Ukraine War, March 7: 2022 (I): Putin appears afraid of oil embargo, softens terms for ceasefire; doubts about Russia’s air campaign and capabilities




1) Robert Mendick and Dominic Nicholls,”Russian aircraft losses in Ukraine ‘unsustainable for more than a fortnight’; Verified images show 11 planes, 11 helicopters and two drones have been shot down since invasion began, including nine at the weekend,” The Telegraph, March 7, 2022 “l(4:15 p.m.);

2) Robert Mendick, Ben Riley-Smith, and Colin Freeman, “Vladimir Putin sets out his key demands to halt Russian invasion of Ukraine; Moscow calls for independence in rebel regions and ban on Kyiv joining Nato or EU, as Kremlin military offensive remains stalled,” The Telegraph, March 7, 2022 (10:05 pm);


Vladimir Putin appears to be afraid of the pending Russian oil and gas embargo, and to have softened his conditions for a ceasefire in an attempt to forestall its adoption by the U.S., Europe, and their allies.

This repeats the pattern in September 2014, when Putin agreed to the Minsk Protocol (Minsk I) in an attempt to forestall the adoption of serious sectorial sections by the EU, whose leaders were meeting at a summit in Normandy, France, following the Russian invasions of the Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine beginning in February 2014.

The Minsk Protocol was signed on September 5, 2014, but the EU sanctions were still adopted, also on September 5, 2014.

Now, with Russian military cities shelling cities in Ukraine, the only thing that can influence Putin is brute force, either economic or military.

It would be a huge mistake for the West to show weakness now, and not push through the oil and gas embargo, by all allied countries.

Potentially of great significance in Putin’s softened terms for a ceasefire is the dropping of his demand for de-nazification in Ukraine. This may mean that he is no longer demanding that the Zelensky government be replaced.

This is no moment to make concessions to Putin. After the oil and gas embargo is imposed and Russia is feeling its consequences, lifting it will remain a powerful negotiating weapon to get Putin to cease hostilities and withdraw his troops from Ukraine.

Now is the time to stiffen resistance to Putin. The energy embargo should be immediately adopted and implemented. Poland’s NATO jets should be donated and delivered to Ukraine immediately, with promises of more NATO jets to come.

Biden should loudly call out the war crimes Russian forces are committing. U.S. decisions on war crimes should be wrested from the lawyers, and given to decision makers who understand the context and can move with the speed the situation requires, given the tempo of the war. They must act swiftly and in “war time” not “bureaucratic time” or “lawyer time”.

The immediate goal is not to get a conviction for a war crime with all of the elements of proof, but rather to bring to bear on Russia all of the pressure which denouncing the commission of war crimes can and will generate. A trial and a conviction is a separate matter. There will be no lack if evidence, when the time comes.

Similarly, the U.S. and NATO should not get hung up on lawyers’ details in negotiating permission for the donation of old NATO jets to Ukraine and their replacement. There is a war going on.

In “war time”, every minute of delay means a life, or many lives. U.S. and NATO officials should authorize the transfer of the jets and Poland should deliver jets to Ukraine, in a day or two. The details of their replacement by the U.S. and the corresponding contracts and legal obligations can be worked out later. There is a war on.

These delays underline the need for Biden to set up a War Council and a special Executive Committee which can cut through all the bureaucratic red tape and ensure that this war with Russia is effectively prosecuted.

Biden’s timorous officials can call it something else, until they realize that we are at war with Russia–economic and cold, for the moment, and hopefully not becoming hot–which with time even they will come to grasp.

As the article in The Telegraph on Russia’s air operations in Ukraine suggests, time is not on Putin’s side.

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.