When Vladimir Putin sent troops to Crimea, Russia’s president denied they were occupying the territory until he went ahead and annexed it.
Now he’s at it again, plainly undeterred by the sanctions imposed on him after the separatists he backed shot a civilian Malaysian airliner out of the sky.
Russian troops have crossed into Ukraine, and once again — as President Obama’s press conference Thursday underscored — we’re caught up in a semantic debate about whether those Russian troops constitute an “invasion.”
Asked directly at the press conference, the president dodged. Earlier this week, a spokesman in his National Security Council explained that Russia’s latest move in Ukraine “only amplifies international concerns about Russia’s true intentions.”
That’s ridiculous. There’s not a single person in the international community who doesn’t know exactly what Putin’s intentions are — which is to re-create the Soviet empire as Greater Russia.
The only “true intentions” we don’t yet know is America’s: Is the United States as committed to Ukraine as the president says?
The most telling line of the Obama presser was the president’s candid admission that “we don’t have a strategy yet.”
Though he said it in reference to a question about how he might act against Islamic State terrorists in Syria, it applies to almost all his foreign policy. All we ever seem to get from him is what he won’t do.
This time was no exception. “We are not taking military action to solve the Ukrainian problem,” Obama said flatly.
No one’s calling for American troops to engage the Russians. Ukraine has an army large enough for the job. What it needs is training and equipment.
Back in 1994, Ukraine gave up its nuclear arsenal in exchange for a guarantee its sovereignty would be respected — a guarantee that carries Uncle Sam’s signature.
It’s time we recognized the provocations are all coming from Putin, and that the only thing likely to stop him is a Ukraine with the wherewithal to defend itself.
Against the backdrop of the war in the East of Ukraine, in which Russia is directly involved, there are many media reports referring to the involvement of the “Wild Divisions” or “Kadyrov’s Brigades”. These descriptions are not completely accurate and I wish to make some clarifications.
The new structure of the Russian ground forces is based on brigades which are two or three times smaller than the old divisions. Brigades total approximately 3,500 personnel which are fully manned in accordance with wartime requirements. Brigades have the ability to act quickly and flexibly both as separate combat units and through the so-called BTGs (Battalion Tactical Groups) which are reinforced by various support units.
There are about 10 infantry brigades deployed to the Northern Caucasus (Southern Military District of the Russian Federation), most of them are deployed to Chechnya, Dagestan, North Ossetia and partially to Ingushetia. The so-called “national battalions” (or companies in some places) were formed as part of those motorized rifle brigades in these unstable regions of the Russian Northern Caucasus. These battalions consist of 350 personnel on average (approximately 100 personnel for companies). While the national battalions and companies are structurally included into those brigades, they unofficially have a status of Special Forces aimed at diversionary and reconnaissance activity. They report to the Head of District Intelligence, a representative of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff (GRU GSh)…
In the past few weeks, what was painfully obvious from the very beginning to Ukrainians [that the terrorist conflict in Eastern Ukraine was artificially manufactured, clandestinely funded, militarily supplied with weapons and fighting personnel, and secretly orchestrated by the Kremlin] is now grudgingly acknowledged by the rest of the world. Russia has now openly invaded Ukraine and only Putin’s generously paid Western apologists or the extremely naïve could argue otherwise. The Russian government’s continuing boldfaced lies that the alleged Donbas “separatists” are self-reliant disgruntled Ukrainians who are Russian speakers seeking only to protect their rights can no longer be credulously accepted by the West. This ruse has run its course. Russia is and has for months been in a state of war against Ukraine — its sole objective is to eradicate Ukraine’s independence, and return it to a vassal state under the dictatorship of Moscow thus giving a rebirth to a new USSR-like empire.
Since the cataclysmic events of World War II, the world’s nations have attempted to establish basic principles of international law and behavior to be adhered to by the governments of all nations so as to prevent future conflagrations on a global scale. The UN Charter, the Helsinki Final Act [the charter document of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] and the various organic documents of the European Union, have had as their linchpin the principle of territorial integrity and security and the inviolability of borders of independent states. NATO was created in part to protect the territorial integrity of its member states from outside military threats. Since 1994, when it entered NATO’s Partnership for Peace Program, Ukraine has participated in NATO outreach programs and took part in NATO-led missions around the world and alongside American troops in such places as Iraq and Afghanistan. It was this principle – territorial integrity and sovereignty of independent states – that was solemnly invoked – jointly and severally – by the United Kingdom, the Russia Federation and the United States in the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 which fervently pledged assurances by these countries of the inviolability of Ukrainian borders, an on which assurances Ukraine relied and voluntarily relinquished 1600 nuclear warheads – the then third largest nuclear arsenal on the globe.
It is now self evident that the Kremlin has not and will not adhere to any of its internationally made pledges regarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states thus undermining the bedrock upon which European peace is built in the aftermath of World War II. Rather, Russia has intentionally trampled upon Ukraine’s political and economic sovereignty and its territorial integrity for quite some time in full view of the world. Regrettably, the response from the United States and the European Union has been a blinders-like muted scolding of Putin with tempered economic sanctions but specifically excluding any military assistance to Ukraine. This piecemeal approach has only emboldened Putin and has given him a strategic time-advantage to fully implement his invasion of Ukraine, which in turn, will directly affect the economic and political stability of the member states of the EU. In recent days, and to the world’s astonishment, Putin has brandished not so veiled bellicose threats emphasizing the nuclear armament power that he has at his disposal. Clearly, it is in the long range self-interest of the West to take meaningful steps to stop and reverse Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and thus protect its own political and territorial integrity from future jeopardy.
Towards this end, the United States and the United Kingdom have a particular responsibility under the Budapest Memorandum. There are those apologists that argue that the Budapest Memorandum is not a “treaty” [even though it was part of Ukraine’s accession to the Non-Proliferation Treaty] and, according to their flawed logic, its breach is not enforceable nor has any consequential obligations for its other signatories. However, The Budapest Memorandum is clearly a contractual agreement under which three countries [Russia, the US and UK] together obtained a valuable and tangible concession from Ukraine for their joint benefit – i.e. the relinquishment of 1600 nuclear warheads – in consideration for which these three countries [Russia, the US and UK] together gave their joint assurances for the territorial integrity and economic independence of Ukraine. As such, since one of the beneficiaries of the Budapest Memorandum [Russia] egregiously breached its promise to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity, it is the obligation of the other two beneficiary signatories of the Budapest Memorandum [the US and UK] to make certain that Ukrainian territorial integrity is fully restored. Failure to do so will undoubtedly completely undercut any future negotiations with other nuclear powers in the hope of achieving nuclear disarmament and world peace.
The time has now come for the West to take strong and meaningful action in support of Ukraine’s independence and territorial integrity. The West must stop moving the goal line in order to placate Putin in the unlikely Pollyanna-like expectation that he will take an “off-ramp” and deescalate the situation in Ukraine. The hard and uncontroverted evidence proves exactly the contrary – Putin only interprets such peace intended initiatives as a sign of weakness. He only respects decisiveness and power. Therefore, the West must face him with resolve and strength.
It is crystal clear that neither the United States nor the EU will put boots on the ground in Ukraine. However, as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has expressed to world leaders, – Ukrainians have the resolve and will to defend their homeland – what Ukrainians need are military supplies and weaponry to aid them in their battle for national survival. Therefore, we strongly urge that the following steps be implemented immediately by the United States government, NATO, and its European allies.
Military assistance in the form of lethal weapons and nonlethal military supplies, as well as advisors and related intelligence and equipment.
The imposition of full sector sanctions, especially in the banking and fossil fuel industries, and the bank accounts of Russian governmental business entities frozen.
Ukraine’s accession to non-NATO ally status by the United States should be expeditiously granted.
Increased humanitarian medical and other assistance by the international community for persons injured in the war and for the displaced persons from Eastern Ukraine and Crimea should be accelerated.
All sales of military or dual use equipment should be immediately stopped – especially by France which is planning in the near future to transfer two Mistral type helicopter attack carriers to Russia.
Additional monetary funding for the Ukrainian government in the form of guaranteed loans should be provided to help Ukraine weather the economic crisis caused by the Russian invasion.
The United States and Europe are at a historically crucial crossroad. America must take strong and decisive action and reaffirm its world leadership position now! If Western governments continue on the existing path of placating Putin and “doing business as usual”, then they will condemn our children and grandchildren to a probable conflagration on the European continent that will be as great or even greater than the horrors of World War II [recall Putin’s recent verbal flexing of his nuclear muscle] …..and from which America will have no escape.
Canada has decided to join the NATO training exercise called Trident Juncture 2015. The military exercise will include sending warships, jets and troops in a deployment. This is being considered to be the first initiative to combat against Russian forces.
According to The Canadian Press, the Canadian units will take part in a military test at the alliance’s crisis response team. The training exercise in 2015 will be held in Portugal, Spain and Italy for several months. Canada’s Joint Operations Commander Lt.-Gen. Stuart Beare said that his country was planning to “commit maritime, air and land to the live (fire) exercise.” The alliance declared in the previous week that it had plans to send soldiers to eastern Europe for the reason of reassuring allied countries concerned over Russia’s aggression.
NATO’s crisis response unit presently has 13,000 troops. It also has reserve formations and a headquarters. The unit operates with various countries on rotation. The tenure of the unit for a specific country is generally up to one year. Even though the exercise in 2015 may not put Canada part of the rotation system, it may prepare the country for similar situations. Beare refused to clarify Canada’s stance at the moment for political and strategic decision-making reasons. “I can’t answer the question specifically, but I can tell you we are acting in a way that, if we do, we’ll be really, really good at it,” he said.
There is going to be a NATO summit to be held in Wales. It is, however, still unclear if Canada is going to be a regular member of the quick reaction unit. According to U.S. authorities, the quick reaction force may be based in Poland. NATO’s summer training, which Canada took part in, was also held in the central part of the European country. If Canada does decide to join the rapid reaction force, it should be ready to open fire if a NATO member gets attacked.
NATO expert Steve Saideman expressed his apprehension about the effectiveness of the rapid unit. At the same time, he said that he was unsure if Canada was ready to commit financially for such a long-term involvement.
At the end of August, 2014, Dmytro Yarosh gave an interview for a group of journalists:
“Through the experience of front line battles, a new Ukrainian identity is being forged,” stated Yarosh. “From this group of men a new political culture will also emerge after the war, and they will be the ones who will spearhead the (Ukrainian) revolution.” They will be the post-war core for a renaissance of Ukrainian society.
His policy is to fight on one front at a time, first Donbas, then through political reform in Kyiv, and finally to work for the return of Crimea. “There can be no compromise with the terrorists,” he said, and joked that by the time the war is over and Crimea is liberated, and perhaps even the collapse of the Putin’s Russia will follow as well, then he will be ready to retire. He hopes for such a collapse of the empire so that Ukrainians and Russians can return to being the brothers they showed themselves to be in 1991, after the Soviet Union ceased to exist.
He was asked for his assessment of President Poroshenko, to which he replied that “his success depends on him… Ukrainians have shown that they can change a situation; they can also change the president.” Yarosh indicated his surprise that as Commander in Chief, Poroshenko has not declared Ukraine to be in a state of war. “Then we would see concrete results and successes,” he explained. “Under the banner of one call to unity, ‘All efforts for the Front, everything for Victory,’” the entire country would become united.” Such as declaration would correspond to the reality on the ground. “We have ceased to be an Anti-Terrorist Operation a long time ago.”
He made a comment about the approach of Semen Semenchenko, leader of the volunteer battalion, Donbas, who is combining political activism with military involvement. “He is going about it the right way.”
Yarosh spoke of three surreal experiences of Ukraine at war: the first is leadership role shown by volunteer soldiers who have been teaching the regular army the Ukrainian fighting spirit; the second is the unnatural world of war, which is flawed as a form of justice “because it demands the shedding of human blood”; the third is “Putin’s illogical actions,” from the demand that Ukraine doesn’t and never existed, to the illusion of the Yanukovych government, because “while Yanukovych was in power, Putin was making all plans behind the scenes for Crimea and Donbas.”
A fourth surprise could be added, what Yarosh describes as the “strangely optimistic mentality of the Ukrainian nation” in spite of a shocking and brutal war. Such a positive character should have its military spirit fostered, “just like in the Kozak era,” through which Ukrainians learn what it means to be independent, to rely on themselves, and not on others, including organizations such as NATO. “We must find our own way,” he said, “because we are our own country with Europe on one side and Asia on the other.” Then he made a remark he has made in other interviews before the war started, namely that “Ukraine should be the subject of geo-politics, not a mere object.”
He was asked about the mentality of those who have been parading Ukrainian prisoners of war before the cameras. “It took ten years to get Yanukovych into power,” he answered, “by placing the right communists in position in Donbas,” so now it takes time to change the thinking of the people. “The idea of being a ‘5th column’ for Russia is changing. When we liberate villages, people now bring us lists of who the separatists are.” On a related theme, he indicated that “the young men from the east who are now hiding in the west need to do the right thing, come out, train, and for fight.”
As for the prisoners of war captured by Ukrainian armed forces, Yarosh commented that now there are fewer separatists and more regular Russian military. “They expect to be in for harsh punishment,” from what they have been told about Pravyi Sektor. “But it is not like that at all.”
Other topics discussed in the interview included prospects for the upcoming parliamentary elections, set for the autumn of 2014. “Unfortunately the timing of this election won’t result in a very great change in the composition of parliament,” he said, “because those who would make really good candidates are at war,” while those who are not fighting aren’t the best candidates. Nonetheless, Yarosh is a big proponent, even if the war means that not all regions will be able to get to the polls.
Asked if he himself will come to vote, his understated reply was yes, “I’ll leave the war zone to come and vote. The war will still be there when I get back.”
Given the escalation of the situation in the country, Ukraine is willing to discuss with the EU the expansion of the list of arms that can be supplied to our state. It was stated by President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko at the briefing in Brussels.
“The EU has earlier abolished the embargo on the supply of certain weapons and now we are expecting that the given list of arms will be broadened by the EU,” the Head of State noted adding that Ukraine was willing to discuss the given issue in details at the NATO Summit in Wales.
The President informed that the EU countries were ready to provide military-technical assistance to Ukraine. “Consultations were held at bilateral level on the expansion of military-technical cooperation. Finally, we fix the military-technical assistance and the development of cooperation with the EU member-states at bilateral level that will allow us significantly increasing combat capability and defense capacity of our Armed Forces,” Petro Poroshenko said. According to him, the main part of cooperation would be in the provision of non-lethal weapons of the highest quality and the state-of-art samples produced in the EU to Ukraine.
According to the President, Ukraine plans to discuss the issue of increasing military-technical cooperation at the NATO Summit as well.
CHELYABINSK, August 31, /ITAR-TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin in his statement was not referring to giving statehood to Novorossia, only to inclusive talks inside Ukraine, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Sunday.
After Putin’s words in an interview to Russia’s TV Channel One were misinterpreted, Peskov told reporters that “the interpretations, suggesting that the president was referring to eastern Ukraine’s statehood, are wrong, which becomes clear after reading his statement.”
“The president, as a matter of fact, was referring to the need of the inclusive talks, the earliest beginning of which had been emphasised way back in documents, signed in various formats,” Pskov added.
“These are the inclusive talks that should determine the relationship with the eastern regions, that is, negotiations inside Ukraine on the internal Ukrainian order with respect for the interests of the country’s eastern regions, the interests of Novorossia: the way, extent and mechanisms of this process. That’s what the president meant,” the press secretary said.
Peskov added that giving some status to Novorossia was totally out of the question.
“This is very clear from the president’s statement,” he said.
Only Kiev can agree with Novorossia on conflict settlement, as it is Ukraine’s internal affair.
He told reporters that there could be no agreement between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents on the conflict settlement.
“This is impossible, because it’s not a conflict between Russia and Ukraine, but an internal Ukrainian conflict,” Peskov said.
A Blog collecting news about Ukraine and Russia…..from Australia