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Russia - Ukraine Conflict: An International Law Viewpoint

As the clamour for war grows louder, much conjecture has arisen about how the West will respond to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The majority of suggestions have focused on implementing sanctions, such as shutting Russia out of the international banking system and declaring it a pariah economy. The vocabulary used is almost exclusively that of a realpolitik geopolitical confrontation between a growing Russia and a defensive West - and how the latter might prevent the former from succeeding.

As members of the legal profession, we are concerned that the international legal framework governing the use of force is conspicuously absent from public debate on Russia's invasion. In a pre-dawn TV broadcast on February 24, President Putin warned that Russia could not feel "secure, develop, or exist" because of what he saw as a continuing threat from contemporary Ukraine.

Tanks and troops from Russia, Russian-annexed Crimea, and its ally Belarus attacked airports and military headquarters right away. Cities have been bombed, communities have been destroyed, and millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes. Despite this, Russia prohibits the use of the terms war and invasion, and threatens journalists who use them with imprisonment. According to President Putin, this is a special military operation.

Many of his arguments for war were incorrect or irrational. He declared that his purpose was to "emilitarise and de-Nazify Ukraine, as well as to defend those who had been bullied and subjected to genocide. In Ukraine, which is a functioning democracy run by a Jewish president, there has been no genocide.

How could I be a Nazi?
says the narrator. compared Russia's invasion to Nazi Germany's invasion during World War II, said Volodymyr Zelensky. The senior rabbi of Ukraine and the Auschwitz Memorial both condemned Russia's falsehood.

The United Nations General Assembly reaffirms the importance of the United States Charter in strengthening international law.

Recalling all States' commitments under Article 2 of the Charter to refrain from threatening or employing force against another country's territorial integrity or political independence, or in any other way that is contrary to the United Nations' goals, and to settle international disputes peacefully.

Recalling also that all Members have a duty under Article 2 (2) of the Charter to fulfil in good faith the commitments they have accepted in line with the Charter in order to ensure that all Members have access to the rights and benefits that come with membership.

Taking note of Security Council Resolution 2623 (2022) of February 27, 2022, in which the Council asked that the General Assembly hold an emergency special session to discuss the issue highlighted in document S/Agenda/8979. Recalling General Assembly Resolution 377 A (V) of 3 November 1950, "Uniting for Peace," and noting that the Security Council's lack of unanimity during its 8979th meeting precluded it from carrying out its basic responsibility for international peace and security.

Recalling also its resolution 2625 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, in which it approved the Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation Among States in accordance with the United Nations Charter, and reaffirming the principles contained therein that a State's territory shall not be acquired by another State as a result of the threat or use of force, and that any attempt aimed at the partial or total annexation of a State's territory by another State shall not Recalling its decision 3314 (XXIX) of December 14, 1974, which defines aggression as the use of armed force by one state against the sovereignty, territorial integrity, or political independence of another state, or in any other way that is in violation of the Charter.

Taking into consideration the need of sustaining and building international peace based on freedom, equality, justice, and respect for human rights, as well as creating cordial ties among nations regardless of their political, economic, and social systems or degrees of development.

Recalling the Helsinki Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, signed on August 1, 1975, and the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances in Connection with Ukraine's Accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, signed on December 5, 1994.

Condemning the Russian Federation's announcement on February 24, 2022 of a "special military operation" in Ukraine. Reaffirming that no territorial gain can be justified by the threat or use of force. Concerned about reports of strikes on civilian targets like as homes, schools, and hospitals, as well as civilian deaths, including women, the elderly, disabled persons, and children.

Recognizing that Russia's military operations in Ukraine's sovereign land are unprecedented in Europe, and that prompt action is essential to protect this generation from the scourge of war. Endorsing the Secretary-statement Generals of February 24, 2022, in which he remembered that using force against another country is a repudiation of the principles that every nation has committed to preserve, and that the Russian Federation's present military offensive is a violation of the Charter.

Condemning the Russian Federation's plan to beef up its nuclear-weapons readiness. Concerned about the worsening humanitarian situation in and around Ukraine, with an increasing number of internally displaced persons and refugees in need of help. Concerns have also been demonstrated about the conflict's potential effects on world food insecurity, as Ukraine and the geographic area are one of the world's most important areas for grain and agricultural exports, at a time when millions of people are facing famine or the imminent threat of famine, or are experiencing severe food insecurity in several parts of the world, including on energy security.

Acknowledging the Secretary-efforts, General's as well as those of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and other international and regional organisations, to assist de-escalate the situation in Ukraine, and advocating continued dialogue.

"India has ties to countries embroiled in the conflict - economically, security-wise, educationally, and politically; India's many requirements are linked to these countries," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during a speech in New Delhi. He went on to explain that India is always calling for peace and dialogue because of its ties to both countries. "The continuous violence affects every country on the earth." "India is committed to peace and believes that all conflicts can be handled through dialogue," the Prime Minister stated.

India and 34 other countries had previously voted against a UN General Assembly resolution denouncing Russia's military actions in Ukraine. In a UN Security Council procedural motion, India voted against summoning a General Assembly session on the Ukraine crisis.

Nearly 22,000 Indians, mostly students, have been evacuated from the most vulnerable districts of Ukraine, including Kharkiv and Sumy. "It is reported that there was talk of shattering the morale of the country even while hundreds of Indian students and citizens were stranded in Ukraine," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. More than 50 Russian-speaking officials from the Ministry of External Affairs have been dispatched to Ukraine to carry out Operation Ganga. On-the-ground decisions on evacuation within war-torn areas will be made by a special team led by a joint secretary. Ukraine departed from New Delhi as well.

It's now or never to take action. International law is significant not just in terms of how it leads to punishment, but also in terms of how it prevents violations from occurring in the first place. Irrespective of whether anyone is charged, some authority - whether the ICC, Ukraine, or even the United Nations General Assembly - should explicitly and openly warn Russia that an act of aggression is a serious breach of and a crime under international law.

Written by: Shashwata Sahu, Advocate, LL.M., KIIT School of Law

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