By Moshood Olajide
The value of veneration for the territorial integrity of states establishes the foundational standard rule in international law. This norm is enshrined in international instruments – ranging from the resolutions of the United Nations, regional and bilateral agreements and international treaties. The above explanation is the antithesis of the ongoing power flexing between Russia, Ukraine, and the West where the imagination of possible invasion looms daily.
Apparently, global power players are uncertain whether if Vladimir Putin’s request is granted, won’t he demand for more later? And in not trying to make the mistake of the second world war where despite appeasement policies of the West towards the German Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, he always wanted more leading him to send troops to occupy Rhineland in 1936 in violation of the treaty of Versailles, reunify Austria with Germany in a bloodless forceful measure in 1938 to achieve expansive territory, and finally the invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1939 by Hitler activated the second world war. From a historical standpoint, the West has definitely learned from this, prompting the need for the United States to deploy troops to Germany, Poland and Romania in order for swift military intervention in case of possible Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Where does the genesis of the current crisis begin? The origin of the crisis can be traced to 2014 when the Ukrainian President loyal to Russia was swept out of power by popular revolution with Viktor Yanukovych fleeing to Moscow for a protective shield. Russia in response annexed Crimea – a regional part of Ukraine, but historically and culturally aligned to Russia with a population of more than 55% ethnic speaking Russian.
It is important to assess the legality of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. First of all, the Soviet Union under Nikita Khrushehev in 1954 had transferred Crimea to Ukraine in compliance with the resolution of the Politburo of the Communist party as at then – therefore, the initial transfer in 1954 was legal, peaceful and follow the processes of uti possidetis under international law and the subsequent annexation by Russia is illegal in clear violation of the 1975 Helsinki final act and the Paris 1990 charter for a new Europe.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea on the basis of historical and cultural affinity is also a nullity under international law. In the Land and Maritime Boundary case between (Cameroon v. Nigeria: Equatorial Guinea intervening), Judgment, 1. C. J. Reports 2002, p. 303, the ICJ firmly held that: Nigerian government historical consolidation as claimed by its legal representatives cannot in any event give Nigeria title over Bakassi. The court further stated that Nigeria, accepting to be bound by the 1975 Maroua declaration and the 1913 Anglo – German agreement had recognized Cameroon sovereignty over Bakassi. Therefore, by the application of this principle and authority, an attempt of geographical reconfiguration by Russia is illegal.
Back to Ukraine, while Russia has every right to express security concerns over its alleged claim of NATO’S encirclement of Eastern Europe, at the same time, it begs the question if Putin’s action in mobilizing close to 100, 000 troops to Ukraine’s border is tenable considering Kiev has not even fired a single shot. Again, international law is clear on situations like this. The charter of the United Nations, (paragraph 4 of article 2) is against the employment of force except in the case of legitimate self – defense (Article 51). The clear interpretation of this is that a country engulfed in any of this scenario, must have a choice, not to use force but to report to the Security council of the United Nations or the International court of justice (ICJ).
Also, requests for the non – admission of a sovereign country like Ukraine and some Eastern European countries into a security alliance meant to protect their territory is unfounded on a legal basis.
The question now is: What is the way out? Diplomacy remains the way out and refocusing attention to the economic and democratic prosperity and the instability in Eastern Europe can de – escalate tensions – Poland is faced with several disagreements with the EU, Belarus is been ruled by long -time dictator – Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, Hungary’s democracy and human rights record is nothing to write home about while as promising as Ukraine seems to look within geopolitical circles, endemic corruption with the oligarchs ruling from behind continues to plague it.