Over the centuries, world politics has operated on the basis of Hegelian dialectics which involves creating a problematic (thesis), causing a reaction to it (antithesis) and finally giving a solution to it (synthesis). Likewise, we are today after a month of conflict between Russia and Ukraine: Thesis (launching the attack/conflict), Antithesis (political/economic sanctions) and Synthesis (agreement/conflict resolution if reached).
The genesis of this conflict between Russia and Ukraine goes very deep into its roots taking us back in time. Ukraine was part of the Russian Empire for centuries before gaining independence in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Since then, the Ukrainian state has sought to forge ever closer ties with the West.
In December 1994, the “Budapest Memorandum of Understanding” was signed by Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom, according to which the signatories made promises to each other, in the framework of the deatomization of the former Soviet republics, after the destruction of the Soviet Union. Ukraine had promised to remove all Soviet-era nuclear weapons from its territory, send them to disarmament facilities in Russia, and sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Ukraine has kept its promises. In return, Russia and the signatory Western countries would promote the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine as an independent state through the application of the principles of territorial integrity and non-intervention by the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, which was a Cold War-era agreement. , signed by 35 states, including the Soviet Union.
In 2013, pro-Russian President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych announced the suspension of the EU Association Agreement, to prevent the country from turning to the West, marking the beginning of a deep crisis in Ukraine’s history. There were numerous clashes between protesters, because Ukraine is geographically divided between Europe and Russia and its citizens are divided into two poles, pro-Russian and pro-Western. The Crimean Parliament decided to hold a referendum on 16.03.2014 (controversial as it was considered illegal) which would allow the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Pro-Russian separatist groups attacked troops with pro-government weapons in Dobas (Donetsk and Luhansk regions) in 2014. Both regions are populated en masse by residents of Russian descent.
In December 2019, the Paris Summit was held where the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, France stressed the full ceasefire and adherence to the Minsk Agreement signed in 2014-2015, to stop the ongoing conflict between pro-Russian separatists and the Kiev administration. The agreement included a ceasefire in the region, an exchange of prisoners while allowing the Kiev administration to make a constitutional change under which the Donbas region would be given special status. On the other hand, pro-Russian separatists would have to withdraw weapons on the Ukrainian border. Implementation of this agreement was hampered after both sides were accused of reciprocal violations of the ceasefire.
On 08.03.2022, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, held a hearing based on the request to show the interim measures presented by Ukraine, in the case related to the allegations of genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Russia considered this lawsuit as absurd, denying the commission of acts of genocide and expressing its non-participation in this session. The issue focused on the interpretation of a 1948 treaty on the prevention of genocide signed by both countries. The treaty designates the ICJ as the court for resolving disputes between the signatories. Ukraine has said that Moscow is violating and abusing the Genocide Convention by using it as an excuse for war. Ukraine has asked the ICJ to take interim measures against Russia. This is because the Court may order interim measures to prevent the aggravation of a situation, before examining the matter on the merits. On March 16 this year, the Court essentially accepted all the arguments put forward by Ukraine, for the purposes of the interim measures stage of the proceedings, and rejected them in Russia’s appearance in the Court that followed its non-appearance. Consequently, the ICJ issued an order for interim measures in the case raised by Ukraine against Russia, one of which was the immediate suspension of military operations by the Russian Federation.
On the other hand, Prosecutor K. Khan at the International Criminal Court has launched an investigation against the Russian state for war crimes and crimes against humanity, following the reference made by the states parties to this statute for the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Although Russia and Ukraine have signed the Rome Statute, they have not ratified it. Therefore, they can not be called states parties. The International Criminal Court has a duty to enforce international law and determine the guilt of individuals. Unlike the International Court of Justice, it does not view states, but rather defendants as individuals.
Currently, Ukraine is one of six potential NATO partners. The Permanent Council of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has called for dialogue between the parties, although this is unlikely to happen. Russia demands guarantees that the state of Ukraine will not become part of the North Atlantic Alliance. The UN General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The EU and the US have reacted strongly against the deployment of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border while supporting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Recently, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced Russia’s withdrawal from the EC after its membership in 1996. Meanwhile, the EC Committee of Ministers decided to exclude Russia as a member state based on Article 8 of the Statute. of the Council of Europe. Not long ago, an extraordinary summit was convened in Brussels where the UN General Assembly adopted the resolution proposed by the West on the humanitarian situation in Ukraine as well as the immediate cessation of attacks by Russia. On the other hand, the Parliament of Ukraine approved the draft law declaring Russia a “terrorist state”. The UN Human Rights Council rejected by 93 votes in favor of Russia, for serious and systematic human rights violations by Russian troops in Ukraine. Finally, Ukraine is waiting to receive EU candidate status by June this year.
As General Clausewitz wrote in his book On War: “War is a continuation of politics by other means”; “The selection and preservation of purpose is considered the main principle of war.” Likewise Machiavellianism with the saying: “The end justifies the means”. In the wake of this philosophical view when diplomacy fails, war triumphs as well as in this conflict, where the loss of lives is incalculable, the destruction of cities, as well as the departure of Ukrainian citizens as refugees to other European countries, causing the great crisis global and all this for the purpose of territorial supremacy by the state of Russia.
In conclusion of the whole analysis of this conflict, the questions that are asked are:
How effective have the sanctions against Russia been in order to really stop its attacks and massacres against Ukraine?
Has there been justice and equality with other refugees from previous conflicts compared to today’s conflict?
Associate Kristiana Kalo