Russia’s invasion: A flagrant breach of international law 

What can the international community do in the face of such aggression?

Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine is a flagrant breach of international law, threatening the very essence of an international rules-based order, which has characterised international relations since the Second World War.

Following Russia’s actions in Ukraine, by first annexing Crimea in 2014, recognising Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states and then a full-scale invasion of the country, one asks what can the international community do in the face of such aggression? Others are already posing questions as to whether Taiwan could be next.

It seems that the hands of the international community are tied, and all the international community can do is impose harsh sanctions on the Russian economy.  However, this likelihood is quite remote, given that Russia has a permanent seat on the UN’s Security Council. With China’s expected vetoing of such actions, this possibility is remote.

It seems that the hands of the international community are tied.

We have already written about Russian issues in the past starting with the historical reasons for such actions. While Russia’s justifications were unclear at first, Russian President Vladimir Putin later was quite equivocal: Ukraine should renounce NATO membership ambitions and declare its neutrality. The term ‘Finlandisation’ was being floated around as a possible solution to the Ukrainian impasse. After the Second World War, Finland remained neutral to avoid being under the Soviet sphere of influence.

We have stated from the beginning that Russia will not accept any more NATO troops on its doorstep. Moreover, having its fleet in Sevastopol surrounded by NATO troops is unthinkable for Putin. Yet, irrespective of the reasons behind such an invasion, the mere act of threatening other countries’ territorial integrity and sovereignty should not be accepted nor tolerated by the international community.

The EU has already adopted a raft of sanctions in less than 24 hours, a rarity for the EU, and will be approved by EU leaders this evening. These sanctions will target banks, Members of Parliament, Government officials, army officers and businesses. The sanctions, which were also coordinated with the US and UK, will cut off Russia’s access to capital markets in the West.

EU leaders have been summoned to a European Council meeting in Brussels this evening to discuss other actions in response to Russian aggression. However, given the EU’s dependence on Russian gas, the imposition of harsher sanctions could lead to a retaliation by Russia in halting gas exports to the EU. The EU imports 40% of its gas from Russia. Such a prospect would be a nightmare for European businesses and people, as it could cripple the EU economy and dampen any economic growth in the short term.

EU leaders have been summoned to a European Council meeting in Brussels this evening.

In a joint statement, EU Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned the attack and called on Russia to cease all hostilities and withdraw from Ukraine. The statement added that the EU is “coordinating our response with our international partners, including NATO and G7 whose leaders will meet today”.

Furthermore, a war in Ukraine could trigger a flow of refugees into the EU, and Poland had already warned that the flows of migrants could amount to millions of people seeking refuge.

Russia has defied the international community, breached international law and shred in tatters the international rules-based order aimed at preserving international peace. One wonders what the implications could be for such abuse. The Journal had already written about Russia’s activities in the Sahel region of Africa. Other superpowers might be tempted to ‘correct’ past decisions while worst still, a Third World War would not remain a distant prospect.

A red line would be crossed if China invades Taiwan, triggering a US response: MAD. (Mutual Assured Destruction)

[Mutually Assured Destruction: coined by Donald Brennan, this notion came to symbolise Cold War deterrence, which argues that nuclear weapons would lead to the complete annihilation of the warring parties.]  

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