Is international law effective? Ukraine


are sanctions effective?

WHat about self-determination have a role to play in Crimea?

Does the invitation from Yanukovich validate Russia’s actions?

How about the Libyan precedent work?


Simon Chesterman.

normative universe of intl law

crimean time has been changed to Moscow time.

people discussed reversing annexation of Crimea.

Is the UN  charter’s collective security system powerless when a permanent member of the UNSC commits aggression? Yes.

Are sanctions effective against Russia? No.

What about precedent of Libya, Iraq and Kosovo? West should be contrite. We should be sceptical about Putin’s comparisons

The USA likes the way the UN Security Council can do nothing against its actions.


Russia invitation from Yanukovich. He regrets inviting them and withdraws it.

No word about self-determination for Tatars.

Threat to Russian citizens in the Ukraine. No real threat.


vote in Crimea is that it was an illegal vote.

declarations of independence  do not always violate intl law. See Kosovo

article 2.4 of Charter of UN – Russia has broken this.

Russia ignores UN General Assembly resolution against it.

NATO states in Baltic will be protected.

to hurt Russia cut off energy imports. but that would hurt Germany and Italy.

travel bans on officials.

one opinion poll gave Putin 82% support . 2014.

Russia expelled from G 8

Russia has lost face. 51 Bn dollars on Sochi. More than all the money spent all previous winter olympics

Putin cited Iraq and Kosovo.

Kerry said Russia is behaving in a 19th century by invading on a trumped up pretext. Kerry voted for liberation of Iraq

liberation of Kosovo – 1999. No UN resolution. it was sui generis

Putin quoted UN arguments on Kosovo.

Kiev’s rule was nothing like as bad as Belgrade. the US was not trying to annex Kosovo. Kosovo became independent after 10 years of UN rule

Russia attacked Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Kiev was heart of Russia in 13th century

Solzhenitsyn said that USSR should be broken up but Ukraine, Crimea and Belarus should remain with Russia.

75% of all Russians identify all of the Ukraine with Russia

Russia is articulating a spheres of influences of influence global order. left tens of millions of co citizens out of Russia

China makes similar maritime claims in South China Sea

in USA should be clear that meretricious legal arguments that are politically expedient can be used by another side.




2014 revolution in Ukraine is not good for intl law

legality of new Ukrainian Govt is zero

intl law requires other states to refrain from interference in internal affairs of a revolutionary state

if a govt is anti constitutional or cannot secure human rights then another situation arises

then neighbouring states can monitor the situation and take appropriate action

internal situation in the Ukraine. There are characteristics which are total absence of rule of law

power of the govt is not based on law.

there is political instability . chaos and violence effects other countries

unfair distribution of resources. corruption – that is Ukraine, [sounds like Russia]

armed groups marauding.

Ukraine is a concern of the intl community

circumstances gives rise to an appropriate reaction by its neighbours due to extraordinary conditions

self determination. secession of Crimea. Russia has not annexed it. it has been reintegrated

self determination. people’s will has been shown.

self determination is in UN Charter. it is a human right

principle has been revealed in other intl law instruments

each people has the right to self determination

recognised by the UN’

it is to be realised free choice without interference

it presumes there is a possibility between internal self determination (autonomy_) or secession .

It is admitted on conditions to join another state

a choice of political status.

there is no intl law to regulate this process

recognise this . declaration of 1970. Vienna Declaration

secession may be legitimate in some cases.

if people live in a state that does not respect human rights or their right to self determination then people can exercise self determination and choose the form.


NINA KHRUSCHEVA at NY school of law

Russia govt’s language is Orwellian

it is not an annexation of crimea  but reintegration.

Putin’s annexation speech about crimea – claimed Bolshevik who gave some land to Ukraine did so illegally.

If we deconstruct history then we can see Donetsk was called Yuzovka because John Hughes founded it – British guy.

Kharkiv was Ukrainian originally. it was russified.


Bolsheviks were illegal said Putin and so it current Ukrainian govt

post Bolshevik USSR – was it always illegal. everything done was illegal?

in eastern Ukraine define themselves as Soviets.

1954 – apologised for her family.

decision was made with inconsistencies – Stalin’s constitution of 1936 was still used

that 1936 constitution adopted before great purges.

all laws were arbitrary. what are these inconsistencies in Putin;s view

citing legal matters in USSR time is v risky. borders were changed all the time.

Transcacausia was made then broken up

1956 Karelo-Finnish republic was dissolved.

Law was used as politics.

transfer was legal according to soviet constitution

territory could be transferred as both parties agreed. no referendum. kremlin told them to

1991 yeltsin allowed self determintion

1992 crimea adopted a constitution to be independent. trilingual. 1995 ukrainian parliament annulled that and made crimea autonomous

if kiev government is a result of a coup then crimea returns to 1992 constitution


Putin’s justification was bogus since it is political not legal

he favours law a la carte

chechnya. fought for independence. Russian territorial integrity trumped self determination but in crimea self determination counts

Kosovo – this is a false comparison.

Tatars in Crimea should get independence since they are original people there

Kharkiv was Ukrainian in 1600s.

Russia claims its rights are abused. this is bogus. it is Ukrainians who ARE BEing abused and killed

law misused as politics ceases to be law internationally or domestically


PETER OLSON. former NATO legal adviser

worked for NATO

this is not just part of NATO Russia rivalry

different views on NATO actions since 1991. it is clear why former soviet states wanted to join NATO\\

no NATO act can justify Russia’s violation of the Ukraine.

how are we to evaluate Putin’s references to Iraq, Kosovo or Libya.

Russian case is based on self determination.

No UN resolution in relation to Crimea but there was in Libya and Iraq

Russia claimed it had no troops in Crimea

Russia tries to change the subject by citing Iraq etc… and create moral ambiguity

to convey unpleasant messages that this is the way of the world

self determination is not pertinent to Iraq and Libya.

intervention in Iraq was legally problematic

legal case there was built on shared and real concerns about WMD against UN security council resolutions. there was no annexation. Libya no annexation. Iraq is sovereign

Crimea is not sovereign

no fly zone in Libya – mandate to take all necessary measures to protect by Libyan civilians against attack.

Kosovo is pertinent. case of self determination. Putin discusses this. key difference in Crimea occurred in context of intimidation by Russian Army’

differences – oppression of atrocitiies of Tatars

1244 resolution – preamble to that in Kosovo

1244 – resolution removed Yugoslavia from sovereignty. there was status process

declaration of independence was after a free election

supposed western unilateralism – these were all UN processes.

Iraq followed UN resolutions.

nothing of this happened with respect to Crimea. It has not been raised in the UN security council


IS UN collective security council powerless against a permanent security council member?


enforcement is feeble. permanent member veto.

charter envisages roles for regional organisations. countries can organise for self defence like NATO. NATO is defensive and prudent


sanctions . some bite. should be intensified.

UN General Assembly called on intl organisations not to recognise annexation of crimea.

Crimea example is attack on territorial integrity and political independence.

– make a mockery of human rights and self determination

–  attacks procedural norms. such issues to be debated in UN. Other states have done the same. It may be the first to treat the UN as irrelevant’

striking in euro context

territoral integrity and HR have been accepted as normative in europe more so than anywhere else in the world

unease in europe

other states have also done wrong.



question on self determination. how large must the community be.  Washington DC independence?

Can any community anywhere declare independence?

Ukrainian constitution allows for territorial revision if the whole country agrees

in Crimean referendum there was no option to maintain status quo.



self determination is for a people not a community.

he says a community can self determine in another way – as an autonomous region or federal state not necessarily as a sovereign state

In Crimea cannot be simplified. The Ukrainian constitution is invalid. the legal situation is unclear.

there were a few editions of the Ukrainian constitution but they all had a provision that the Ukraine was a unitary state with Crimea as an autonomous republic.

crimea voted in a few referenda for independence in the 90s.



Russia treats the UN as irrelevant

from Russian viewpoint – there was a belief that ambassador Bolton treated UN with contempt

this created a precedent. that is 90% of Putin’s attitude.



one ambassdor in one administration was rude to the UN. That does not mean the US should never have a view on UN matters.

He disliked Bolton

US record there has been much respect for UN.

the US took the UN seriously even under Bolton

this issue which is one which led Russia to feel that it was necessary to use force against the norms of territorial integrity.

he thought it was not right to raise in the UN.



said Russian troops did not cross the Ukrainian border

some troops took part in Crimea  securing operation

Russia helped local self defence forces from armed people from Kiev from defending the land.

No one was killed

Poroshenko ordered his men to use force against Ukrainian people – this has been published. it was a criminal order. his soldiers refused to obey.

cf – Libya where Russia supported Gaddaffi when he proposed to kill his own civilians.

responsibility to protect. But that was not the reason why Russia went in even if true. Only discovered later/



there is an attempt at a solution in Cyprus. Only land that recognise North Cyprus

not making a value judgment on Crimea – there is not appetite for standing up to this

Putin would not take Crimea to UN because he does not see it as an intl issue



no personal basis for knowing what USA has promised Russia to induce Russia to agree to UN Security council resolutions on Libya..

Gaddaffi’s departure from his hideout was not necessarily to leave the country. he made threats against the population

he used regime forces to attack Libyan civilians months. was not bright

there were attacks on Misrata which were indiscriminate

legalistic arguments are apt in intl law



there is a clear violation of article 2.4 – Russia has used arguments like this before in Abkhazia and S Ossetia and gotten away with it. Moral authority of USA undermined by Iraq



precedents cited by Putin – there is no direct parallel between these examples and Crimea. He expressed that we live in a turbulent world.  Other states do not obey intl law. Breaking intl law can be neutral



Crimea is an intl issue despite Putin not treating it that way.

his motivation is reconquering USSR

he is a rival of the USA. he is aggrieved by US hubris

what the lion can do the dog cannot.



this is not about US moral authority though that is impaired.

intl community’s respponse  to violations of fundamental norms of post war intl law

it is bad to get caught up in tu quoque arguments rather than looking at what is happening here

it is dangerous





About Calers

Born Belfast 1971. I read history at Edinburgh. I did a Master's at UCL. I have semi-libertarian right wing opinions. I am married with a daughter and a son. I am allergic to cats. I am the falling hope of the not so stern and somewhat bending Tories. I am a legal beagle rather than and eagle. Big up the Commonwealth of Nations.

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