Russia’s War of Aggression against Ukraine from the Perspective of International Law
The “right to war” (jus ad bellum) has been museum-like at least since the UN Charter. It belongs to the former Jus publicum Europaeum (European international law). Equally antiquated is the “just war”, a concept coined by the Romans (“justum bellum”), albeit in the sense of the Pax Romana. Today, the “Pax Americana” applies, followed by the “Pax Russica”, and in perspective, the “Pax Sinica” is added. International law, created after the Second World War, has as its most important task the maintenance of world peace, hence it is known as jus pacis (law of peace). International law (more accurate formulation: public international law) is based on seven fundamental principles, which are generally considered like international “constitutional principles” and have jus cogens (peremptory) – character (in short: Prohibition of the threat and use of force (the most important objects of protection are the territorial integrity and independence of the state), the sovereignty of the state, the right of self-determination of nations, the prohibition of interference in the internal affairs of other states, peaceful international cooperation, peaceful settlement of disputes, and treaty compliance pacta sund servanda). .
In international law, there is only self-defense as a necessary response in case of attack (Article 51 of the UN Charter). The Russian Foreign Minister spoke of dangers to Russia arising from Ukraine’s desire for NATO membership. In this context, he mentioned the term self-defense. Putin was more specific and spoke of Russia’s right of self-defense under Article 51(7) (but there is no such thing) of the UN Charter. In essence, however, it is a preemptive strike (pre-emptive strike), but strictly forbidden under international law and therefore considered a violation of international law. It was also waged as a “blitzkrieg” and without the required declaration of war. Russia’s war of aggression blatantly violated the above-mentioned fundamental principles of international law and, at the same time, overturned the peace order in Europe that had been created with difficulty and hardship over the past decades. Therefore, the war of aggression can be qualified as a crime in itself, as the UN “Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (“Friendly Relations” Declaration) of 1970 clearly emphasizes: “”A war of aggression constitutes a crime against peace which entails responsibility on the basis of international law.” The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court also speaks unequivocally of the ”crime of aggression” in Article 5, letter d).
See in detail:
-Panos Terz, The science of international law, ISBN: 978-620-3-97855-1, Saarbrücken 2021
-Panos Terz, Problemas seleccionados de derecho internacional, ISBN: 978-620-4-10191-0, Saarbrücken 2021
-Panos Terz, Панос Терц, Отдельные проблемы международного права, ISBN-13: 978-620-4-10170-5, Saarbrücken 2021;
-Panos Terz, Παναγιώτης Δημητρίου Τερζόπουλος, Επιστήμη του Διεθνούς Δημοσίου Δικαίου, ISBN: 978-620-0-63275-3, Saarbrücken 2022.
Prof.em, Dr.,Dr.sc.,Dr.habil., international law expert.
publ.in: Zeit, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Focus, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Stern, Wiener Zeitung (20.4.22), NZZ (11.5.22), Berliner Zeitung (14.5.22, 27.6.22, 13.7.22), FAZ (4.6.22), Zeit (15.7.22), Süddeutsche Zeitung (11.8.22).