Kremlin thinks West would not respond even to a small nuclear bomb attack, Kovalyev says

Sergey Kovalyev, the head of Memorial, a Russian historical and civil rights society

Sergey Kovalyev, the head of Memorial, a Russian historical and civil rights society 

2015/11/16 - 06:08 • Analysis & Opinion, Politics

Sergey Kovalyev, the head of Memorial, says that he fears that there are many in the Kremlin who believe that the West today would respond to the explosion of a small nuclear device in their countries not with force but rather with a call for negotiations, something that only encourages additional bad behavior on Vladimir Putin’s part.

And that danger is compounded, he suggests, by numerous “examples of Western forgetfulness,” a willingness to forget what Putin has done in the past in the name of somehow getting better relations. No one is talking about Abkhazia and South Ossetia now; soon, they may not be talking about Crimea.

“When you are dealing with a bandit, you must understand that politeness toward him is completely inappropriate,” the human rights campaigner says. “In fact when you speak with him in normal polite language, he considers that he has won. And in that he is thinking correctly,” from his point of view.

“But he is not a candidate for suicide. If he understands that he will not avoid the most decisive response to his boldness, then he will not undertake desperate steps.” Tragically right now, Putin and his regime assume that they can act and that the West will not respond with anything more than words and calls for talks.

And there is no question that Putin is a bandit not only in his actions against Ukraine and Syria but also against Russians, Kovalyev continues. The Memorial head says that he has “very serious suspicions” that Putin is involved in “an extraordinarily large number of murders” while he has been president.

At present, he says, he has “evidence only in two cases – the murder of [Chechen leader Zelimkhan] Yandarbiyev in Kuwait and the murder of Aleksandr Litvinenko in London.” In those cases, it is impossible that advance knowledge of these killings was not known “at the highest levels.”

As for the murder of Boris Nemtsov, Kovalyev says, he can allow that it was “an unasked for gift by Kadyrov,” although he continues that “certain services in Moscow could have suggested that this gift should be given.” But the reluctance of Western governments to push harder for investigations of these crimes will only encourage Putin to think he can commit more.

Edited by: A. N.

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  • laker48

    Ukraine should quietly rearm in nukes. It has everything in place; the uranium, the enrichment technology, the know-how and the research and manufacturing facilities. It also has some means of delivery, or it can team up with Poland that has modern air-to-surface AGM-158 JASSM missiles and won’t hesitate to use them if attacked.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Ukrainian defence industry certainly has the capability of building rockets- Kuchma was manager at a rocket manufacturing plant in Dnipropetrovsk- and also the capability of developing its own cruise missiles. The difficulty with the strategic missiles is that almost all silos were destroyed after the country abandoned its nuclear forces, bar one (I believe near Vinnitsa) which is maintained as a museum. Constructing both silos and missiles would take time and couldn’t be done on the quiet, however.

      As the demented dwarf tore up the Budapest Memorandum, it is no longer valid, so the Ukrainian government is no longer bound by its terms and thus free to rearm with nukes. I believe Yulia suggested as much after the dwarf invaded the Crimea.
      Giving up the country’s nukes was the most stupid thing Kravchuk ever did, though formally it was under Kuchma that the Ukraine signed Budapest.

      • laker48

        The Dwarf is chaotically thrashing around with RuSSian treasury leaking on average $12 billion per month, and Western Europe is paralysed by the migrant crisis. Poland will have a stable, pro American, pro-NATO, pro-Ukrainian, anti-RuSSian and lukewarm towards the EU government, and very likely the US’s support to build an alliance of countries between the Baltic and the Black Sea called the Intermarium and separating Italy, France and Germany from RuSSia, what is in the strategic interest of Canada, the US, the UK, the Scandinavians and even China that can quietly support this initiative. Ukraine can play a key role in this alliance.

      • Calibra

        Ukraine is bound by the NPT which would mean intimidate the most harsh sanctions by the UN would be applied to Ukraine.

        • laker48

          The UN is toothless.

        • Brent

          You are too funny!!!! “The most harsh sanctions by the U.N.”……are they going to waive their finger very angrily? What were they able to do to stop Russia from blocking the investigation into its murder of 298 innocent people aboard MH17???

          By the way, any Syrian refugees camping out in your front yard yet?

    • Calibra

      Just a few small problems with that idea, Ukraine doesn’t have the uranium (has to buy it), doesn’t have the money to develop it and it isn’t allowed to have nukes, it would immediately be sanctioned if they so much as tried by the world just like Iran was.

      • laker48

        You’re out to lunch, I think.
        1. It does. http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Nuclear-fuel-cycle/Uranium-Resources/Supply-of-Uranium/
        2. It has nuclear power plants and has the technology to enrich it using the spent rods;
        3. It very likely stashed enough weapon grade uranium to build some 100 warheads during the 1992 nuclear disarmament, as it wouldn’t have been Ukraine if it hadn’t cheated;
        4. Poland has a lot of uranium from the Czech Republic in exchange for sulphur acid the Czechs buy from its copper smelters to extract uranium.
        Does this address you “concerns”?

        • Calibra

          Still there is the ‘small’ problem of the NPT and the automatic sanctions and paraih status for Ukraine, no EU, the entire UN against them and Poland will steer clear away from them as Poland would also be sanctioned by the UN and it’s EU membership at least suspend if not down right kicked out.

          • laker48

            Do you know that Poland was close to having nuclear weapons in the 1970s despite Soviet occupation? Who is sanctioning Israel? Who tore the 1992 Budapest Memorandum? BTW, the only pariah state in Europe is now the Fascist RuSSian Federation. Where’s a will, there’s a way.

            Ukraine can clandestinely build 100 nuclear warheads within less that two years without anybody knowing this. It’s not that expensive as you think, as delivery systems are several times more expensive than the warheads alone. Construction of 100 tactical warheads would cost no more than three billion dollars, more likely between one and two billion dollars, what is not prohibitively expensive. Those warheads paired with US-made Polish systems of delivery would pose a credible deterrent. Nobody plans to invade RuSSia.

          • Calibra

            Israel, india and Pakistan are not a member of the NPT.

          • laker48

            Doesn’t matter. If the Ukrainians do have the nukes RuSSia won’t enforce without risking nuclear retaliation, while the US and the UK will veto RuSSian motions on the UNSC. The violation of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum is remembered.

          • Calibra

            You don’t get it, a violation of the NPT does not require a UN SC decision, it is fully automatic and Ukraine will become just as isolated as Iran was until it gives them up again, no travel, no banking, no trade and closed borders.

          • laker48

            You’re out to lunch again; it does. Could you, please, provide legal evidence, not agitprop BS, supporting your outlandish claim? Ukraine has also a legal option to terminate the Treaty without any consequences after coming up with a proper notice. The participation in this treaty is VOLUNTARY and can be revoked upon a proper notice..

          • miguel

            Laker48, I think your right and your knowledge pertaining to the materials is exemplary.
            However, I think you have missed one item.

            This may be realistic if Ukraine was able to end its corruption and its infiltration by Russia aligned people and GRU and FSB agents throughout Ukraine, not to mention the various organized criminals who report back to Moscow.

            This may be able to be accomplished 10 years from now, after all those battles to push out Moscow aligned agents.

            But today, it would get reported, and vova and the various other heads of Moscow would use a first strike if they even got a whiff of this happening.
            All over Ukraine you have Moscow aligned agents, then you also have the various peace loving ‘hippies’ who would come out of the woodwork and start making reports in the press.
            The large amounts of concrete to make silos and bunkers would be kept an eye on as well.
            I believe Ukraine has to import that.

            Although there is an argument where I might be wrong, RF is promoting Iran having them, and I would not be surprised at some point in the near future that Iran would point them towards Russia once they acquire them to protect their interests along the Caspian Sea.
            But honestly, I think the way RF is got its large anti NATO propaganda and vova pushing we will use any deterrent to eliminate a threat, Ukraine would have a very difficult time pursuing this realistically in this day and age.

          • laker48

            The black horse here is Poland that also has everything needed to get the warheads manufactured in cooperation with Ukraine on Polish territory if it agrees to collude with Ukraine.

            Poland will have a tremendous air power by 2022 of 64 F-35s, while it already has 48 F-16s Block 52+ and 40 AGM-158 JASSM with an unspecified number of AGM-158 JASSM ER (over 1000 km range) to be delivered in 2017. http://theaviationist.com/2014/12/18/jassm-mass-production/#disqus_thread

            Poland has earmarked over $40 bn on modernisation of its armed forces by 2022 on top of 2.1% of its GDP spent on defence annually. The ball is now in Ukraine’s court and I have a gut feeling that Saakashvili may replace Yatsenyuk first time next year, as he has an excellent interpersonal relationship with the Chairman of the ruling party in Poland Jaroslaw Kaczynski who calls the shots from the back seat. We may see a lot of action over the next four years.

            Such a cooperation would be very effective as both countries have well-developed and modern military industrial sectors that could join their potential and streamline their production thus realising economies of scale and scope. The greatest barrier Ukraine has to overcome is ubiquitous corruption, while the bright spots are thousands of commissioned Ukrainian junior officers educated i Polish military schools and universities and hundreds of senior officers on the general staff level trained in Polish NATO general staff educational facilities.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            I’d like to see the combination of Yulia as Pres and Saakashvili as PM. Poro and Yats are, to say the least, too lethargic, too complacent. Yulia is no friend of the oligarchs; she tried to take them down a peg as PM but failed, I suspect in large part because of opposition from Viktor Yu.
            I don’t think Yulia would be a great peacetime Pres, just as Churchill wasn’t a great peacetime PM, but she would be a great wartime Pres, and the country is at war.

          • laker48

            Yulia, IMHO, has too much behind her ears and is a spent force, but the duo Poroshenko-Saakashvili may get it done provided Poroshenko hires a Western investment bank or a law firm to pass control of all his personal and business assets into a so called “blind trust” as all Western politicians do while in office.

            Poroshenko and Saakashvili have been close friends since their university years in Kyiv and only Yatsenyuk is a bit of a shotgun partner of Poroshenko. Yatsenyuk made his close to a billion dollars as a lawyer for many oligarchs, so he’ll be likely moved sideways as an ambassador to the US or the UK as soon as it’ll be legally possibble at the end of this year.

            Poroshenko, as Yushchenko’s Foreign Minister, secretly started in 2009 negotiations with the US about striking a military alliance with Ukraine the transcripts of which were published by Wikileaks some half a year ago. Since Ukraine isn’t and won’t be in a position to pose a serious deterrent for RuSSia for the next few years, it needs a consummate negotiator and strategic player Poroshenko for sure is.

            Judging by the parliamentary expose of ascending Polish PM Beata Szydło and already announced official visit of President of Poland Duda in Ukraine in December, Poland and Ukraine will accelerate and widen mutual and within the concept of the Intermarium close cooperation in the diplomatic, economic and military fields.

            This is the Pilsudski doctrine the new Polish government has declared to follow that “there’s no strong and independent Poland without strong and independent Ukraine”. There’s not a single reason for the RuSSians to jump for for joy after the Polish government change.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Yulia is anything but a spent force, as her results in both presidential and Rada elections show. A spent force doesn’t get 12.8% of the vote and finish second in a presidential election despite little active campaigning. As for Poroshenko, he has shown little of substance. Both he and Yatsenyuk are underperformers who have done next to nothing to tackle the corruption in the country, despite widespread support for action to do so.
            I submit that appointing Saakashvili as governor of Odesa was merely intended as a lightning conductor, to be able to say “Look what I’m doing.” The reality is that Saakashvili is being thwarted at every step and Poro and Yats are doing nothing to back him up. Poro won’t be re-elected if he continues to twiddle his thumbs. Yats is finished; in retrospect Yulia shoud be glad that he deserted her.

          • laker48

            Hard to say. I don’t want to speculate, as I’m not privy to inner workings of Poroshenko and Yatsenyuk as well as Tymoshenko. None is flawless, though.

            From what I see and hear from my business partner living in SE Poland close to the border with Ukraine, corruption among Ukrainian border guards and customs officers is still rampant, and gouging bribes from EU citizens entering Ukraine is ubiquitous, while Polish customs officers and border police usually turn a blind eye on small time “smugglers” bringing to Poland few bottles of vodka or few cartons of cigarettes to have the ends meet.

            Corruption seems to be endemic in Ukraine and it’ll likely take a generation to bring it under control, as it was the case in Poland where corruption never was a national problem, even under Soviet occupation. Time will tell if this time Ukraine breaks out of the vicious circle of Soviet-inherited, self-destructive habits.

        • Dagwood Bumstead

          I’m not sure whether Kyiv actually managed to stash any weapons grade uranium or plutonium. Moscow would have known exacty what was in the Ukrainian SSR at the time of the SU’s breakup and it’s quite probable that Washington, Paris and London knew as well. If any had gone missing when the Ukrainian arsenal was being dismantled there would have been some very awkward questions for Kuchma indeed, at the very least from Moscow and probably from the others as well: “Leonid, we’re missing xxx kgs of plutonium. Where are they????” Sorry, that one won’t hold water in my opinion, though your other points are valid.
          You can’t keep something like a stash of weapons-grade material secret for very long. Sooner or later somebody will blab, see Mordechai Vanunu for instance, who blabbed about Israel’s nuclear programe to the Sunday Times in 1986. Heck, even Pyongyang’s programme became known, and the Ukraine is by no means as closed as North Korea is.

          • laker48

            I remember that period pretty well. I already lived in Canada, but was travelling on business to Europe, Russia and Ukraine included. There was unimaginable mess in both Ukraine and RuSSia. The RuSSian army was totally demoralised, drunk, and stealing and selling everything civilians wanted to buy. An international inspection found a huge chemical weapon depot with the main gate secured by a piece of barbed wire instead of a padlock and guarded by five totally stoned by alcohol conscript soldiers.

            Having known Ukrainians and the lax system of inventory control in the Red Army I’m ready to bet a few hundred dollars that the Ukrainians stashed more than that. Corruption in both RuSSia and Ukraine was much worse than now, so you’ve got the benchmark. Ukraine has always been corrupt and corruption is still its deadliest enemy, not weaker by the week RuSSia.

          • Dagwood Bumstead

            Making a few T-72s or several truckloads of AK-47s “disappear” is one thing, but weapons-grade uranium or plutonium is quite another, especially in significant quantities. From what I remember from secondary school physics the critical mass of U-235 is about 50 kg (correct me if I’m wrong), so for ONE bomb you need at least that amount. For umpteen bombs you need that much more. While it’s conceivable that the Ukrainians “retained” some uranium or plutonium, I doubt whether they would have managed to get away with “retaining” very much. Even if corrupt Russians might have turned a blind eye, I doubt whether the US, UK or French inspectors would have done so.

          • laker48

            It’s immaterial now, as the Ukrainians have enough weapon grade material from spent fuel rods in their nuclear power plants.

          • laker48

            A charge of 100 kg of weapon grade Uranium is a brick 14 cm X14 cm X14 cm.

      • Brent

        And don’t forget to mention that Ukraine signed the Budapest Memorandum agreeing to give up its nukes in exchange for its sovereign territory to be recognized…..wait, are they only signatories that you think should be forced to abide by that document?!?!?!?

        You still make me howl with laughter at your ridiculous comments….

  • laker48

    Polish-Ukrainian cooperation leading to the development of tactical or even small strategic nukes is closer than we expect and we may see this happen before 2022, as Poland will have US-made, the world’s best in their class means of delivery from both the air and under the sea..
    Here’s a quote from “The Aviationist”:

    “The JASSM-ER can be considered to be a strategic weapon, so it will most probably boost Poland and NATO’s deterrence capabilities in eastern Europe: will it be an effective deterrent? Hard to say. For sure, the air-launched cruise missiles are not the only measure the Polish Armed Forces are acquiring at the moment to face the Russian threat. There are additional programs, including the procurement of NSM (Naval Strike Missile) systems.

    Secondly, as one of The Aviationist readers pointed out, the M6.5 upgrade for the F-16 fighters may mean that they would be capable of using the AIM-120D air-to-air missiles that have been reserved exclusively for the USAF so far.

    These missiles may provide a significant boost of the Polish Viper’s air-to-air capabilities, which would be implemented in the shadow of JASSM deal, but this claim has not been officially confirmed. The Air Force has already stated that it analyses potential implementation of new armament that may be used by the Viper thanks to the envisaged upgrades.

    Lastly, as Polish MoD Secretary of State said the use of the JASSM missiles will not be externally limited by the US Authorities. This means that Poland will be free to use the missiles at its own will, if needed.”

    Here’s the link to the full column: http://theaviationist.com/2014/12/18/jassm-mass-production/#disqus_thread