Crimea Joins Russia: What About International Law?
The deadlock in the UN Security Council combined with Russia’s disregard for Western approval have the U.S. and its allies stymied
Back on March 4, American President Barack Obama talked about the crisis in Crimea: “There is a strong belief that Russia’s action is violating international law. I know President Putin seems to have a different set of lawyers making a different set of interpretations, but I don’t think that’s fooling anybody.”
On the basis of Obama’s words, one can assume international law to be nothing beyond a set of beliefs that are classified as acceptable or unacceptable, depending on which side of the spectrum one ...view middle of the document...
Yet, the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice did not approve of Turkey’s actions.
In fact, Turkey’s claim that it acted in self-defence was pretty much in assonance with international law. On paper, the ICJ allows the use of force and military action in two cases:
1. Self-defence (as per Article 51 of the United Nations Charter),
2. In matters where the use of force is authorized by the United Nations Security Council.
Since the UNSC has not yet approved of Russia’s military intervention in Crimea, the only justification that Russia can cite for its actions is self-defence.
The Case of Crimea
Russia has already stated that its intervention in the Ukraine crisis is well justified on grounds of self-defence. Much like Turkey’s concern for Turkish Cypriots, Russian attraction towards Russian-speaking Crimean populace is more a matter of defence of a country’s nationals residing abroad and can, as such, be included within the radius of self-defence.
However, there is another side to the story. Turkey was left stranded and without international support after its intervention in Cyprus ― but Russia is not Turkey.
Unlike the Turks, Russians do have a permanent seat in the UNSC and are blessed with the power of veto. In fact, Russia did recently exercise its veto power to block a draft resolution in the Security Council (the said resolution intended to condemn the referendum in Crimea).
The outcome? Even if Russia does not justify its...