Once again Zachary B. Wolf of CNN’s WHAT MATTERS gets it right. The invasion of Ukraine disposed of the notion of international law, rubbed NATO’s nose in the dirt, made the UN Security Council impotent to act. Read the full article: What Matters
Afraid of one organization, NATO, Putin ignored the principles of another organization, the United Nations, as well as an agreement known as the Budapest Memorandum, signed by Russia and specifically meant to protect Ukraine from invasion.
Wolf put the question “Did Putin violate international law?” to Ryan Goodman, law professor at New York Univerity and co-editor-in-chief of Just Security, an online formum. Goodman’s response: Russia has brazenly violated the core provision of the UN Charter by invading another member State. Putin’s actions are a textbook example of the crime of aggression, which was considered the suprrkieme international crime by the Nuremberg Tribunal following World War II.
Timing is everything
Russia is serving as president of the UN Security Council. Coincidence? 11 countries supported a draft resolution condemning Russia’s invasion. Russia vetoed the draft. What can be done? Member countries can go to the full UN General Assembly to condemn Russian and individually argue for sanctions, boycotts, diplomatic isolation. Most of that changed apartheid in South Africa.
Unlike Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, Ukraine is not a member of NATO. NATO has reached out to Ukraine to join, but it has not done so. Since Ukraine is not a member nation, the Russia’s invasion cannot be seen as an attack on a member nation and does not trigger Article 5 of the NATO Charter which states an attack on one member is an attack on all of them.
More Questions than answers
The system of international law is trying to work, but can it?
Are sanctions going to work fast enough?
Can we erase Russia’s leverage over Europe and protect smaller countries who are not NATO members and who fear Russia could move against them next?