Conduct Humanitarian Rescue Exercises Now

March, 2022

Washington — To end the war in Ukraine as quickly as possible and to give hope to those now suffering, an ad hoc coalition of willing nations should mount immediate humanitarian rescue training exercises in adjacent countries.  The exercises would pre-position food, water, shelter, and medicines for delivery into besieged Ukrainian cities along with the military defenses necessary to suppress attacks on the missions.  

The exercises would include training to support the gathering of war crimes evidence by the International Criminal Court.  The exercises would be conducted through multilateral agreements, not under the aegis of the UN or NATO, and would best be located in Poland and Romania.   

These training exercises would signal Russia that large-scale humanitarian rescue efforts are being prepared in earnest, and that if Russia interferes, it will risk battlefield losses by its already under-achieving military.  The self-defense of humanitarian missions to protect civilians is countenanced under international law.  Military readiness to engage any attack on a humanitarian mission would be an integral part of the exercises.  

The nations best suited to the exercises are a combination of both members and non-members of NATO and the ICC, such as Poland, Romania, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the U.S., the Baltic nations, Hungary, Slovakia, France, and Turkey.  

The conduct of such exercises would also demonstrate that the opposition to Russia's invasion of Ukraine is not limited to economic sanctions and actions only through existing alliances, which adds to the reasons Russia should end the war before its options deteriorate further.   

Kyiv, 1971

March, 2022

Berlin — One ray of hope in the Ukraine war appeared a few days ago:  American and Russian militaries have set up a communications hotline to avoid going to war by accident.  The U.S. European Command in Stuttgart operates one end of it, as that is also the location of the NATO supreme allied commander. 

The Stuttgart site is actually in the suburb of Vaihingen and was once the German Kurmärker Kaserne, built in 1936.  It became an American post in 1952.  I worked there a half century ago. 

And traveled from there, including to Ukraine.  These are photos from an April, 1971, trip to Kyiv.   The red banner, if I'm reading it correctly, says Glory to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.  The National Opera House presented Aida. 


Look to the International Criminal Court

March, 2022

Berlin — Although I'm not physically present in Berlin at the moment, my thoughts are there because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Refugees are flooding into the city.

Memories are there, too, such as the time after the Berlin Wall came down and we hosted a young couple from Halle who were eager to travel outside East Germany.  Especially poignant is a memory of visiting the Soviet Army officers' club in Wünsdorf, south of Berlin, as soldiers were departing in 1990 to go back to Russia.  A few Americans and Germans were invited for lunch; I was among them.  We were all hopeful for better relations in the future.  

Now we are at an impasse, with no clear path to stop the killing in Ukraine.  Here is my suggestion:

If the International Criminal Court, which has already started an investigation, would move against Putin for war crimes, that would put an unexpected factor into the mix. If the West then remains solidly united and demands Putin's ouster as a condition of lifting sanctions, which are hurting Russia badly, it could motivate Russian oligarchs and generals to remove him. With Putin out, a ceasefire could be achieved between Russia and Ukraine, leaving the Ukraine government intact.  Sanctions could be lifted.  Territorial disputes could be referred to the International Court of Justice.

This does not require any UN, NATO, or individual country's action.  It limits Putin's nuclear targets because no military actions are involved, against which to retaliate.  It would send a strong message to others who might want to start territorial wars, like China.