Ukraine War, April 18, 2022: Putin honors the Bucha war criminals; Turkey blocks passage of Russian warships to Black Sea


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.

Only force can stop Putin

See “Ukraine War, April 5, 2022 (II): Force must be used to stop Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, April 5, 2022.


1) Sophie Tanno, “Ukraine evening briefing: Five developments as Putin honours brigade accused of Bucha war crimes,” The Telegraph, April 18, 2022 (5:17pm);

2) “Putin verleiht Ehrentitel an Butscha-Brigade; Butscha ist zum Symbol für die russischen Gräueltaten im Krieg gegen die Ukraine geworden. Nun zeichnet Präsident Putin die mutmaßlichen Kriegsverbrecher aus,” Der Spiegel, den 18. April 2022 (19.09 Uhr);

3) Marie Jégo (Istanbul), “Guerre en Ukraine : pourquoi la Turquie est devenue l’arbitre du conflit en mer Noire; La fermeture du Bosphore, décidée par Ankara, empêche la Russie d’envoyer des renforts navals dans la zone,” Le Monde, le 18 avril 2022 (11h06, mis à jour à 16h59);

4) Anne Applebaum and Jeffrey Goldberg, “LIBERATION WITHOUT VICTORY; In a wide-ranging conversation at his compound in Kyiv, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky tells The Atlantic what Ukraine needs to survive—and describes the price it has paid,” The Atlantic, April 15, 2022.


Putin honors the Bucha war criminals

Tanno reports on Putin’s honoring on the unit that committed war crimes in Bucha. She writes,

(President Vladimir Putin) on Monday bestowed an honorary title on a brigade accused by Ukraine of Bucha war crimes.

A decree signed by Putin gave the 64th Motor Rifle Brigade the title of “Guards” for defending the “Motherland and state interests” and praised the “mass heroism and valour, tenacity and courage” of its members.

In early April, the Ukrainian defence ministry said the unit occupied the town outside the capital Kyiv and committed war crimes.

The majority of people killed in Bucha died from gunshot wounds, Ukrainian police said last week.

This report calls to mind a video seen on Twitter in which the Russian actors joked about getting ready to go out and commit war crimes.

We should all understand that Putin, many Russian soldiers, and a significant portion of the Russian population do not share our values, and are not shocked by the commission of atrocities that are reminiscent of Genghis Khan.

We should devote our public energies not to the expression of shock and dismay, though such sentiments are inevitable and understandable, but rather to pressuring our governments to take military action, including the limited use of force, to bring these atrocities to a halt.

Turkey blocks passage of Russian warships to Black Sea

Marie Jégo reports on the critical role played by Turkey in blocking Russian warships from passing through the straits in the Dardelles and the Bosphorus to the Black Sea.

This action has significantly reduced Russia’s naval capacity in the Black Sea, and has prevented it from replacing the Moskva, the flagship of the Black Sea Fleet, with one or both vessels of the same type from its North Sea and Pacific fleets.

She quotes a Ukrainian diplomat as saying Turkey’s action is responsible for saving, at least up until now, the Black Sea port of Odessa.

He also reports on the close relationship between Turkey and Ukraine, and how Turkey, while not participating in sanctions against Russia, is increasingly leaning toward Ukraine.

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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.