Russian military action against Ukraine is an act of aggression and violates the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of 1994 signed by Ukraine, Russia, US, and the UK and later adopted by France and China. That agreement led to Ukraine’s relinquishing the world’s third-largest nuclear arsenal, which was stationed on its soil, joining the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear weapons state, and expecting that the promise of the five others to respect the integrity of its borders and sovereignty would be fulfilled. Russia has violated that legally formalized promise to the detriment of the security of the entire world. Undermining such trust amongst nations is immeasurably grave.
Russia has brazenly violated well-settled international law. The threat or use of force to resolve such disputes as are at issue in the Ukraine is prohibited under Article 2 of the UN Charter. Russia was not under any threat that offered no recourse other than force. In fact, President Putin, in ordering military attacks against Ukraine, has committed a Crime Against Peace in violation of the UN Charter by planning, preparing, initiating, and waging a war of aggression.
The scale of such violations in this instance is enormous, and its brazen nature flagrant. Any grievances and unresolved conflicts that Russia may have with Ukraine and the United States/NATO are insignificant compared to this misconduct. Moreover, many diplomatic mechanisms were and remain open to resolve them peacefully. These criminal acts exist regardless of similar misconduct by other nations, such as US conduct in Iraq or China in Tibet.
Russia’s acts of war will burden Ukraine with an enormous cost in human suffering, stimulate a massive crackdown on the civil liberties of Russians who respect international law and peace, risk expanding the conflict, and even place the entire world at grave risk of elevation to a nuclear exchange.
The chaos of war could put the 15 nuclear energy plants in Ukraine in danger. Neither Russia, the United States, France, the UK, nor NATO have promised to ensure that nuclear weapons not be introduced into the conflict nor that they will refrain from threatening or using such devices first. They should express such restraint clearly and fast.
Jonathan Granoff, President Global Security Institute
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