Ukraine War, March 31, 2022 (I): Responding to nuclear threats; Wall Street Journal cites fears Biden administration aims for early negotiated settlement, urges upping provision of weapons and intelligence; Lavrov flies to China, touts new global order; Chinese media are silent

Developing

Due to rapidly-breaking developments and in order to facilitate readers’ access to the latest dispatches, we are publishing this article as it is being written. please check back for updates and additions.

To see a list of previous articles, enter “Ukraine” in the Search Box on the upper right, on The Trenchant Observer web site, and you will see a list in chronological order.

Dispatches

1) William Alberque and Fabian Hoffmann, “Nuclear risks over Ukraine are slim but real. Here’s what NATO can do,” Washington Post, March 31, 2022 (9:00 a.m. EDT);

2) Editorial Board, “Let Ukraine Go on Offense Against Russia
The U.S. is still not providing all of the weapons it needs to retake territory from Vladimir Putin,” Wall astreet Journal, March 31, 2022 (6:42 pm ET).

3) AFP News, “Lavrov Hails China As Part Of Emerging ‘Just World Order,'” International Business Times, March 30, 2022 (6:58 a.m.);

4) (Xinhua), “Chinese FM holds talks with Russian counterpart,” People’s Daily Online, March 31, 2022 (09:07).

Commentary

Responding to nuclear threats

Alberque and Hoffmann provide valuable insight into what is actually involved in nuclear escalation, in effect looking behind the Russian refrain of “You fight me, One, Two, Three, World War Three”.

The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, while arguing for the provision of more and better weapons and real-time military intelligence to Ukraine, make some disturbing onservations along the way.

The Journal’s Editorial Board writes,

The Ukrainians need heavier weapons to go on offense, including tanks and fighter aircraft like the MiG-29s that Poland wants to provide under the political cover of NATO. It also needs intelligence on Russian troop movements and vulnerabilities in the east. Now is the time to help Ukraine take the offensive. Reports of demoralized Russian forces are more frequent, including defectors who have taken equipment with them.

But in a private briefing on Capitol Hill this week, Administration officials continued to resist bipartisan pressure to provide heavier weapons. The claim is that they won’t make much difference to the conflict, but the Ukrainians are a better judge of that. It’s much harder to dislodge dug-in tank battalions with infantry armed with hand-held Javelin antitank missiles than it is with tanks or aircraft that can strike from above.

The concern among Ukraine’s supporters on Capitol Hill and the Pentagon is that the Biden Administration doesn’t want Ukraine to go on offense. It wants a negotiated settlement as soon as possible. France and Germany, the doves in the NATO coalition, are in a similar place. They worry that if Russia suffers even greater losses, Mr. Putin might escalate again and perhaps in more dangerous ways that drag NATO directly into the war. In a sense, Mr. Putin with his threats is defining the limits of U.S. assistance to Ukraine.(emphasis added)

In China, Lavrov touts new “multipolar, just, democratic world order”

On a sudden visit to Huangshan, in eastern China where a conference on Afghanistan was taking place, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov, after meeting with Chinese officials, touted the emergence of a new “multipolar, just, democratic world order.”

The Chinese response was muted, with no news stories on Lavrov’s meetings or pronouncement.

You have to give Lavrov the 1922 prize for over-the-top chutzpah, representing the Russian assault on civilization as the harbinger of a new “multipolar, just, democratic world order.” To understand Lavrov’s use of these terms, one must consult George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-four, and understand how Newspeak works.

The most significant aspect of this announcement was the deafening silence with which it was greeted by Chinese officials and the Chinese press.

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.

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