In this article we will learn more about the Russia-Ukraine history, the ongoing issues, international relations, and we will be analyzing laws in international conflict.
Ukraine is the second largest country in the Eastern Europe and has a population of around 40 million people, with Russia bordering it around east and northeast. “Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine regained its independence, and has since been governed as a unitary republic under a semi-presidential system. Shortly after becoming one of the post-Soviet states, it declared itself neutral; forming a limited military partnership with Russia and the rest of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States, while also joining the Partnership for Peace with NATO in 1994. In 2013, a series of mass protests and demonstrations known as the Euromaidan erupted across Ukraine, eventually escalating into the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, which led to the establishment of a new government amidst a notable outbreak of pro-Russia unrest across Ukraine. During this period, unmarked Russian troops invaded the Crimean Peninsula, which was later annexed by Russia; and pro-Russia unrest in Ukraine’s Donbas culminated in Russia-backed separatists seizing territory throughout the region, sparking the War in Donbas. This series of events marked the beginning of the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War, and in a major escalation of the conflict in February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Since the outbreak of war with Russia in 2014, Ukraine has continued to seek closer economic, political, and military ties with the Western world, including the European Union and NATO.”
On 24 February 2022, Russia annexed Ukraine in the most important escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War that started in the year 2014. The invasion caused Europe’s largest refugee crisis since World War II, with more than eight million Ukrainians fleeing the country and a third of the population displaced. The invasion also caused global food shortages.
A Summary of the History
Ukraine has long been a victim to Russia’s oppression. This isn’t the first time Russia had invaded Ukraine. Back to 18th century, most of Ukraine’s territory was part of Russian empire. As such, Ukraine has fought a long fight for independence and with the ongoing scenario, seems like it is continuing doing so.
“But it was a separate entity from the beginning,” historian Anne Applebaum explained on CBS “Sunday Morning”. “It always had its own language. It always had its own status inside the USSR.”
Ukraine declared its independence in the year 1991. As such in the year 2014, was the last instance where Russian attacked Ukraine. “At the time, a substantial portion of the Soviet nuclear arsenal was housed within Ukraine’s borders, and it agreed to transfer those weapons to Russia. In recent years, Ukraine’s democratically elected government has grown closer to Western Europe, but cultural ties with Russia, especially in the Russian-speaking eastern portion of the country, remained deep.”
Putin continues to claim that such aggression was simply defending ethnic Russians who live in the Donetsk and Luhansk region of Donbas. However, Russia ended up annexing the Crimean Peninsula altogether. “The annexation is not recognized by the international community, but Russia has indisputably controlled the territory since 2014.” President Vladimir Putin espoused irredentist views, challenged Ukraine’s right to statehood, and falsely, claimed Ukraine was governed by neo-Nazis who persecuted the ethnic Russian minority. On 21 February 2022, Russia recognized the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic, two self-proclaimed breakaway statelets in Donbas. The following day, the Federation Council of Russia authorized the use of military force, and Russian troops overtly entered both territories.
The invasion has received widespread international condemnation. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution condemning the invasion and demanding a full withdrawal of Russian forces. The International Court of Justice ordered Russia to suspend military operations and the Council of Europe expelled Russia. Many countries-imposed sanctions on Russia, which have affected the economies of Russia and the world, and provided humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. Protests occurred around the world; those in Russia were met with mass arrests and increased media censorship, including a ban on the word’s “war” and “invasion”. The International Criminal Court has opened an investigation into crimes against humanity in Ukraine since 2013, as well as war crimes in the 2022 invasion.
Breach of International laws
When a country fails to protect its citizens, they are forced to seek protection somewhere else. As such, individuals travel to different countries where they do not have to fear for any kind of “threat” for them and their family. The war has notes millions of migrations and at a time like this, various laws come into the picture. The threat factor is the decisive factor, notably a person has to prove the same. Few of these include, UN Charter, Geneva Convention, United Nations Human Rights Commissioner – provides ample amount of rights and protection, even the areas of international criminal law and public international law, in addition to the Hague law can be triggered. They actively work with state government to ensure the same and make sure that parties to the Conventions are applying the laws. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine violates Article 2(4) of the UN Charter, a central tenet of the charter that requires UN member states to refrain from the “use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.” Article 51 provides that “nothing in the present charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a member of the United Nations.”
During International conflicts, ICC usually investigates into the matter, a panel member is formed. Usually, these members are prominent in the field of judiciary, and belong to different countries so as to exclude biasness. “On 28 February, the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor, Karim A. A. Khan QC from the United Kingdom, announced his decision to open an investigation into the situation in Ukraine. A preliminary examination had already been launched in April 2014 upon Ukraine’s request. This examination had resulted in the 2020 conclusion of the previous prosecutor (Fatou Bensouda), that there was sufficient basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity had been committed. However, while the full investigation was put on hold as other priorities were pursued by the ICC, the investigation again became a priority with the Russian invasion on 24 February 2022.”
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, has been sanctioned by 132 states, gives you definitions on core international crimes. It also importantly establishes jurisdiction, in case of a crime that takes between two countries. Article 2 of the Statute states that in any case where countries in dispute are not signatories to the Statute, they may however, approach the jurisdiction and file an application for the same. This provided that both the countries, too agree to the jurisdiction. The process of filing the application is mentioned under Article 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16 of the Rome Statute.
The primary essential of international criminal law is to hold individual responsibility. It is the law that lays down definitions of war crimes, or crimes of aggression and against humanity. The law as such is concerned about the international community as a whole. Grave breaches of human rights tend to in many cases overlap or equal to committing international crimes, and core human rights apply in war as in peace times. “Under human rights law, states have an obligation to persecute and punish perpetrators of certain serious human rights abuses through their domestic legal systems. International human rights courts such as the European Court of Human Rights cannot persecute individual perpetrators, but can order remedies for victims of rights abuses.”
Ukraine and Russia are not party to the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute. Although Russia did sign the document it did not ratify it, eventually it withdrew the signature as well. Nevertheless, Ukraine has in occasion has declared that it recognizes Court’s jurisdiction on Ukrainian territory for the investigation of crimes. “The ICC can investigate and prosecute those who are suspected of committing the crimes over which the Court has jurisdiction on Ukrainian territory, regardless of the nationality of the suspect. This could include Russian President Vladimir Putin or other high-ranking Russian officials. The investigation also covers crimes potentially committed by Ukrainian forces and officials. The ICC conducts investigations only when states are unable or unwilling to prosecute the crimes themselves (complementarity principle).”
It is important to note that, in international humanitarian law, one needs to establish the difference between humanitarian and military object. That is that a country is allowed to use force in cases where it deems fit (Hague Law). provided that such country do not create superfluous injury and know the difference between civilian object and non-civilian object. The proportionality principle states that, casualties should be proportionate to military objective that is necessary to attain. “Identifying avenues of accountability for law of war violations raises complex practical, legal, and jurisdictional questions. As discussed in this Legal Sidebar, Ukraine is pursuing cases against Russia in the International Court of Justice and other international tribunals, but constraints on jurisdiction and enforcement may limit the cases’ practical impact. Some observers have called for the creation of a new international tribunal with broader jurisdiction to address Russia’s actions. Germany and Poland have reportedly opened investigations into whether the invasion is leading to crimes that can be prosecuted under their respective domestic laws. The United States has a war crimes statute (18 U.S.C. §2441), but it does not provide universal jurisdiction, and the Department of Justice has not prosecuted or convicted anyone for a war crimes offense under this statute. Some commentators have called for Congress to amend this statute to provide broader jurisdiction. Others have proposed amending the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act to allow civil lawsuits against Russia and attachment of Russian assets.”
This article is not intended to provide legal advice but merely provide information on current legal affairs. In addition to this, readers are encouraged to do further research as laws may have changed since publication.
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