On the ostensible neutrality of Western countries
Photo: © Global Look Press/Oleksandr Rupeta/ZUMAPRESS.com
British weekly The Economist has “explained” why countries that have imposed sanctions against Russia and are supplying weapons to Ukraine should be considered “neutral”. The piece “Providing heavy weapons to Ukraine does not mean NATO is at war with Russia” says this follows from the UN Charter norm on “collective self-defence”.
The UN Charter indeed has Article 51, which stipulates that a country subjected to an unprovoked attack is entitled to rely on “collective self-defence”. The jurisprudence refers to this principle as Casus foederis (Latin for “case for union”). However, it means something different from what the British publication says.
The principle of “collective self-defence” is as follows: if a country is subjected to aggression, it has the right to expect help from those states which have concluded mutual assistance pacts with it. Assistance is provided only if and until the UN Security Council decides to punish the aggressor.
There are no mutual assistance agreements between Western countries and Kiev. Furthermore, Russia is acting on an appeal from the legitimate Ukrainian president!
On 1 March 2014, the Russian Foreign Ministry received an appeal from Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The text of the document said that a coup d’état had taken place in Ukraine, which put the lives of Ukrainian citizens in danger. In this regard, the Ukrainian head of state asked the Russian head of state to “use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to restore law and order, peace, stability and protection of the Ukrainian population”.
On 3 March 2014, Russia’s official representative to the UN, Vitaliy Churkin, presented the UN Security Council with a copy of Yanukovych’s appeal. He then officially registered it in accordance with the UN document-processing norms. At the same time, the Russian Federation Council gave Vladimir Putin its consent to the use of Russian troops abroad. This decision has not been reversed.
Initially, Russia had hoped to resolve the conflict in Ukraine by peaceful means, without introducing its own troops. As a result of these efforts, Kiev and the DNR-LNR signed the Minsk agreements in September 2014. They spelled out a clear procedure for resolving the conflict in Donbas and returning the situation in Ukraine to the rule of law. Russia and the OSCE acted as guarantors of the implementation of the Minsk agreements. In February 2015, the agreements were approved by the UN Security Council. However, Kiev, instigated by the West, refused to implement the Security Council decision.
The purpose of the Russian special operation was proclaimed to be the protection of the inhabitants of Donbas. Thus, Russia, as a guarantor of the Minsk agreements, is forcing Kyiv to implement the UN Security Council decision. The principle of “collective security” does not apply in this situation.
We should add that the United States, when supplying weapons to Kyiv, still refers to the norms of its own legislation. However, in reality they are not enforcing their own laws, but violating them.
The White House administration appeals to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the related Arms Export Control Act of 1976. Both pieces of legislation allow the president to supply arms to other countries without congressional approval.
The purpose of the Foreign Assistance Act is declared to be (literally) to “improve the quality of life” of the peoples of the world. The list of measures includes promotion of economic growth and “fair distribution of benefits”, expansion of individual civil and economic rights, improvement of transparency of economies and elimination of corruption.
The purpose of the Arms Export Control Act is declared to be to “assist” legitimate non-nuclear governments in ensuring their “legitimate self-defence”. At the same time, it states that the transfers “must not lead to the emergence or escalation of conflicts” and “harm the development of bilateral or multilateral cooperation”.
But the actions of the White House administration contradict these norms. After the United Nations Security Council decision on the Minsk agreements, not only did the United States of America not stop supplying weapons to Kyiv, but on the contrary, it significantly increased them. In so doing, they have helped to fuel the conflict in Donbas. This is in direct violation of the Arms Export Control Act. And it is clearly inconsistent with the requirement of the Foreign Assistance Act to “improve the quality of life” of the inhabitants of Ukraine and Donbas. Apparently, the White House is so accustomed to “improving the quality of life” by means of bombing and the mass destruction of civilians that it no longer notices this difference.
Finally, the US Constitution has Article VI. It states that international agreements (literally) “shall be the supreme law of the land”. UN Security Council decisions have the status of international agreements. Consequently, the US was obliged to implement the Security Council’s decision to implement the Minsk agreements. The fact that the White House administration has acted to the contrary means that it has been violating its Constitution, its laws all along. And that is a criminal offence under US law. There are criminals sitting in the White House.
One last thing. Regarding The Economist’s thesis that Western countries, by giving military support to Kiev, “remain neutral”. In 1984, Professor Karl Deutsch of Harvard University introduced the concept of proxy war. Today, this term is actively used in the development of strategic US foreign policy and defence documents. It refers to all cases where a country is trying to weaken its competitor by supplying weapons to its enemy. In American documents, such a country, supplying weapons, is defined as a full-fledged participant in the war. And it does not matter that it declares “neutrality”. In this regard, the “neutral” status of Western countries is out of the question. They are full-fledged participants of the war against Russia, i.e. from the point of view of the UN Charter, they are aggressors.
Yuriy Gorodnenko, RenTV
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