Ukraine War, April 30, 2022: West shifts to goal of “Victory”; Great care must be taken in stating war aims; Remembering Aleppo

Developing. We are publishing this article as it is being written. Please check back for updates.

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) Roland Oliphant, “Ukraine has path to victory, but prospect of defeat risks dangerous escalation from Russia: As Russia raises the spectre of nuclear war, Kyiv faces the difficult challenge of how to reclaim territory Moscow considers its own,” The Telegraph, April 30, 2022 (8:15 p.m.);

2) Yaroslav Trofimov, “Russia’s Long Disdain for Ukrainian Nationhood; Even Russian liberals and dissidents have traditionally shared Putin’s view that Ukraine has no distinct cultural identity,” Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2022 (12:57 pm ET);

PERSPECTIVE
3) “Aleppo — a wrenching epitaph for the failed foreign policy of Barack Obama,” The Trenchant Observer, November 21, 2016.

Commentary

U.S. and allies need to dial back Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s statement that the strategic goal is to weaken the Russian army.

Generals and foreign policy officials may have secret hopes that their actions may weaken Russia and its army, but they should be very careful not to state war aims that go beyond what is legitimate under international law.

The only legitimate goals for action taken in collective self-defense against an armed attack is to repel and halt that attack. Measures taken must be necessary and proportionate to the attack.

Those principles leave some room for interpretation.

What should be avoided, however, particularly at this delicate point in the war, are statements that lead the Russians to think NATO is out to weaken the Russian state and its army.

Such statements may lead Russian officials below the level of President Putin to believe no stable relations with NATO and NATO countries are possible, and that indeed NATO is embarked on an effort to destroy or greatly weaken Russia.

NATO and the West should simply state their goals are the defense of the territorial integrity and political independence of Ukraine against the Russian armed attack, and the reestablishment of relations between them and Russia, and between Ukraine and Russia, in accordance with the United Nations Charter and international law.

Those are war aims that might appear reasonable to other countries, particularly those that are not allied with the U.S. and NATO.

Such statements might also make it easier for Russian officials, at least at some point in the future, to resist the maximalist demands of those who, like Putin, argue that NATO is conducting a war to destroy Russia.

The Trenchant Observer

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See also,

Only force can stop Putin

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

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