Saturday, April 19, 2014

Russia’s Annexation of Crimea: An Analysis under International Law

Russia’s deployment of military forces within the territory of Ukraine and its occupation and annexation of Crimea have been decried by the international community as violations of international law. Yet Russia has put before the Security Council and the international media a series of defenses arguing that it has not acted contrary to international law. First, Russia argued that it acted in defense of Russian speakers residing in Crimea. Then, Russia stated that its use of force was in response to a request for military assistance by the democratically-elected head of the Ukrainian State. Later, Russia argued that it never used military force in the Ukraine; rather, it was local Ukrainian militias that stormed and occupied Ukrainian military bases. Finally, Russia argued that the annexation of the Crimea was achieved by a democratic referendum in which over 97% of Crimeans voted to voluntarily separate from Ukraine and join Russia as a federal subject.
Do Russia’s claims hold weight factually? If so, are they valid arguments under international law? My recent article in the LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom provides a legal analysis of the claims that Russia has made with respect to the annexation of Crimea. These and other Russian claims may become the subject of a future international criminal case if the ICC finds that it has jurisdiction to prosecute Russian actors for grave violations of the Geneva Conventions. Click here for the full analysis.

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