The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a brutal murder of the United Nations (UN) Charter and several other tenets of international law, say the authors.
Prabhash Ranjan, Professor and Vice Dean, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
Achyuth Anil, international law researcher based in New Delhi.
Notwithstanding the spin offered by international relations experts on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, the unequivocal truth is this. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is a brutal murder of the United Nations (UN) Charter and several other tenets of international law.
Ironically, Russian President Vladimir Putin has invoked international law to justify Moscow’s barefaced illegal actions. But these justifications are erroneous.
Recognition of territories
Three days before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia recognised the supposedly independent territories of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine and signed treaties of friendship with these entities paving the way for Russian troops moving in as “peacekeepers”.
In doing so, Russia seems to rely on the controversial theory of remedial secession, which posits the unilateral secession of a territory from the parent state in the most extreme cases.
However, international law, beyond the context of decolonisation, does not recognise a general right to unilateral secession within the principle of self-determination. Even if an arguable case could be made for remedial secession, it requires a very high threshold such as severe violations of human rights and systemic oppression of ethnic Russians by Ukraine.
Russia’s claims of the genocide of ethnic Russians are not backed by any evidence. Ukraine has moved the International Court of Justice on the issue of alleged genocide. In any case, Ukraine expressly agreed to recognise the autonomy of Donetsk and Luhansk under the Minsk Accords with Russia, thereby promising to protect the right to self-determination of these territories.
Therefore, Russia’s claims have no basis in international law. In recognising the statehood of Donetsk and Luhansk, Russia has violated Article 2(4) of the UN Charter by undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
Published in: The Hindu
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