Finally, five months after the invasion of the Crimea, the European Union has adopted serious sanctions against Russia.
“Council Regulation (EU) No 833/2014 of 31 July 2014 concerning restrictive measures in view of Russia’s actions destabilising the situation in Ukraine,”
OJ L 229, 31.7.2014, p. 1–11 (BG, ES, CS, DA, DE, ET, EL, EN, FR, HR, IT, LV, LT, HU, MT, NL, PL, PT, RO, SK, SL, FI, SV), reproduced in EUR-Lex (text) and found here.
The sanctions currently allow existing contracts for military equipment and arms to be executed, including the delivery to Russia by France of two Mistral-class attack warships. One is to be named “The Sevastopol”. Both are initially planned to be based in the Far East, but could eventually be based in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula, which is Ukrainian territory now illegally occupied by Russian military forces.
This military occupation is the result of an invasion by Russian forces in violation of Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter, which prohibits “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state”.
Article 2 paragraph 4 is a norm of peremptory international law (jus cogens) from which no derogation, even by agreement, is permitted.
That means that if France were to finally see the light and cancel the contracts with the Russian Federation, a state which is currently invading another European country, any arbitration panel would be highly unlikely to uphold the penalty clauses in the contracts for the Mistral-class warships.
It strains credulity to think that any arbitral tribunal would ever uphold penalty clauses for failure to deliver warships to a country which had invaded, purported to annex, and currently occupied the territory of another state, and particularly when the warships could eventually be stationed in the conquered territory of the invaded state.
Delivering warships to Russia, under these circumstances, would be tantamount to aiding and abetting an aggressor state in its continuing illegal occupation of the conquered territory of the Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
The Trenchant Observer