcing that Russia will be expelled from the SWIFT international payments system if it invades Ukraine, and announcements by NATO and other countries that if Putin invades Ukraine, they will view the situation as it evolves, and will take all appropriate measures in response, including the use of force if deemed necessary.

Finally, the U.S. and the EU should begin imposing graduated sanctions now, for Putin’s violation of the U.N. Charter prohibition against the threat of using force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, including Ukraine.

The Trenchant Observer