Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and arms transfers in the framework of international law

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The international crisis and threat to world peace presented by the massive Russian invasion of Ukraine in early 2022 has thrown up difficult questions, not least of which is how the international community can assist the Ukrainian armed forces defend the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. In doing so, it is tempting to think of the situation only in military terms, leaving aside what is legally justified and morally right, yet that would be short sighted. 

Russia’s invasion is a massive escalation from its military intervention in south-east Ukraine which began in 2014 when it illegally annexed Crimea and seized control of areas around Donetsk and Luhansk using uniformed and irregular forces. Yet the undeniable fact is that Ukraine cannot be construed as a military threat to Russia.

In this Insight, IPIS details Russia’s responsibility in the war in Ukraine from a legal perspective. The report analyses Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justification for the invasion of Ukraine and traces Russian support for Ukrainian separatists. Following the international condemnation of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, IPIS examines the legality of arms transfers by NATO and EU countries to Ukraine, in the light of International Law and in particular of the UN Charter.

Photo: Street art collage “The Dove of Peace in the Sky of Ukraine” @industrie.tarte , “Les Marches de la Paix, Paris 

This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the Belgian Directorate-General for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD). The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of IPIS and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the Belgian Development Cooperation.