Ireland’s independence, as a small and militarily weak state, depends more than most, on respect by other, more powerful states, of the basic tenets on international law.
By annexing Crimea and by participating in the challenge of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has already, since 2014, violated
- the fundamental texts of the United Nations,
- the statutes of the Council of Europe, of which Russia is a member,
- at least two regional treaties organizing peace in Europe and
- two bilateral treaties signed with Ukraine, as well as, in passing, the constitutions of Ukraine and of Crimea.
Now, in launching a full scale invasion of Ukraine from three sides, Russia is compounding and magnifying its original crime against international law.
It has gone further than anything the Soviet Union did as far as aggressive actions are concerned.
It is worth quoting some of the international law texts that cover this case.
Article 2 §4 of the UN Charter establishes the principles of the inviolability of borders, respect for the territorial integrity of states and the prohibition of the use of force.
The Helsinki Conference (1 August 1975) established the respect of borders in Europe and gave birth to the OSCE, of which Russia is a member. Its Charter confirms the above-mentioned principles.
It goes on to say
“They (states) also have the right to belong or not to belong to international organizations, to be party or not to bilateral or multilateral treaties, including the right to be party or not to treaties of alliance”
The Helsinki Final Act, of which Russia is a signatory, continues
“No consideration may be invoked to serve as a justification for the threat or use of force in violation of this principle” and:
“they (the States) shall refrain from any manifestation of force intended to make another participating State renounce the full exercise of its sovereign rights”
“ They will also refrain from any demand or act of control over all or part of the territory of another participating State”
“ Similarly, the participating States will each refrain from making the territory of any of them the object of military occupation or other measures involving the direct or indirect use of force contrary to international law, or the object of acquisition by means of such measures or the threat of such measures. No such occupation or acquisition shall be recognized as lawful.”
Russia is breaking all these international laws.
Furthermore, the friendship agreement signed between Russia and Ukraine on May 31, 1997 specifically emphasized the respect of borders.
Vital interests are now at stake in the war in Ukraine, as they were when Iraq invaded Kuwait.