Category Archives: Britain

John F. Hall Jr: Solutions for the West to end strife, suffering in Ukraine

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The United States and the European Union salute themselves as bastions for freedom, enlightenment, diversity, tolerance, peace, and the rule of law across the globe. Hundreds of American and European lives and billions of dollars and euros are sacrificed on the altar of these principles each year by our governments. The West’s leadership and its delivery on the promise of these values is lacking, however, in righting the wrongs of a growing, devastating cancer in Ukraine, which has extinguished thousands of lives. The toll of lives sacrificed to the Russian invasion and the Russian-backed aggression in Ukraine is now approaching that of lives lost to the Ebola virus, but where does the West focus its attention and resources?

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s objective is to partition Ukraine, its resources, and its people into a new neo-Soviet enclave which he — not its people — will rule, with characteristic, Putin-esque brutality and repression. The forthcoming conquest of Mariupol and Russia’s land-route to Crimea — which Putin illegally ripped from Ukraine nearly a year ago, in brazen violation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and all precepts of international law — is Putin’s current objective. It’s an objective which he will easily accomplish, especially in the face of increasingly-shameful Western timidity to respond. So, what is to be done?

Here’s what the West could do, if it actually possessed the true strength and character of its principles . . .

First, Russia is out of the G-20. The G-20 is a group of industrialized nations, with modern political and economic systems that respect peace, respect borders, and work for international comity and security, as well as financial stability. Russia is neither an economic nor political leader; it doesn’t respect either peace or borders, and it harbors no interest in international peace and security. How many Russian forces are engaged against the forces of Islamist extremism, for example? Much of the rest of the G-20 is aggressively engaged to save innocent populations from the brutal devastation of ISIS and other radical Islamist movements, while Russia sits-by, happily on the sidelines, watching as others take-up the fight and suffer the losses against an alarmingly brutal and growing Islamist threat. Under Putin’s dictatorship, Russia is, instead, focusing its efforts on silencing dissension and civil liberties at home, occupying Ukraine and Georgia, serially breaking promises, and fast-becoming a pariah state and its own economic basket-case, as a result. In short, Russia possesses none of the attributes required for membership in the G-20. Russia should be out of the G-20.

Second, the Western powers — the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, and all European Union Member States — must ally themselves firmly with Ukraine, providing Ukraine with both meaningful financial and military relief. The United Kingdom has recently provided an entree to this effort through its own initiative. Others should follow. While Putin may not particularly care, nor suddenly be moved to pursue the path of peace, if hundreds more Russian soldiers and their Donbas mafia colleagues lose their lives in the furtherance of his Ukrainian gambit, it is nonetheless vital for Ukraine to at least be able to defend itself. Robust Western aid to Ukraine — in all forms — is essential to this effort. Lives are in the balance. Lives that believe in freedom, democracy, pluralism, and the dignity of humankind. In defense if these values, Ukraine’s poorly-equipped soldiers are dying on the uneven fields of battle with their badly-outdated arms against trained Russian soldiers and an overwhelming modern Russian military power. They fight valiantly, yet they are tragically over-matched against Putin’s army. It’s past time for the United States and other Western powers to supply Ukraine with the best that we can give to them in their efforts to defend their Ukrainian homeland, Ukrainian civilians, peace, and the rule of law. In fact, it’s well past time.

Third, the United States, all European nations, and Ukraine should now be shouting at the tops of their voices at the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, and the international media with their ample proof that Russia has invaded Ukraine and killed its people — including civilians — in an illegal land-grab that violates numerous provisions of the United Nations’ charter. The skilled Russian propaganda machine is kicking the United States and the European Union across-the-floor, quite successfully painting the West as the instigators of a conflict in Ukraine that Russia is now obliged — as a good neighbor — to pacify. It’s all pure manure, of course, but the West is losing the information war — and badly. It’s time for the West to step-up its game when it comes to the truth and the evidence.

Finally, as CNN correspondent Fareed Zakaria has noted, the United States and the European Union could consider removing Russia from the international banking system until Russia can finally learn to honor the agreements which it has signed, and abide by the norms of international law in the 21st century. Without the further loss of a single life on the tragic fields of combat, the West can demonstrate to Russia the importance of actually respecting nations, neighbors, laws, and borders. It can do all of this by taking Russia out of the international banking mechanisms governed by the Society for Worldwide Inter-bank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT). This would put Russia on an international financial footing similar to, say, North Korea, and stem Russia’s economic ability to support its continuing invasion of Ukraine. It might even drive Russia into further economic strife. Why would the West do this, however? Especially when Russian Prime Minister Medvedev has stated that such an act would be met with unlimited consequences?

We would do this because, for one, Putin and his gangsters in Ukraine mercilessly killed 298 innocent passengers aboard MH-17 — a crime against humanity for which they have never been and never will be called to account, largely owing to the fact that the West lacks the fortitude even to demand an answer, although Putin’s many victims included children. Putin and his henchmen ruthlessly blew an unarmed civilian aircraft out of the sky . . . and we’ve all just stood by, wringing our hands. How nice for us. How awful for those who suffered from this terrible injustice. Will we, in fact, never respond to this mass-murder of innocents?

We would also do this because it’s clear that the loss of Russian soldiers illegally present in Ukraine — killing Ukrainian civilians and soldiers — is of minor consequence to Putin. He simply doesn’t care if Russian soldiers perish in the pursuit of his ill-conceived frolic. His ability to pay-off his boyars in the Russian oligarchy, however, is of some consequence to him. Putin has fleeced billions of dollars off of the backs of the people who blindly “elected” him. It would be nice if the world’s press finally took notice of this fact, but in the meantime, Russia’s exclusion from SWIFT and the ensuing complication of the means to pay-off his boyars might just be enough to end the conflict in Ukraine, and even to restore peace in Europe. All without firing a shot. We all hope for this, but it will require the kind of leadership from the United States and the European Union — the self-proclaimed guardians of freedom — that we’ve yet to see. We’re all eager to see such leadership. The people of Ukraine who yet believe in Western values are dying to see it, as well. Literally.

General Sir Richard Dannatt condemns armoured vehicle transfer to Ukraine

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The former head of the British Army has condemned a decision to deliver dozens of redundant British military armoured vehicles to the Ukrainian government as “nothing short of immoral”.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, who served as Chief of the General Staff between 2006 and 2009, said the Saxon armoured vehicles, which the Ukranian military are planning to convert for use in their fight against Russian-backed separatist forces – are “quite useless”.

Ukranian sources said that 20 Saxons have been delivered to Ukraine, with another 55 expected to arrive soon.

Although the Ministry of Defence would not confirm the figures, it said the vehicles, which were transferred to the Ukrainians under a 2013 deal which predates the current conflict, were not equipped with lethal weapons.

It insisted the delivery did not represent an escalation of British involvement in Ukraine.

But Gen Sir Richard, who acted as David Cameron’s defence adviser between November 2009 and the general election in May 2010, said the vehicles should not have been transferred to the Ukranians in the first place, as they were not fit for purpose.

He told The Telegraph: “I took these out of service by the UK Army in 2005/6 as completely unsuitable for current operations, so I find it incredible that they are being sold/gifted to Ukraine. I am incensed by the thought we are supplying, even via a 3rd party, SAXON APCs to the hapless Ukrainians.

“They are quite useless, semi-armoured lorries that should be nowhere near anyone’s front line.”

He said that it was “nothing short of immoral” to present the transfer of the vehicles as a “good news story” for the Ukrainians.

Gen Sir Richard added:”My concern is the inadequate nature of these vehicles which I ordered out of British Army front line service when I was Commander in Chief Land Command 2005-2006. They were withdrawn from Iraq and never deployed in southern Afghanistan.

“To suggest that the UK is making a significant gesture of support by supplying vehicles which we took out of service ten years ago, because we deemed them unsafe, seems bizarre at best and downright dangerous at worst.”

The Ukranian authorities have made it clear they fully intend to use the vehicles in their struggle against the separatists.

Oleksander Turchynov, Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council (NSDC) Secretary said during a visit to the National Guards Training Center that although the armoured vehicles need some readjustment they would be adapted for the Ukrainian army.

He said: “These Saxons arrived without any armament, we will mount arms which should provide efficient firing cover for the National Guard or other units to which they will be supplied.”

Mr Turchynov added that the vehicles would enter service in the Ukrainian army as soon as they had been tested at a training range.

A MoD spokeswoman said the sale had been organised for some time through the Disposal Services authority, which deals with obsolete military equipment.

She said: “As the foreign secretary has made clear, our policy since the beginning of the crisis has been to supply non-lethal assistance to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. There has been no change to this and we have not provided lethal assistance.

“These vehicles were provided unarmed under a commercial contract, dating to 2013, by a private company. They offer protective mobility to personnel, and are defensive in nature; they are not close combat vehicles.”

Thousands of people have died in almost a year of fighting in the region.

A new ceasefire deal for eastern Ukraine brokered to end the conflict between the Ukrainian army and the rebels is set to begin at midnight on Saturday.
The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has warned Russia will face fresh sanctions from the EU if the deal is not fully implemented,
She said EU leaders had asked officials to prepare further sanctions in case an agreed ceasefire was not respected. The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France reached the ceasefire agreement on Thursday, after lengthy talks in Belarus.

Pro-Russian rebels have signed the deal, which also includes weapon withdrawals and prisoner exchanges.

However key issues remain to be settled and clashes between government forces and the rebels continued on Thursday, with one Russian-backed commander said his forces would not stop fighting.

Canada to send military trainers to Ukraine

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Following Britain Canada and the United States will send military trainers to Ukraine.

Canadian Defense Minister Jason Kenney announced that Canada could send military instructors to Ukraine for training Ukrainian troops, reports with reference to

According to it, such a decision was already taken in the U.S. and the UK.

According to the news agency, last fall, Canada already sent 69 instructors to train Kurdish military personnel in Iraq.

Earlier, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced sending military trainers to Ukraine.

Russia’s Lavrov Accuses West of Trying to Dominate the World

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has accused Western powers of trying to dominate and impose their ideology on the rest of world, while the United States and European delegations slammed Moscow for supporting rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Lavrov was speaking Monday at a special meeting of the UN Security Council organized by China, which holds the rotating presidency of the 15-nation body this month, on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.

Without accusing specific countries, Lavrov complained about what he said was rampant violation of key principles of the UN Charter, specifically the “independence and sovereign equality of states, the non-interference in their internal affairs.” He cited Western interventions in Syria, Libya and Iraq.

“All of this is a result of attempts to dominate global affairs, to rule over all, everywhere,” Lavrov said.

“For those not wishing to play ball, there are various methods, including regime change, including the open support for the unconstitutional state coup in Ukraine a year ago,” he said.

Russia’s top diplomat also complained about unilateral sanctions not approved by the Security Council, such as those imposed on Moscow by the United States and Europe over its actions in Ukraine. Russia denies Western allegations that it is supporting and directing Ukraine’s pro-Russian rebels.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi also highlighted the importance of “non-interference in internal affairs and respect for territorial integrity.”

He complained about moves by some countries that “attempt to overturn and whitewash past crimes of aggression,” ostensibly a swipe at Japan, whose Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to recast his country’s World War II history in a less apologetic tone.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Antanas Linkevicius responded sharply to Lavrov’s complaints.

“From eastern Ukraine to Moldova’s Transdnestr, to Georgia’s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions, a pattern exists of Russia’s interference in the sovereign affairs of neighboring states,” he said. “For a year now, Ukraine has been under attack by Russian commandos and mercenaries.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power suggested Moscow’s call for greater respect for nations’ sovereignty and territorial integrity was hypocritical.

“Russia today is training, arming, supporting and fighting alongside separatists who have brutally seized Ukrainian territory, a blatant violation of the UN Charter and an assault on its neighbor’s sovereignty,” she said.

United Kingdom & Emirates strike deals with Ukraine to arm and instruct military

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The United Kingdom and United Arab Emirates have struck substantial deals to better equip Ukraine’s armed forces as the country seeks to rapidly equip, train, and modernize its military in the face of war with Russia. In separate deals, the UAE will supply Ukraine with armaments and military hardware, while the Britain will provide necessary medical, intelligence, logistics and infantry training.

The deployment of up to 75 British Armed Forces personnel to Ukraine will begin as soon as next week as part of what the Ministry of Defense called a “training mission.” While a seemingly small contingent, the deployment of British troops to Ukraine would mark a significant boost in assistance relative to the benign non-lethal aid received to date.

“Over the course of the next month we’re going to be deploying British service personnel to provide advice and a range of training, to tactical intelligence to logistics, to medical care,” British Prime Minister Cameron told lawmakers during a session of parliament. “We’ll also be developing an infantry training program with Ukraine to improve the durability of their forces.”

In parallel to Cameron’s statements, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko announced the signing of a deal on military and technical cooperation with the United Arab Emirates during a tour of the IDEX 2015 arms expo in Abu Dhabi. Details on the much needed arms deal were scarce, with Ukrainian interior minister Anton Herashchenko vaguely noting it would involve the “delivery of certain types of armaments and military hardware to Ukraine.”

Ukrainian and UAE companies have previously worked together in the development and production of BTR-3 personnel carriers. Notably, the UAE Army maintains the second largest detachment of Russian-made BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles in the world outside of Russia.

Poroshenko had also reportedly planned to meet with chief Pentagon weapons buyer, Frank Kendall, at the show with the intent of finally securing U.S. weaponry to defend Ukraine from the ongoing Russian invasion.

In addition, Ukrainian companies were involved in several multi-million dollar contracts, including joint development of Superhind Mi-24 attack helicopters with a South African firm, as the country aims to expedite its military modernization process, Poroshenko later said in a news release. Ukraine’s Air Force has been battered in the conflict.

The Ukraine deals coincide with a flurry of activity to bolster military support in the Baltics, with Lithuania announcing a planned reintroduction of military conscription. The Lithuanian government’s motion will see its armed forces increase by 45% in size. Meanwhile, U.S. Soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment took part in a joint parade with Estonian forces in Narva, a city directly on the border with Russia. It was the second time U.S. forces took part in the annual parade, marking the 97th anniversary of Estonian Independence.

UK stuns Europe by sending troops to Ukraine

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The United Kingdom stunned officials across Europe with a unilateral announcement that it would send 75 troops to Ukraine within the month to train the country’s embattled forces in four skill sets – infantry, intelligence, logistics and medical.

“Over the course of the next month we are going to be deploying British service personnel to provide advice and a range of training, from tactical intelligence to logistics to medical care, which is something else they have asked for,” UK Prime Minister David Cameron said on Feb. 24.

“We will also be developing an infantry training programme with Ukraine to improve the durability of their forces. This will involve a number of British service personnel; they will be away from the area of conflict but I think this is the sort of thing we should be helping with.”

EU officials in Brussels first learned of the decision when contacted by the Kyiv Post for comment, and were unable to provide one. The EU already has two military attachés in Ukraine but they are not involved in operational or training activities.

The French Embassy in Kyiv were similarly taken aback, saying they were focused on today’s peace talks in Paris as the foreign ministries of France and Germany tried to resuscitate a still-born cease-fire between Russia and Ukraine.

But speaking to the House of Commons’ liaison committee, Cameron said it would be “miraculous” if the second Minsk peace deal, brokered by French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, held. He expressed concern that the Black Sea port city of Mariupol would be Russia’s next target, arguing for tough new sanctions in the face of such an eventuality.

“What we are seeing is Russian-backed aggression, often these are Russian troops, they are Russian tanks, they are Russian Grad missiles. As I said the other day, you can’t buy these things on eBay, they are coming from Russia, people shouldn’t be in any doubt about that,” he said.

“People will be looking at Mariupol as the next potential flashpoint, and if that were to happen, I think the argument for further action would be overwhelming. I think that would be the view of countries like Poland, the Baltic states and many others.”

“I think what we should be putting into place is a sense that if there is another Debaltseve then that will trigger a round of sanctions that will be materially different to what we have seen so far.”

The UK decision followed hot on the heels of the Paris meeting’s conclusion, implying impatience and frustration with yet another fruitless round of talks with an intransigent Russia.

A vague statement given at the meeting’s close by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that “France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine remain determined to continue taking action in this [the Normandy meeting] format and to do their utmost to ensure that the commitments are upheld and the crisis is resolved,” but offered nothing on concrete steps the respective parties would take to resolve the conflict.

Earlier today Ukraine accused separatist and Russian troops of continuing an assault on the Ukrainian-held village of Shyrokyne, just 10km from Mariupol, and failing to withdraw its heavy weaponry from the front line as required by the Minsk plan. Ukraine said that enemy tanks and artillery were moving southwards to the Mariupol area, and refused to withdraw its own artillery as long its forces were under attack.

The UK move will likely exacerbate divisions within the European Union over the Ukraine crisis, with countries like Greece and Hungary opposing fresh sanctions against Russia for fear of short-term damage to their economies.

However, economic instability in Europe continued to reflect political instability in the region, with the euro dropping against the dollar throughout the conflict, from 1.39 euros to the dollar in May 2014 to 1.13 today.

When asked how the UK’s position related to that of other EU member states, Cameron said:

“Britain’s role is to be at the tougher end of the spectrum, to try to keep the European Union and the United States together, and I think we should be clear about this pattern of behaviour we’ve seen from Putin now over many years.”

For its part, the US has already pledged a full battalion of advisers to help train three Ukrainian battalions in spring this year, at the Yavariv training center in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv.

The US Army Europe commander, Lt. General Ben Hodges, said American soldiers will teach the Ukrainians how to better defend themselves against “Russian and rebel artillery and rockets.” Training will also include securing roads, bridges and other infrastructure, treating and evacuating casualties, and operating in an environment where Russians are jamming communications.