EXPLANATION TO THE RUSSO - UKRAINIAN WAR - PART 1

INTRO
In 2012, I had an exclusive opportunity to write a featured article in the maiden edition of the Voice of Kharis Magazine to educate readers on the World Wars. Among other things, one of the significant things I remember highlighting in that educative piece was, the devastative impact the world wars had on our world. Little did I know that a decade down the line, I will be addressing a broader audience on a hint of a possible Third World War (God forbid!).

Today, I publish Part 1 of three write-ups I will be doing on the aforementioned topic to explain what Russia’s invasion of Ukraine means, the reasons the former has advanced to justify its action, whether that is acceptable according to international law, its implications for international peace and security and whether it can lead to WWIII.

A HISTORICAL ANTECEDENT
Following the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in the early 20th century at the end of the Cold War, a lot of ‘smaller’ countries within eastern Europe broke out leaving the successor of the Union to Russia. Some of the countries that broke out of the USSR as free states include, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, Latvia, among others.

Zooming in to focus on Ukraine, the country shares a border with Russia to the east and for a fact, has some native Russian speakers within its territory who are Ukrainians. These native Russian-speaking Ukrainians are estimated to be about 20% of the population and occupy a third of the Donbas region, particularly within the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk in the rust belt of eastern Ukraine. Undoubtedly, Ukraine has strong cultural ties with Russia with some scholars arguing that the country was even instrumental in the re-building of the cultural identity of the Commonwealth of Independent States with Belarus and Russia in the early 1990s.

SECCESSION OF DONETSK AND LUHANSK IN EASTERN UKRAINE
In 2014, there was an interesting turn of events that saw the removal of Ukraine’s President, Viktor Yanukovych who was pro-Russian by its Parliament on grounds of corruption and failing to sign a political association and free trade agreement with the European Union. A political power gap ensued in Ukraine as a result and Russia took advantage of this power gap to annex (the forcible acquisition of one state's territory by another state) Ukraine’s Crimea. The people of Donetsk and Luhansk backed by Russian forces equally took advantage to declare their territory an independent Republic from Ukraine. Since then, Ukraine has considered this secessionist movement as a terrorist organization that is unrecognized and is still part of Ukraine.

I will hasten to clarify that, the concept of secession is not alien to the discourse of International Politics. To secede means, to break away from a State you use to be part of. Situating in context, it is important to understand the characteristics that define a state. According to the Montevideo Convention (1933), a state is defined by 4 characteristics which are Population, Territory, Government, and Sovereignty. Appreciation of this concept will help us understand why Palestine for example, is not recognized by the United Nations as a State because it does not have a defined territory hence, accorded an observer status at the UN just as the Papal / Apostolic Nuncio.

In light of the above, the intention to secede from the territorial space of Ukraine which the international community recognizes only tantamount to rebellion hence, the former has every right to crack the whip on rebels who threaten its territorial existence. That is why the Government of Ghana, for instance, went so hard on the Western Togoland secessionist group. It is on this wise that, the Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy before he ascended to power in 2019 promised to end the conflict that was prevalent within eastern Ukraine where the Russian-backed secessionist movement dominated.

RUSSIA’S DECISION TO BACK THE SECESSIONIST MOVEMENT
Following various rhetoric of Ukraine’s President Zelenskyy particularly on the country’s intention to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and events in Eastern Ukraine, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin on Monday 21st February 2022 officially recognized the self-proclaimed secessionist territory of Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Luhansk People's Republic (LPR) as a legitimate territory hence, took up measures to protect their interest through the guise of ‘Responsibility to Protect (R2P).

What is R2P?
The doctrine of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) was coined by International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) and was unanimously adopted by UN member states in 2005. Under this doctrine, each state is expected to protect its own population from genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity but in a situation where a state fails to protect its citizens from massive human rights violations and abuse; it forfeits a certain degree of the sovereignty it wields to the international community such that the onus lies on the international community to intervene immediately through the various provisions set out in the UN Charter”.

It is important to understand that, in most cases, these interventions turn to take the form of military invasion, military occupation, and bombardments which happens to be the characteristics of the crime of aggression.

REASONS FOR RUSSIA’S ATTACK ON UKRAINE ACCORDING TO PRESIDENT PUTIN
According to President Putin, ridding on the back of the doctrine of R2P, he sought to intervene militarily in Ukraine to protect the secessionist movement who had sought help from Russia following the alleged brutal and inhumane treatment meted out to them by the Kyiv government. In one of President Putin’s earliest telecasts on why he invaded Ukraine, he noted that he intends to “De-nazify Ukraine and to protect the will of the secessionist in Eastern Russia”. The same view was reiterated by his Foreign Affairs Minister, Lavrov. Russia’s Putin was so intentional about executing this act of invasion that, he threatened any country who will make a mistake of intervening or retaliating will fiercely face Russia’s aggression with an instant impact because they are ready for any consequence.

What is Invasion?
In international Politics, to invade means to enter another country by force or hostility with large numbers of soldiers in order to take possession of that country without respect for its territorial sovereignty. I will hasten to add that, the concept of invasion is not new to international politics as it has been a tool that countries have used to achieve various objectives. For example, Iraq under Saddam Husein invaded Kuwait in 1990 to annex it as part of its 19th territory. In that similitude, the USA following the terrorist attack of 9/11 invaded Iraq in 2003 on grounds of disarming Iraq with weapons of mass destruction, to end Saddam Hussein's support for terrorism, and to free the Iraqi people from the tyrannical rule of Saddam.

WHAT DOES INTERNATIONAL LAW SAY ABOUT INVASION?
In part two of my write-up, I will highlight what international law says about one country invading another country. Particularly, I will use the United Nations Charter to drive this point home. I will then proceed in the attempt, to answer the question of whether Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is justified or not, the possible implications that it can have on Putin as a person and on Russia as a country as evidenced by the various sanctions that have been levelled against them by their arch enemy, the USA, its allies and partners particularly the E.U, Britain among others.

The last part of the write-up will then focus on whether this can lead to World War 3 or not as many have opined.

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A Pan-Africanist with great dexterity in writing. I love Politics, Diplomacy, Governance, Climate Change, Global Security and Architecture.

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Kwame Obeng

Kwame Obeng

A Pan-Africanist with great dexterity in writing. I love Politics, Diplomacy, Governance, Climate Change, Global Security and Architecture.

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