On 24 February 2022, Russia began "a military invasion" (Western point of view) or "a special military operation" (Russian point of view) of Ukraine, in a major escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict that began in 2014. It is the largest military conflict in Europe since World War II. With over 3.1 million Ukrainians fleeing the country, the invasion has also caused the largest refugee crisis in Europe since then. Much has already been written about the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing war between pro-Russian separatist forces and Ukraine in the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in the east of Ukraine. It will be some time before international law books and articles about this new phase of the conflict appear. That is why we have now searched for blogs from international legal scientists. Here is a curated list for you of relevant international legal blogs from the past three weeks.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine was widely condemned internationally. The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution which condemned it and demanded a full withdrawal. The International Court of Justice ordered Russia to suspend military operations, and the Council of Europe expelled Russia. Many countries imposed new sanctions, which have led to economic consequences for Russia and the world economy. Various countries gave humanitarian and military aid to Ukraine. Protests occurred around the world; those in Russia have been met with mass arrests and increased media censorship, including banning the terms "war" and "invasion". Some companies withdrew their products and services from sale in Russia and Belarus.
The invasion of Ukraine was appraised by many international jurists as a violation of the UN Charter and constituted a crime of aggression according to international criminal law, raising the possibility that the crime of aggression could be prosecuted under universal jurisdiction. The invasion also violated the Rome Statute, which prohibits "the invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State, or any military occupation, however temporary, resulting from such invasion or attack, or any annexation by the use of force of the territory of another State or part thereof". Ukraine had not ratified the Rome Statute and Russia withdrew its signature from it in 2016. Below a list of blogs containing views, opinions and commentaries from people from the field.
International Law Blogs in chronological order (23 February - 17 March 2022)
March 17, 2022, by Andrew Sanger
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is a tragedy of statehood: a state no longer recognises its neighbour’s right to exist. Yet, the wider resistance to this invasion has highlighted the role of private individuals and corporations in enforcing fundamental international law norms. The involvement of the private sector has helped to globalise the conflict. Individuals and companies have come to be treated as, and to portray themselves as, global political actors in their own right, and not merely as subjects of international law. This piercing of the state’s corporate veil can be seen in several ways. Ukrainian and Western governments have explicitly called on global companies to help uphold international norms, with companies responding directly. Some global corporations are going beyond state requirements to disengage from Russia in a way that is arguably tantamount to imposing their own sanctions, sometimes using international norms when justifying their action. Some states have imposed sanctions on private Russian ‘oligarchs’ because they have interpersonal connections with Putin in hope that this will influence his decision-making – i.e. going beyond…
- ICJ Indicates Provisional Measures Against Russia, in a Near Total Win for Ukraine; Russia Expelled from the Council of Europe
March 16, 2022, by Marko Milanovic
This afternoon the International Court of Justice, by 13 votes to 2, issued its order on provisional measures in the case brought by Ukraine against Russia under the Genocide Convention. The Court essentially accepted all of the arguments made by Ukraine for the purposes of the provisional measures stage of the proceeding, and rejected those…
March 16, 2022, by Michael C. Petta
Is the recent sanctions-based seizure of a Russian cargo ship beyond French waters consistent with the high seas freedoms and exclusive flag state jurisdiction reflected in the law of the sea?
March 15, 2022, by Oona A. Hathaway
March 14, 2022, by Francine Hirsch
While Vladimir Putin and his generals continue their brutal war against Ukraine, the Russian State Duma has been furthering Putin’s campaign to crush Russian civil society.
March 14, 2022, by Alexander Lott
On 24 February 2022, the Russian Federation launched an invasion of Ukraine. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians have no possibility to evacuate from besieged cities of eastern Ukraine as the humanitarian corridors are not functioning (see here). According to media reports, the worst humanitarian situation right now is found in the port city of Mariupol…
- At War: When Do States Supporting Ukraine or Russia become Parties to the Conflict and What Would that Mean?
March 14, 2022, by Alexander Wentker
In the face of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, Western States have been scaling up their assistance to Ukraine. In addition to massive economic and financial sanctions against Russia, many States have been delivering weapons and other military equipment to Ukraine. Some States have also been sharing ‘battlefield’ intelligence with Ukraine. The US, for example, has set up…
March 12, 2022, by Oona A. Hathaway, Scott Shapir
The United States and other states supporting Ukraine should refuse to accept Putin’s outdated arguments.
- Russia’s Non-Appearance Before the ICJ Against Ukraine: Of Not So Vanishing Vanishing Acts and their Vanishingly Thin Justification
March 12, 2022, by Frédéric Mégret
On 9th March 2022, Russia announced through it Foreign Ministry that “in light of the apparent absurdity of the lawsuit” launched against it by Ukraine before the ICJ, it would not “attend the hearing” on provisional measures. One can certainly have reservations about the Ukrainian strategy of invoking the Genocide Convention even if one is…
March 11, 2022, by Kenneth Chan Yoon Onn
As the war in Ukraine deepens, the UN Refugee Agency has warned that Europe sits on the precipice of its ‘largest refugee crisis this century’. Over a million people have already fled the Russian invasion within the first seven days of conflict alone, and numbers are expected to rise exponentially. Simultaneously, while the refugee crisis grows in the West, more than 12 million people remain under siege within Ukraine, including many still trying to leave. Subsequently, calls to create ‘humanitarian corridors’ have been a major point of discussion during recent peace talks between Moscow and Kyiv, and although a cessation of hostilities has not been procured, negotiators have at least tentatively agreed to the creation of humanitarian corridors to facilitate the mass exodus of civilians from conflict zones. Although details about the operation of these corridors have been scarce, Ukrainian presidential aide Mykhailo Podolyak and Russia’s main negotiator, former culture minister Vladimir Medinsky, have specifically indicated that temporary ceasefires would be implemented ‘in places where humanitarian corridors [are] being…
March 11, 2022, by Marko Milanovic
A quick update on two important developments. First, the ICJ has put up on its website a submission it received from the Russian Federation in the Ukraine v. Russia genocide case, in which the Court’s provisional measures decision is pending. Because Russia has declined to participate in the proceedings – at least for now –…
March 11, 2022, by Matthew H. Murray
While Putin made prewar preparations to attempt to sanction-proof the Russian economy, he was not ready for the risk of a mass foreign exodus from the Russian market.
March 10, 2022, by Jaime Lopez, Brady Worthington
What are the extent and limits of the court’s jurisdiction over the conflict?
March 10, 2022, by David Priess
This week's episode goes back a decade and a half to the 2007 cyberattacks on Estonia—and brings the conversation to today.
March 10, 2022, by Jen Patja Howell
As Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine continues, tech platforms like Facebook and Twitter have been key geopolitical players in the conflict. The Kremlin has banned those platforms and others as part of a sharp clampdown on freedoms within Russia. Meanwhile, these companies must decide what to do with state-funded Russian propaganda outlets like RT and Sputnik that have accounts on their platforms—and how best to moderate the flood of information, some of it gruesome or untrue, that’s appearing as users share material about the war.
March 10, 2022, by William Schabas
Ukraine’s recent application against Russia at the International Court of Justice raises the question of the permissibility of the use of force outside the exceptions in the Charter of the United Nations for the purpose of preventing genocide. When the application is read together with the statements made by Ukraine’s…
March 9, 2022, by Carmen Pérez
“I am always amazed when I hear people saying that sport creates goodwill between the nations, and that if only the common peoples of the world could meet one another at football or cricket, they would have no inclination to meet on the battlefield” George Orwell, The Sporting Spirit (1945) Almost immediately after the invasion of…
March 9, 2022, by Marc Weller
The rush to judgment can be deceptive. A recent contribution to these pages cautions us against making instant assumptions of fact and law when considering Russia’s recognition as states of parts of Luhansk and Donetsk Oblasts within Ukraine as manifestly unlawful. Two questions arise: Do the Oblasts meet the criteria of statehood and, if so,…
March 9, 2022, by Russell Buchan, Nicholas Tsagourias
In the days following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Digital Transformation Mykhaylo Fedorov announced in a tweet the creation of an ‘IT Army’. According to reports, as many as 400, 000 people from across the world have joined. A list of targets has been published and it includes a range of governmental departments, businesses and banks in Russia and Belarus. The list has been translated into English to help foreign IT specialists conduct cyber attacks. Since the beginning of the war, the IT Army has launched a number of DDOS attacks against Russian targets and knocked offline websites belonging to the Kremlin, Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Defence. DDOS attacks have also been directed against Russian companies and banks including the Moscow Stock Exchange. Belarus’s railway network has been hacked and was taken offline with the apparent aim of disrupting Russia’s transport of troops and equipment to Ukraine. The IT Army has also…
March 8, 2022, by Michael C. Petta
During armed conflict, can neutral states seize belligerent merchant vessels on the high seas and retain their neutral status?
March 8, 2022, by Alan Z. Rozenshtein
Because Donald Trump had the good fortune of avoiding a major foreign-policy crisis during his four years in office, the United States never experienced the worst-case scenario of a Trump presidency.
Mercenary or Combatant? Ukraine’s International Legion of Territorial Defense under International Humanitarian Law
March 8, 2022, by Ilya Nuzov
On the fourth day after Russia’s February 24 armed attack and invasion of Ukraine, President Zelensky made a call for foreigners wishing to defend Ukraine to join the International Legion of Territorial Defense (ILTG), inviting individuals to contact foreign diplomatic missions of Ukraine in their respective countries (you could sign up here). Hundreds of American,…
March 8, 2022, by Marko Milanovic
‘[W]hat made me particularly happy was to see that the Committee’s decision [to award him the Nobel Peace Prize] stressed the link between defense of peace and defense of human rights, emphasising that the defense of human rights guarantees a solid ground for genuine long-term international cooperation. … Granting the award to a person who defends political…
March 7, 2022, by Saeed Bagheri
Russian military forces have intensified attacks on several fronts in Ukraine since 24 February 2022. Regardless of the Russian government’s justifications in using force against Ukraine, there is an international armed conflict ongoing between Ukraine and Russia, which requires both parties to respect international humanitarian law (IHL). On 2 March 2022, the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces…
March 7, 2022, by Dapo Akande
In this episode Philippa Webb, Marko Milanovic and I are joined by Rebecca Barber (Asia Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect) and Mike Becker (Trinity College Dublin) to examine various aspects of Russia’s war on Ukraine. The discussion begins with an evaluation of Russia’s legal justification for invading Ukraine, moving to…
Complex Disputes and Narrow Compromissory Clauses: Ukraine’s Institution of Proceedings against Russia
March 7, 2022, by Matina Papadaki
On February 26 2022 Ukraine filed an Application and a Request for Provisional Measures before the ICJ against Russia. The hearings on the application for Provisional Measures begins today. In its application, Ukraine argues that Russia falsely accused it of committing genocide in the Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts of Ukraine, which led Russia to recognizing these Ukrainian regions as states and implementing what it called a ‘special military operation’ against Ukraine. Ukraine bases the Court’s jurisdiction on the comprommissory clause of the Genocide Convention. In this way, Ukraine is attempting to have aspects of Russia’s aggression brought to the jurisdiction of the Court in so far they relate to the Genocide Convention. The invocation of jurisdiction of international courts and tribunals based on compromissory clauses has increased in recent years and led to unexpected litigation coupled with a concomitant decline in their inclusion in treaties (on these points see Fontanelli here and in this blog). Against the background of and I want to briefly touch upon how the Russian invasion of…
March 5, 2022, by Elena Chachko, Katerina Linos
The United Nations estimates that over one million individuals have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries within just one week of the Russian invasion.
March 5, 2022, by Cornell Overfield
Turkey’s current chosen path of attempting to close the straits to all warships oversteps the Montreux Convention and risks replacing a long-standing set of rules vital to Turkish security with arbitrary restrictions.
March 5, 2022, Anton Moiseienko
The viciousness of the Russian armed attack on Ukraine means that avenues for accountability are at a premium. Ukraine’s major cities, including Kyiv, Kharkiv and Chernihiv, had been withstanding a days-long barrage of indiscriminate shelling and missile strikes. War crimes have evidently been committed while Russian state…
- Russia’s “genocide disinformation” and war propaganda are breaches of the International Convention Concerning the Use of Broadcasting in the Cause of Peace and fall within the ICJ’s jurisdiction
March 4, 2022, by Talita de Souza Dias
Notice of correction by the author, as reviewed by the editors: Russia has made a reservation to Article 7 of the International Convention Concerning the Use of Broadcasting in the Cause of Peace (the compromissory clause granting the PCIJ jurisdiction over the interpretation and interpretation of the Convention) upon ratifying the Convention. The reservation reads as follows:…
March 4, 2022, by Scott R. Anderson, Damon L. Burman, Austin Fraley, Bryce Klehm, Eden Lapidor, Emma Svoboda
The United States and its allies are imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. But their effects may be felt far beyond Russia’s borders.
March 3, 2022, by Sergey Vasiliev
The unprovoked attack by Russia against Ukraine should be qualified as a crime against peace, or the crime of aggression, as defined in Article 6(a) of the IMT Charter and in Article 8bis of the ICC Statute. There are also allegations of war crimes as the Russian armed forces have targeted…
March 3, 2022, by Alain Pellet
In reaction to the incorporation of Crimea into the Russian Federation, I had written that the use of Russian armed force against Ukraine is contrary to one of the most fundamental principles of contemporary international law and can be qualified as an “aggression” (Le Monde, 14 March 2014). This applies all the more to the use of armed…
March 2, 2022, by Pavle Kilibarda
In this post I will not be addressing the legality of Russia’s use of force against Ukraine, but that of its recognition of the separatist republics in Ukraine as independent States. This recognition has been described by numerous other States as not only unlawful, but as a manifest or flagrant breach of international law. For example, the words ‘manifest’, ‘blatant’ or ‘flagrant’ appear in statements from officials coming from the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Georgia, Romania, Bulgaria and the EU’s Josep Borell, to name a few: the authors thus condemn (largely using similar wording) not just any violation by Russia, but one which is prima facie unlawful. It is this idea of Russia’s recognition being so obviously unlawful that I wish to challenge, at least to some extent. There are several ways in which we could interpret the notion of a ‘manifest violation of international law’. It could refer to the violation’s severity, which implies a violation of…
March 2, 2022, by Nico Krisch
Most questions on the law on the use of force surrounding the Russian invasion in Ukraine are straightforward. There is simply no plausible legal justification for the invasion, and Putin’s attempt at creating one through recognizing the ‘people’s republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk and then claiming collective self-defence and the need to protect them from Ukrainian ‘genocide’ is…
Will a state supplying weapons to Ukraine become a party to the conflict and thus be exposed to countermeasures?
March 2, 2022, by Kai Ambos
According to the time-honoured law of neutrality, the territory of neutral powers is “inviolable” (Art. 1 Hague “Convention (V) respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land, October 18, 1907). Parties to a conflict may therefore not use it in any conflict-related manner, e.g. to transport war material …
March 2, 2022, by Geoffrey S. Corn
Congress needs to immediately amend the War Crimes Act to align federal criminal jurisdiction over war crimes with the international law concept of universal jurisdiction.
March 2, 2022, by Daniel Byman
The war today differs from jihadists conflicts and even the more limited recent civil conflict in Ukraine, but these and other experiences offer some lessons to consider about any future role for foreign fighters.
March 2, 2022, by Ciaran Martin
Activity in the digital domain may affect the war in Eastern Europe at the margins, but it will not decide it. That should tell us something about the West’s cyber posture.
March 1, 2022, by Henry Farrell
A review of Nicholas Mulder, “The Economic Weapon: The Rise of Sanctions as a Tool of Modern War” (Yale University Press, 2022).
March 1, 2022, by Jen Patja Howell
March 1, 2022, by Rebecca Barber
The General Assembly is currently meeting in Emergency Special Session on Ukraine, and will likely pass a resolution condemning Russia’s aggression, demanding the withdrawal of troops, and urging a peaceful resolution to the crisis. Such a resolution will be an important step, but also begs the question: if these appeals for peace are not heeded, what could be…
March 1, 2022, by Niklas Reetz
In the early hours of the 24th of February, Russia launched a large-scale attack against Ukraine. By the following day, Russian forces were closing in on Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. A large part of these forces penetrated the Ukrainian territory not through the separatist regions in the east or Crimea in the south, but through the north, coming…
Over the past week, the United States and its allies have responded to Russia's military invasion of Ukraine with some unprecedented actions of their own—economic sanctions that target Russia in ways that have never been tried before, let alone applied to one of the world's largest economies over just a handful of days.
February 28, 2022, by Ralph Janik
Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an obvious violation of international law. Neither self-defense nor the entirely baseless accusation of a purported “genocide” in Eastern Ukraine serves as a sufficient legal basis and any Ukrainian concessions would be legally invalid. Russia has created a new and utterly sad textbook example of a violation of the prohibition of war – first enshrined in the Kellogg-Briand Pact – and the use of force in article 2(4) UN Charter, one of “the most fundamental principles and rules of international law” (as the ICJ recently re-confirmed in its February 2022 judgment in the reparations phase of the Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo case, para. 65). One must also not forget that it had violated this obligation much earlier, i.e. by annexing Crimea (see UNGA resolution 68/262 from 1 April 2014), supporting separatists in Eastern Ukraine and sending special forces (which triggered a parallel international armed conflict). The preceding troop movements in the region, tied to military exercises and demands of “security guarantees”,…
February 28, 2022, by Francine Hirsch
Vladimir Putin’s rewriting of the history of World War II set the stage for his war in Ukraine.
February 25, 2022, by Katherine Pompilio
In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the United States and its international allies are pursuing an unprecedented set of economic sanctions measures against Russia. But what do these measures entail? And how effective are they likely to be?
February 25, 2022, by Ingrid Wuerth
Now is the time for a narrower, more focused international legal order dedicated to a strong core of sovereignty-protecting norms that preserve the territorial status quo and promote international peace and cooperation.
February 24, 2022, by Dominic Cruz Bustillos
A full Ukrainian and Russian transcript with a complete English translation of President Zelenskyy’s remarks made hours before the Russian invasion of his country.
February 24, 2022, by Oona Hathaway, Scott Shapiro
It’s too early to write the obituary of the postwar international system.
February 24, 2022, by Scott R. Anderson, Zachary Badore, Anastasia Bradatan, Alexander Herkert, Bryce Klehm, Rohini Kurup, Jaime Lopez, Katherine Pompilio, Anna-Marie Robertson, Thomas G. Warschefsky
The reactions reflect how the world sees Russia’s actions, a perception that is relevant to both international law and policy surrounding Ukraine moving forward.
February 24, 2022, by Sara Bjerg Moller
As events continue to unfold, it’s helpful to rehash some relevant background about NATO’s role.
February 24, 2022, by Jen Patja Howell
Evelyn Douek and Quinta Jurecic spoke with Olga Lautman, a non-resident senior fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis—who has been tracking Russian disinformation in Ukraine—and Shane Harris, a reporter at the Washington Post—who has been reporting on the crisis.
February 23, 2022, by Robert Chesney, Steve Vladeck
The latest episode of the National Security Law Podcast
February 23, 2022, by Jen Patja Howell
Vladimir Putin has recognized two separatist regions in Ukraine, he has sent Russian troops as so-called peacekeepers to defend them, and all of this seems to be presaging a wider war in Ukraine. The United States and lots of other countries have announced sanctions, and it’s all heating up very fast.