Ukraine War, July 14, 2022: Russia is shooting fish in a barrel; NATO needs to indirectly confront Russia by relaxing restrictions on weapons use

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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.


1) “Ukraine War, May 30, 2022: No cure for addled thinking–Biden’s fear of Putin and refusal to give Ukraine weapons that can strike Russian territory; Trust and policy coordination with Ukraine v. mistrust and denial of needed weapons; SDP and Scholz out of sync with German public; New coalition of Greens and CDU possible if not likely,” The Trenchant Observer, May 30, 2022;

2) “Ukraine War, May 31, 2022: Biden’s Op-ed, and his abject fear of Putin,” The Trenchant Observer, May 31, 2022;

3) Lawrence Freedman, “Why the Russian military should be very worried; As Ukraine targets ammunition depots, Putin’s forces may be approaching a crisis point,” The New Statesman, July 12, 2022.


NATO countries have imposed restrictions on the use of weapons supplied to Ukraine which prevent Ukrainians from fully exercising their inherent right of self-defense under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

The effect has been to tie one of Ukraine’s arms behind its back, leaving its cities and towns exposed to Russian missile and artillery strikes. These attacks, which NATO countries will not allow Ukraine to defend against by striking at launching sites inside Russia, are like shooting fish in a barrel.

We are left with a situation where Russia is left free to attack Ukrainians, who cannot defend themselves and who must wait, passively, for the next murderous Russian attacks. The Russians are left free in a situation which is indeed like shooting fish in a barrel.

The U.S. has also restricted the use of long-range artillery it is supplying Ukraine by not only requiring commitments from Ukraine to not use the weapons to attack targets on Russian territory, but also by restricting the range of the artillery shells supplied for use with the long-range artillery.

These artillery pieces have a range of 300 kilometers or 180 miles. The Biden administration has only furnished shells with a range of 80 kilometers or approximately 50 miles.

The reason for these restrictions is that President Joe Biden is afraid of provoking Vladimir Putin by allowing Ukrainian attacks on Russian territory, thereby crossing one of Putin’s “red lines”.

These “red lines” have no status under international law, which permits Ukraine to use force in order to repel an “armed attack” on Ukraine by Russian forces. The real red lines are the prohibitions in the U.N. Charter, which Putin is crossing every day.

As Russia with its overwhelming military superiority bombs more towns and cities and seizes more territory in Ukraine, NATO and the West need to start standing up to Putin and Russia’s army if they are to avoid defeat and all the consequences of a Russian victory in Ukraine.

Before it becomes necessary for NATO forces to become directly involved in confronting the Russians militarily, the U.S. and other NATO countries should at least allow Ukraine to use the weapons it supplies in full exercise of the right of self-defense under international law and the U.N. Charter, and supply Ukraine with artillery shells that enable the Ukrainians to take full advantage of the weapons’ capabilities.

The Trenchant Observer


See also,

Only force can stop Putin

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


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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.