Ukraine War, May 30, 2023: Attacks on targets in Russia; U.K. breaks ranks with U.S.

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1) Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, “Overthrowing Putin is a legitimate war aim; Whoever was behind the drone strikes on Moscow, Kyiv can’t be criticised for striking at Russia’s heart,” The Telegraph, May 30, 2023 (5:48 pm);

2) Nataliya Vasilyeva,”James Cleverly backs Ukraine’s right to attack Russia after Moscow’s ‘Beverly Hills’ hit by drones; At least 13 drones crashed across the Russian capital, with the Kremlin lashing out at what it described as a ‘terrorist attack’,” The Telegraph, May 30, 2023 (10:01 pm);

3) Kori Schake,”Biden Is More Fearful Than the Ukrainians Are; The U.S. president has promised Ukraine “whatever it takes, as long as it takes.” But out of anxiety about escalation, Washington is making decisions that could prolong the war,” The Atlantic, May 29, 2023;


Hamish de Bretton-Gordon raises an important question: Is Vladimir Putin a legitimate target under the laws of war or what is now called international humanitarian law?

Views differ. We will report back with some of them.

Nataliya Vasilyeva reorts on a wave of drone strikes that hit targets in residential neighborhoods in Moscow.

Volodymyr Zelinski and Ukraine are at a perilous point in developing their strategy.

It is a war crime to target civilian residences.

It is the war crime the Russians have been committing since the start of the war, on such a broad scale and in such a systematic fashion as to constitute crimes against humanity.

Ukraine must be extremely careful to aim only at military targets, and to avoid targeting civilians or civilian residences.

Ucraine’s support from allies is based in large part on the fact that Ukrainians and be country are innocent victims of a war of aggression and war crimes against civilians and civilian infrastructure.

They must be very careful not to target civilian residential neighborhoods, or civilian infrastructure in Russia.

For if they make this mistake, they could lose the military and economic support on which their survival depends.

Much of that support is motivated not only by a desire to help Ukraine repel Russian aggression, but also at upholding international law and the U.N. Charter-based international legal order.

If Ukrainians commit war crimes by targeting civilian residences, they will greatly weaken the moral imperatives that call on nations to support them.

As we have remarked in earlier articles, it is regrettable that Joe Biden and NATO are enforcing Putin’s “red line” about not hitting targets on Russian territory.

As we have pointed out, authorizing the transfer of F-16’s, which are capable of hitting targets in Russia completely destroys any rational basis for not supplying Ukraine with long-range artillery, such as the ATACMS rockets which can be launched by unmodified HIMARS artillery units.

The Ukrainians should STOP PLAYING THEIR CUTE GAME of not acknowledging attacks on Russian targets. Instead, they should be making a full-throated argument in support of their right of individual self-defense as authorized by international law and Article 51 of the U.N. Charter.

Together with other countries such as Germany and the United Kingdom they should be pushing for Biden and NATO countries to release them from the restrictions on the use of weapons supplied by them that prohibit their use against targets in Russia.

Nataliya Vasilyeva reports on the statement by James Claverly, Britain’s Defense Secretary, to the effect that attacks against targets in Russia are legitimate.

This marks a major break with Joe Biden and NATO countries that support Biden’s enforcement of Putin’s “red line”.

Finally, Kori Schake describes the fears of Joe Biden that underlie his policy of enforcing Putin’s “red line” prohibiting attacks by Ukraine against targets in Russia.

Time is running out. In 16 months Donald Trump could be elected President of the United States.

The U.S., NATO, and others need to give Ukraine all the weapons they need, NOW, and relax restrictions on their use, NOW.

The Trenchant Observer


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