In the starting of 2021, Russian military presence increased near the
border of Ukraine, which resulted in full-scale war by February 2022. This
proved to be the largest attack on a European country since World War II.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin, published an essay in July 2021 asserting
the oneness of the people of Russia and Ukraine.
In his speech, he went on to
challenge the very statehood of Ukraine. Russia chose to put forth
justifications for the full-fledged invasion of Ukraine. But these excuses do
not stand in the face of scrutiny. This article critically analyzes these
Russia is member of the UN and Article 2 (4) of the UN Charter provides that
"member States shall not use force against the territorial integrity and
political independence of any State." Russia hid behind Article 51, i.e. under
the justification of self-defense. Russia claimed that it used force to protect
the People's Republic of Donetsk and Luhansk.
This claim of Russia does not
constitute valid arguments on two points. First, ICJ in Nicaragua gave few
essentials for right of self-defense such as armed attack, request by state for
help, principles of necessity and proportionality. In Russia's case, Ukraine or
any NATO member has not threatened or attacked Russia. Second rightly pointed
out by Anthony Dworkin that Donetsk and Luhansk are not independent states.
They are not internationally recognized by any State except Russia.
Russia made claim of genocide of Russian speaking people from Ukraine. These
claims can be debunked on two points. First allegations of genocide by Russia
are unsubstantiated by any evidence. Secondly, Genocides are governed by The
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide which
authorize to take steps to prevent and punish it.
ICJ finds that the Convention
do not authorizes any party to use force to prevent alleged genocide. In
discussion of case, Ukraine vs Russian Federation
, ICJ has provided that the
acts taken by contracting party to prevent genocide must be in conformity with
core principles of UN, more specifically, Article 1 of UN charter "maintenance
of peace and security". Russia itself being permanent member of Security Council
would have put its claim/case of alleged genocide before UN bodies. On this
basis, ICJ ordered Russia to immediately suspend its 'special military
operation' in Ukraine.
Putin in his speech has tried to defend itself by recalling past
interventions of US and its allies in Afghanistan, Syria, Libyan, Iraq. There is
contextual difference. US intervened in middle east State like Syria and
Iraq when it was facing challenges of terrorism. Also these comparisons are
liable to be dismissed on the ground of irrelevancy. Harvard Professors Blum and
Modirzadeh also made remark that this justification has little weight at
court because one (illegal) act of use of force does not justify other.
- New satellite images show continuing Russian military buildup on three sides of Ukraine | CNN
- Putin's Ukraine War Is the West's Biggest Test Since World War II (foreignpolicy.com)
- Article by Vladimir Putin On the Historical Unity of Russians and
Ukrainians President of Russia (archive.org) https://archive.org/link-to-article
- Russian Federation | United Nations https://www.un.org/russian-federation
- Conditions for the lawful exercise of the right of self-defence in international law (shs-conferences.org)
- International law and the invasion of Ukraine | ECFR https://www.ecfr.eu/link-to-article
- Putin's claims that Ukraine is committing genocide are baseless, but not unprecedented (theconversation.com)
- Allegations of Genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Ukraine) | ICJ-CIJ
- International Court orders Russia to 'immediately suspend' military operations in Ukraine | UN News
- Special military operation - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_military_operation
- 'No other option': Excerpts of Putin's speech declaring war | Russia-Ukraine war News | Al Jazeera
- Timeline of the Syrian civil war - Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_the_Syrian_civil_war
- Yemen profile - Timeline - BBC News https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-14704951
- The war in Ukraine and international law - Harvard Law School | Harvard Law School