U.S. State Dept. accuses Russia of acts of war against Ukraine

posted at 6:01 pm on July 24, 2014 by Noah Rothman

No, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf did not use those words, but I don’t know what else you call the claim of one sovereign nation lobbing explosive shells from their territory across the border into another nation’s territory. An oopsie? A grand snafu? Nah, let’s go with act of war.

“We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to the separatists forces in Ukraine, and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russia to attack Ukrainian military positions,” Harf revealed on Thursday.

This is the first time American officials have confirmed that Russian forces were firing heavy weaponry into Ukraine, but the evidence of this offensive has been accumulating for some time.

On July 16, just hours before President Barack Obama announced a new round of sanctions on Russian individuals and sectors of the Russian economy, and less than 24-hours before pro-Moscow militants took down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17, video surfaced online indicating a Russian volley of artillery was being fired into Ukraine.

Given that this latest major escalation of hostilities in Europe after a month of major escalations has been confirmed, continued European dithering on stiffer sanctions is inexcusable. That said, inaction on the part of Europe is likely to continue.

As the French (!) intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy wrote recently in the pages of The New York Times (!!),”In European parlance, this is called the spirit of Munich — appeasement. And it is a disgrace.”


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Another one

Schadenfreude on July 24, 2014 at 6:05 PM

Very likely. Russia did warn Ukraine that it will retaliate for Ukrainian army shelling a Russian village.

Nevsky on July 24, 2014 at 6:05 PM

#CmonGuysKnockItOffWeMeanIt

rogerb on July 24, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Yep and we had an agreement with Ukraine to protect them against Aggressors that have Nuclear Weapons in exchange for them giving theirs up, but we said, sorry never mind.

Johnnyreb on July 24, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Another Obama foreign policy “success”. How exactly does that reset button work again?

bobthm3 on July 24, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Folks..Calm down!!..John Kerry can handle this..Nothing to see here..Move along..:)

Dire Straits on July 24, 2014 at 6:11 PM

This aggressive posture of Russia against Ukraine started last March, shortly after the end of the Olympics in Sochi. Now if the US had been selling weapons to the Ukraine government in Kiev, this wouldn’t be happening now. Or at least the Ukrainians would be shooting back.

Steve Z on July 24, 2014 at 6:12 PM

No, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf did not use those words, but I don’t know what else you call the claim of one sovereign nation lobbing explosive shells from their territory across the border into another nation’s territory. An oopsie? A grand snafu? Nah, let’s go with act of war.

Well, in that case Ukraine committed an act of war when it fired a shell across the border into a Russian village, killing one Russian civilian and wounding others.

Jon0815 on July 24, 2014 at 6:12 PM

Unusually blunt for State.

rbj on July 24, 2014 at 6:15 PM

obama can do Munich.

GaltBlvnAtty on July 24, 2014 at 6:17 PM

WWBD – What Would Biden Do?

JoeHanson on July 24, 2014 at 6:20 PM

Given that this latest major escalation of hostilities in Europe after a month of major escalations has been confirmed, continued European dithering on stiffer sanctions is inexcusable.

Wow, Noah. Geopolitics isn’t really your strong suit, is it? First, you don’t apply economic sanctions when your opponent can hit you back with even worse economic damage AND his populace has a greater capacity to absorb pain. Second, when you share a land border with said adversary, you better have the military horses in the barn to make sure that he doesn’t see your economic sanctions and raise you one military adventure.

Have a look at the orders of battle of the various European countries and you’ll know none of them wants to risk an accidental shooting match especially since they know that Chicago Fats doesn’t have their back.

dreadnought62 on July 24, 2014 at 6:20 PM

Nevsky

Sure, sure, and the Poles invaded the Reich, remember?

TarasBulbous on July 24, 2014 at 6:20 PM

Shiite Flows Downhill—-
Just as Putin and other terrorist thugs are embolden to commit lawless, criminal, hostile acts of aggression by the whimpy-ness of jerk OBOZO, so too is OBOZO embolden to commit lawless, criminal, hostile acts of aggression by the whimpy-ness of jerk Boehner.

Thus, in a sense, one can say that self-serving spineless, gutless Repub-o-cRAT weasel Boehner is, in essence, responsible for everything BAD that is happening in the world, in general, and America, in particular. He is aided and abetted by the feckless House GOP, which is now dominated by despicable Repub-o-cRATs/RINOcRATs who do nothing to uphold and defend the US Constitution -or respect its “checks and balances” -that they took an oath to do….

MicahStone on July 24, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Putin to moon U.S. Department of State tonight at 8:00 Eastern Time!

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 24, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Why the hell wouldn’t Vlad do this. He sees no consequences for his actions from the US/NATO/EU. Obama is a limp noodle and everyone knows it…

Aplombed on July 24, 2014 at 6:27 PM

Putin’s crime, Europe’s cowardice?

Europe’s foreign ministers failed to agree new sanctions against Russia for its alleged role in the downing of MH17 despite a push by Britain, Sweden and a group of eastern European countries for an arms embargo to be imposed on the Kremlin, the Financial Times reports:


The ministers instead asked EU officials to draw up wider-ranging measures – but only if Russia fails to co-operate with the West in the future. Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief, said that among the options on Thursday would be to call for an emergency summit of EU leaders to debate “tier three” sanctions, which target sectors of the Russian economy rather than individuals.

“It would be wrong to interpret lack of EU action today as European weakness,” said Mujtaba Rahman, head of European analysis for the Eurasia Group risk consultancy. “Sanctions policy in Europe has become more hawkish, and given the trajectory of this conflict remains escalatory, EU sector sanctions are likely later this year.”

In Ukraine, Europe is widely seen as waffling, the New York Times reports.

“It looks like they will not impose any strict sanctions,” said Svitlana Khutka, an associate professor of sociology at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy in Kiev.

“Why? Because they say they are very concerned, deeply concerned, very, very concerned, very much concerned, so very deeply concerned,” she said in an interview. “You just don’t believe that they are concerned, because it is quite evident that they have their own interests.”

“Nowhere is the European conundrum clearer than in the Netherlands, a tiny nation of 16 million but one of the wealthiest in the European Union,” Thomas Erdbrink writes for the Times:

For more than a decade, the Dutch have been forging closer ties with Russia, emphasizing a growing trade and economic partnership while pointedly ignoring Mr. Putin’s regional ambitions.
Shell, the Anglo-Dutch oil giant, which has its head office in The Hague, is one of the largest foreign investors in Russian gas fields in Siberia. Shell is the largest corporation in the Netherlands, and its stock is widely held in the nation’s pension funds. If Shell loses money, the pensions of Dutch teachers, civil servants and many others suffer.

As a result, the ties between Shell and the government are extremely close, and the company’s welfare inevitably influences policy, analysts said.

“They have direct access to everybody in the establishment,” said Sweder van Wijnbergen, who was the secretary general of the Ministry of Economic Affairs from 1997 to 2000. A former boss, Hans Wijers, then the minister in charge of the economy, sits on the Shell board of directors. “Naturally, Shell will try to prevent any sanctions against Russia,” Mr. van Wijnbergen said. “Of course, the government ultimately makes its own decisions.”

To see the European Union acting so pusillanimously is very discouraging, says Bernard-Henri Lévy, a philosopher, the author of “Left in Dark Times: A Stand Against the New Barbarism”:

Under the circumstances — with Mr. Putin having not yet agreed to back off in Ukraine, much less in Crimea — how can France morally justify its plan to deliver to Russia two Mistral-class warships, now being fitted out in the western port of St.-Nazaire? Do we want them to become the crown jewels of a Russian fleet off Sebastopol and, perhaps, Odessa?

France wants to hold on to its arms contracts for the jobs they are supposed to save in its naval shipyards. Germany, a hub of operations for the Russian energy giant Gazprom, is petrified of losing its own strategic position. Britain, for its part, despite recent statements by Prime Minister David Cameron, may still not be ready to forgo the colossal flows of Russian oligarchs’ ill-gotten cash upon which the City, London’s financial district, has come to rely.

“In European parlance, this is called the spirit of Munich — appeasement. And it is a disgrace,” he writes for the New York Times.

This is not the time to give Putin more time, says Carnegie Europe analyst Judy Dempsey:

European leaders have been making that mistake repeatedly since Russia annexed Crimea in March. Not only have most European leaders de facto accepted the annexation of Crimea, they have encouraged Russia to meddle and destabilize eastern Ukraine even further—precisely because the European response has been weak and divided and the two rounds of sanctions were simply insufficient to change Putin’s mind.

Resist We Much on July 24, 2014 at 6:28 PM

Maybe Obama can go over there with his motorcade. It seems to stop everything else wherever it goes.

Hillary’s reset, moving right along…

WestVirginiaRebel on July 24, 2014 at 6:29 PM

TarasBulbous

I never claimed it’s true. It may or may not be. Ask Guardian (who I linked) if they checked it.

What is true, is that they made a statement indicating [made up or not] retaliation.

However, given a Ukrainian army track record, such as for example Ukranian fighter jet attack on civilians in Lugansk, it is possible someone got sloppy.

But then Timoshenko is on tape calling for genocide of Russians in Ukraine. (yes I know she denied it)

Nevsky on July 24, 2014 at 6:29 PM

Putin to moon U.S. Department of State tonight at 8:00 Eastern Time!

Dr. ZhivBlago on July 24, 2014 at 6:21 PM

I’ve got 2 1/2 years to go on a bet with a friend that Vlad will meet with Barry somewhere and, out of nowhere, Vlad will just reach over, put Barry in a head lock and deliver a whole box of noogies.

BobMbx on July 24, 2014 at 6:31 PM

Look I’m not saying I DON’T believe this, but… look who benefits from this, that’s right THE UKRAINIANS! Who’s to say they aren’t crossing over into Russia & firing their OWN ARTILLERY @ Ukrainian troops, huh?
(In my best Sharrukin voice)

JFKY on July 24, 2014 at 6:33 PM

FURTHER, I know for a fact that Ukrainians have been giving ethnic Russians noogies & wedgies & where is all your outrage about THAT, huh?

JFKY on July 24, 2014 at 6:35 PM

Obama might consider helping defend Ukraine, but only if they have some world-class golf resorts worth defending.

s1im on July 24, 2014 at 6:35 PM

Are the 7th-graders at State completely incapable of talking about the most serious subjects absent a hash-tag?

Another Drew on July 24, 2014 at 6:36 PM

In fact I’ll bet that most of these “Ukrainian Separatists” are really just Ukrainian Nazi Zion-Fascists, claiming to be Russians, just to get sympathy & aid for their despotic regime in Ky’iv.

JFKY on July 24, 2014 at 6:37 PM

USA Today Air Algerie jet with 116 aboard down in Mali

entagor on July 24, 2014 at 6:41 PM

Finally Ukrainian=NAZI, well except for the lack of a “Z” but that’s just because Ukraine-NAZI’S are trying to fool you…. Just say’n…all this could be True, IF you are willing to believe a bunch of Leftwing Nazi Zionist Propaganda or you can believe Vladimir Putin, who looks dreamy w/o a shirt & loves kittens & little girls…..I know whom I believe.

JFKY on July 24, 2014 at 6:42 PM

Dear Leader has a pen, a phone, and a red line marker….

d1carter on July 24, 2014 at 6:43 PM

Crimea, gone. Eastern third of the Ukraine, going. Estonia, Latvia, et al, next. Europe, dhimmitude.

vnvet on July 24, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Satellite photos, or it didn’t happen.

HotAir Putin Fluffer on July 24, 2014 at 6:50 PM

We’ll get right on that Ivan.

slickwillie2001 on July 24, 2014 at 6:53 PM

Are the 7th-graders at State completely incapable of talking about the most serious subjects absent a hash-tag?
 
Another Drew on July 24, 2014 at 6:36 PM

 
It’s a serious enough situation that they even unfriended them and gave a thumbs down to one of their cat videos.

rogerb on July 24, 2014 at 7:01 PM

Strong letter to follow …..

BD57 on July 24, 2014 at 7:03 PM

I can see putin quaking in his boots. What is kerry et al going to hashtag them to oblivion if they misbehave. What a joke.

crosshugger on July 24, 2014 at 7:10 PM

Are the 7th-graders at State completely incapable of talking about the most serious subjects absent a hash-tag?

Another Drew on July 24, 2014 at 6:36 PM

It might be generational but all I can think of when I read these tweets is how far we have fallen. Selfies and tweets (my new band name).

“The adults are in charge.”

WitchDoctor on July 24, 2014 at 7:10 PM

Lurch suddenly understands Act of War?

I thought ‘Nam was seared, seared, into his memory.

formwiz on July 24, 2014 at 7:17 PM

Hey Marie–When we intervened militarily to help rebels overthrow Qaddafi in Libya, was that an act of war? No? Oh, right, that was humanitarian kinetic energy or something.

Try to control your outrage and redirect it into another strongly worded hashtag and more canceled visas, okay? Believe me, it’s better than an escalating military confrontation that we have precisely zero chance of winning. Ukraine is a big issue for the Russians; it is nothing to us. Keep goading Putin and he’ll humiliate us again.

Ironically, next week we arrive at the centennial of another botched crisis in Eastern Europe. So much has been learned in the last 100 years.

spiritof61 on July 24, 2014 at 7:22 PM

One other thing. If Putin had any respect for this Administration, if he were dealing with real statesmen and diplomats and not the moral equivalent of a bunch of teenage girls, he would be open to a deal at this point. The obvious Quid pro quo: A neutral Ukraine stays out of NATO and EU in exchange for stopping all Russian aid to the Donbass rebels. Ukraine regains the region; Russia keeps Crimea and has no hostile power on its borders. Both sides could claim victory.

Instead here we are taking sides when the Russians know we won’t fight. This is the price we pay for electing these miserable fools to high office.

spiritof61 on July 24, 2014 at 7:47 PM

Unusually blunt for State.

rbj on July 24, 2014 at 6:15 PM

.
It happens when Obama is “madder than hell.”

listens2glenn on July 24, 2014 at 8:00 PM

Maybe this time we need some real statesmanship. Instead of that hokey reset button from Hillary, John Kerry could get an old-fashioned kitchen timer; the kind where you turn the dial past 15 and it ticks its way down to a resounding *Ding!*

He could have it labeled “1984″ and have a nice photo op somewhere saying Don’t make me turn this clock back, Vlad!

Dolce Far Niente on July 24, 2014 at 8:06 PM

So?

What are we going to do? Write them a stern letter?

Talk is cheap Obama.

Skywise on July 24, 2014 at 9:25 PM

We all know how Munich dithering turned out the last time…

unclesmrgol on July 24, 2014 at 10:55 PM

#DontMakeMePullThisCarOver

GWB on July 25, 2014 at 9:01 AM