Ukraine War, January 15, 2023: Will White House and NATO countries commit fully to “victory”, and go all out to help Ukraine win the war and uphold international law and the U.N. Charter?

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

To understand the broad context within which current developments in Ukraine should be considered,see

“Ukraine War, October 26, 2022: The context for analysis of current developments; The “dirty bomb” as a Russian propaganda distraction from current war crimes,” The Trenchant Observer, October 26, 2022.

Dispatches

1) Phillips Payson O’Brien, ,”Time Is on Ukraine’s Side, Not Russia’s; The Ukrainians will win if they keep getting better weapons,” The Atlantic, January 14, 2023 (8:00 a.m. ET).

Phillips Payson O’Brien is a professor of strategic studies at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. He is the author of How the War Was Won: Air-Sea Power and Allied Victory in World War II.;

2) Klaus Geiger, “Lambrechts Schwäche war für Olaf Scholz ein Geschenk,” Die Welt, den 15. Januar 2023;

3) Cécile Boutelet(Berlin, correspondance), Cécile Ducourtieux(Londres, correspondante) et Cédric Pietralunga, “Guerre en Ukraine : les Européens promettent de premiers chars à Kiev; Après la Finlande et la Pologne, le Royaume-Uni a annoncé, samedi, la livraison « dans les prochaines semaines » de quatorze Challenger 2. Les pressions sur l’Allemagne, qui s’y était toujours refusée, sont en voie de faire céder le chancelier,” Le Monde, le 16 janvier 2023 (mis à jour à 05h03);

4) Cécile Boutelet(Berlin, correspondandent), Cécile Ducourtieux(London, correspondent) et Cédric Pietralunga, “War in Ukraine: Europeans promise first tanks in Kiev; After Finland and Poland, the United Kingdom announced on Saturday the delivery “in the coming weeks” of fourteen Challenger 2. Pressure on Germany, which had always refused, is on the way to making the Chancellor ccede,” Le Monde, January 16, 2023 (updated at 5:03 a.m.);

Analysis

The latest news reports from Europe indicate that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is on the verge of ceding to the demands of NATO partners Poland, U.K. and future NATO partner Finland to grant authorization for countries willing to transfer German-made Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine.

If this occurs it will be a major breakthrough in terms of the conceptual hurdles blocking such transfers.

Even if Germany grants such authorizations, a huge question remaining will be whether Germany itself transfers Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine from its own stock. Estimates are that Germany has some 200 Leopard 2’s in storage which it could send to Ukraine after they have been made “battle ready”. The manufacturer says this process could take a year.

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) is expected to resign in the next few days. She has been harshly criticized for the slow and incompetent manner in which she has responded to weapons requests from Ukraine even after the Scholz government has promised the weapons. But as Klaus Geiger points out, she has actually been carrying out the dilatory and wavering policies of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who retains firm control over such decisions.

Scholz appears to be the only European leader who is even more afraid of Vladimir Putin and his nuclear threats than is President Joe Biden.

In Scholz’s case, however, more than fear seems to be influuencing his decisions. Scholz is the head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) as well as that of the governing “traffic light coalition” (SPD, Green Party, FDP). The SDP harbors within its ranks a large number of “those who understand Putin” (Putin Versteher) and even pro-Russian members. Scholz seems to be performing a balancing act trying to satisfy both these elements and other elements within the party as well as coalition partners who favor greater military support for Ukraine.

Despite the commitment of the U.K. to send battle tanks to Ukraine, and Scholz apparently moving toward authorization of sending of Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine, two overarching questions remain:

The first question is whether Biden, Scholz, and other NATO and coalition partners will commit fully to the goal of victory, in the Ukrainian sense.

That would include:

1) Withdrawal of Russian forces from all Ukrainian territory:
2) Payment of war reparations by Russia for the damages to life and property it has caused by its war of aggression; and
3) Trial of Russian officials and soldiers for war crimes they have committed in launching and conducting a war of aggression against Ukraine.

All of these elements are consistent with international law.The first element is required by peremptory norms of international law (jus cogens).

“Total victory” in the Ukrainian sense does not mean “unconditional surrender” as was the case with Germany and Japan in World War II.

The second question is whether Biden, Scholz, and other key NATO and coalition partners will go all out to help Ukraine win the war and uphold international law and the U.N. Charter.

A positive answer to this question would mean that the U.S. and its allies move toward a war footing, e,g., by ramping up manufacture and delivery of weapons and other munitions to emergency wartime levels such as we saw in World War II.

It would also mean pressing countries in the “Global South” to condemn Russian aggression and barbarism in Ukraine, and to join the international sanctions regime aimed at bringing both to an early halt.

Further, it would mean strengthening current sanctions, e.g., by banning the import to the EU of oil transported by pipeline (over land) with whatever exception may be required for Hungary. Germany is currently benefitting from an exception from the EU oil import ban for oil transported by land (e.g., pipeline).

It would mean playing hardball with Turkey, by beginning studies of how American air bases might be relocated to other NATO countries such as Greece, and re-examining  U.S. military sales and assistance to Turkey.

The responses to both these questions should reveal a realization that victory in the war in Ukraine is essential to ensure the future freedom and security of NATO and other countries.The cost of military and other aid to Ukraine should be considered in this light.

Only if the West sets victory as its goal will Ukraine have a realistic chance of winning its war, which is also our war.

It is a war not only to defend Ukraine but also to uphold international law,  the U.N. Charter, and our civilization based on reason and law, not barbarism and mili

The Trenchant Observer

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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.

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