Is Putin Committing War Crimes?

 

 

christopher_lee180-11

15th February 2016

London

You cannot fix Syria by military means.  That’s what we’ve heard from Western diplomats and politicians for five years. The last year President Putin sent in his bombers. President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron repeated the mantra.  You cannot do it with bombs.

“Just watch me,” said Putin.

He was reminding the Obama-Cameron axis that they had done more hand-ringing than a new widow but had fixed nothing with their tactics – backing useless rebels and thanks to pressure from $contract rich Saudi Arabia failing to back the two states that could take on ISIS, Iran and Syria.

Putin went in firstly because he could see that Syria needed nothing more than back up to beat up on the rebels.  True, or so the corridor Russians agree, he knew he was about to bomb places like Aleppo back to the stone age, but so what?  That is the Russian way.  The Soviet Union and capitalist driven Russia have always done it this way.

Diplomacy?  Fine.  Go along with it. Even suggest 1 March cease fire. In the meantime bomb anyone who thinks Russia is going soft.  When there is an agreement to move in aid Russia is not tactically stupid.  If you move in aid, rebel groups get a breather and move in more weapons.  So just keep bombing.

Putin wants the old days of flotillas Kashins and Krivaks in command of the Eastern Mediterranean.  He would like a submarine loitering anchorage off Hammamet. He wants his bit of the Mediterranean back. It is not an East Ukraine-like  power grab. He simply says he is hand enough of being the guy they are condescending about or shot at when he arrives at G-something phot0-shoots.  Look at his body language when has to get on the end of conference picture.  He is not urbane.  He is Putin, ex-KGB thug in a suit that does not fit his gym-built frame.

All that is understandable and the West has never grasped it and couldn’t do much about it anyway. The West has no power other than to set up yet another Geneva-Vienna meeting to which the main players do not go.

But there is anther question to be asked: has Putin’s bombing operation been so murderous that it is more than a conventional raiding.  Putin is fighting on invitation of the legitimately elected leader of a country threatened by rebellion.  That may get right up the frocks of a lot of anti-Assadists but most international constitutional lawyers would albeit reluctant have to nod that through.

The question mark is the tactic of terror bombing.  Putin’s air force has the hell-fire signature of the Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu written all over it. Civilian communities, hospitals including emergency war surgeries are being bombed repeatedly.

One UN report says the Russians are using un-guiding weapons. They are dropped, they kill and that is the purpose. Death top rebels armed to the teeth by the Western led coalition? Yes.  But also women and children.  UN figures show that more than 50 recorded dead from these raids were under 18.

So maybe the UN should start labelling statistics like this with War Crimes tags.  A waste of time.  That could be the case.  But so far Putin has justified every raid.  Western Intelligence has squadron names and commanders. Maybe, just maybe they do not want the War Crimes indictment.  Putin? Just maybe.  But just watch him.

 

 

 

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